Okay, so, like…, I am very serious here, really now, I mean business when I say that being a full-time mom for twenty-four years does nothing to prepare you for the moment of truth: that moment when the little chickens fly the coop: the dawning realization of holy ^%$# now what?
You ‘get it’ in bits and pieces over the years with those ‘simulated’ experiences like little Johnny’s first sleepover at a friend’s house, or the first time little Suzy goes to real camp…and then, needless to mention, that dreaded university residence year when your child moves out to pursue an education or career.
And I can admit that practicing for an empty nest is something we typically treat like a trip to the gynecologist: you only do it when you absolutely have to. But let me tell you, if you’re anything like me, practice could be key to your survival.
So this is me, on a practice run.
Testing, testing, one two three. Two cows went out to pasture and two little chickens fled the farm.
Thirty minutes after my youngest two children left on their school’s international band trip, I realized I had no one to pack a lunch for, and no breakfast dishes to wash. Two hours later I had bleached their bathrooms and washed their shower curtains and bedding. I’ve done Facebook. I’ve done email. I’ve filed all the tax forms and endorsed the latest cheques to pay the most recent bills. I don’t need groceries. I don’t need banks. No one has a dentist appointment. The dog refuses to walk in the rain. And the husband has a full day of consults booked with a wait-list of eight months.
So what the actual heck?
Really now! Have some kids, they say. It’ll be fun, they say!
Here’s where it gets tough.
The jokes fly: get a manicure, get a pedicure, crack open a bottle of wine, binge watch Netflix and crack open another bottle of wine.
I won’t even mention all those years when I dreamed of having a hot meal, or a hot bath, or a trip to the mall just for fun (or to buy something for myself, gasp, is that even possible?) and not in one of those frenzied, I’ve-only-got-thirty-seven-minutes-before-someone-needs-to-be-picked-up-from-soccer-and-someone-else-has-swimming, hunts for new winter boots or those extra-special, mid-thigh, band-less, tag-free, boxer shorts that come in some cranky size halfway between tween and teen.
But I don’t want a hot meal, or a hot bath, or a quiet stroll through a peaceful shopping mall listening to elevator Zen music and watching the Geriatric Stride Team doing their indoor laps…
I want to pack lunches and do dishes and run back-and-forth from errand-to-errand making life better for everyone else and fulfilling my own while I’m at it. I want to fold four loads of laundry and figure out where someone left page two of their essay and deliver it before third period English. I want to hear the sound of their chatter and complaints and laughter and their myriad of questions and…
I guess I need more practice.
This mother hen isn’t quite ready to let the baby chicks fly.