William arrived home at 6:30 pm Friday night, which was his first visit after moving to NAU in Flagstaff, AZ a month ago. He sat at our kitchen table with his siblings and their significant others while we celebrated his 19th birthday with steak, mashed potatoes, and a chocolate birthday cake with colorful striped candles on the top. It was as if he had never left. He is comfortable at college and very interested in his Chemistry classes. That is all a mom can ask for, right? But having him home for less than 48 hours (and having to share him with his sweet girlfriend) has left me feeling more sad than happy.
It’s been an interesting month getting used to being “Empty Nesters.” I hate that term, but after googling alternatives and seeing “Better in Our Fifties” and “Wise Owls” . . . and worse yet, “Emerging Eagles,” it’s clear I need to invent a new moniker for those of us who have successfully raised our children to adulthood. Whatever it’s called, we don’t like it. I have friends who couldn’t wait for their kids to leave and told their kids home would now be known as “Naked House,” and funny as it may sound, they were serious! Kudos to them for not feeling wistful, and for creating a whimsical (yet truthful) moment to communicate to their two college-aged children they were expected to live near campus.
So many of my friends are experiencing this huge change in their lives: Our children are at college and from now on, will only be home for school holidays. We’ve been busier than ever hosting friends and family for impromptu cocktails and potluck dinner and afterwards, Shanghai Rummy at our kitchen table. (Thank you, Universe, for sending me friends who are such good cooks, interesting conversationalists, and who are beating me heartily at cards.) After work each day, I have either a coffee date or a happy hour. My life is full.
I should be happy, but I miss cooking and caring for my children. I know this will pass. Wish me luck with cooking for two instead of four. I hate throwing away food, but as a person who lives for trying out new recipes, it’s been a challenge. Today I sadly threw away a tupperware full of the Southwestern Potatoes from the New York Times recipes I made for our family dinner last Sunday.
I have never been good at transitions. What’s getting me through the most difficult transition of my life is time with friends, cuddling with pets, listening to new music (Bastille, Banks, and Bon Iver), reading historical novel (A Taste of Scarlet and Miniver and The Vanishing Velasquez), and tv shows like New Girl, A Chef’s Life, and Penny Dreadful. For me, it’s been difficult accepting the “new normal,” but I hope to eventually bring my mind around to the “naked house concept” where we are happy to be here just Hubby and me . . . or at least find happiness knowing we have raised our children so well that they are succeeding on their new independent paths, and that we can now move on and focus on our own futures. Tonight as I cleaned the kitchen of weekend messes, I left by the sink one small striped birthday candle. I need this candle to remind me of the gift of William’s visit home this weekend.