Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mommy Home Alone

Certainly, over the last eighteen plus years, I’ve had time home alone.

The first time my one and only child left for longer than an overnight, he was only six and we sent him down to Oregon to visit friends. Six years old and flying off to Eugene all by himself. I think he was braver than I was, but he made it safe and sound and the minute I knew it, off I went to our cabin for two weeks mostly on my own.

Bliss! My husband came for the weekends, leaving me alone to fend for myself in the Alaska wilderness. I coped by hand-sewing blankets into window coverings, listening to books on tape and drinking wine with my friend Tina. I also had the furry child with me, so I wasn’t entirely alone. When our son climbed off the plane, he’d entranced a few women. The niece of a friend hung out with him in Seattle during his three hour layover and the lady who shared a row with him on the plane also colored and played cards with him. She sought us out at baggage claim and complimented us on our very polite and wonderful child. How can a mother not feel proud after a moment such as that?

The next time the child left, we were living in Colorado and sent him back to Alaska where he was passed from Grandparents to Uncles to Godparents. He had a great time. I indulged in more wine and romances. Or was I working full time? Either way, I survived, as I did when he and the boy scouts canoed down the Green River or trekked across sand dunes or went to summer camp.

This time, it’s a bit more serious. He’s off to college.

Usually in the summer, he worked or hung out at a summer program. This year he missed out because of some nasal surgery in early June. So I had him at home, for the first time since he was three, 24/7. For three months.

As the end of summer approached, and the date to leave for college raced toward us, we began to get antsy. I tried to get him to start packing sooner because I wanted to spread out the expense of new clothes and supplies, as well as make sure we knew what he had and what he needed. My passive-aggressive boy… sigh. Typically, the last few days were a rush to get it all together and I swore I’d be glad when he was settled in his room. My husband and I joked about backing up to the dorm and slamming on the brakes with enough force to send his luggage flying out the back then driving away.

Imagine my surprise when he stopped us in the middle of the hall on our way back to the elevator with the empties to take home and said, “Well, I guess I’ll be seeing you.”


Not the goodbye scene I’d imagined at all. It was only 10:30 in the morning and we didn’t have to be on the road until Noon. We still had an hour and a half!

But no, he was ready for US to leave. Under protest, we got our hugs and then were sent on our way.


It’s now been two and a half weeks, and I’ve talked to him only a couple times. One sort of longish phone call, maybe fifteen minutes, the others just quick messages. His father got the hour and a half call this weekend while I was at the writers retreat. At least I know he’s breathing and attending class. He even confessed to his father that he was doing homework before gaming. Good thing he figured that one out early.

But that leaves me with a quiet house and ALL the cleaning and laundry. Harrumph. Though there is one plus. When something gets cleaned, it stays that way a little longer. And it gets cleaned a little better. Laundry moves faster and things get hung up right out of the dryer. I’m hoping to see big savings on the electricity bill there, as under his watch, dress pants tended to go through the dewrinkle cycle 3-4 times before making it onto hangers.

We also have fewer dishes which make it into the kitchen sooner.

But I miss having him to talk to out of the blue. He and his friends provided me with much amusement. Heck, I even miss the all night Rock Band parties, even though not buying pizza, soda and chips for half a dozen young men means Hubby and I can actually go out to a nice restaurant a couple times a month. And still have change left over!

Ah well. It’s for the best. Life moves on and children grow into adults. People tell us we did a good job with him. Now it’s time to turn my attention to myself.

Suddenly writing seems like such a lonely profession. But I like lonely, right?? I’ll let you know at the end of the semester just how I feel about being an empty nester. In the mean time, I don’t have to hide my chocolate in new and creative places. DH never finds it but the kid sure could find every hiding spot! Leftovers also stand a chance of hanging around for a few meals or making into DH’s lunch. Or mine. And I get more exercise traveling up and down the steps when the doorbell rings or the laundry needs swapping. I might get in shape despite myself!

So here’s to empty nesters. May we learn to live with the quiet!


Becca Simone said...

Gosh that's got to be SUCH a strange feeling for you. But the fact that he didn't need a long good-bye and that he doesn't call much means you raised a confident, independent young man.

I still have about two years before my first will head off to college--although, in this economy, it might be a local community college for the first two years. As she likes to say, "You're probably stuck with me for at least another four years, Mom."

Happy to be stuck with her.


Morgan O'Reilly said...

Becca, it still hasn't completely sunk in. He will be home for a weekend in another couple weeks, so I'm still going with the summer camp thing :)

Ah, he's a young man now, and it was time. I'm glad he's so secure. He also a has a roommate he knew all through HS, so he's in his comfort zone, as much as he can be. However, I will be calling him this weekend. I need to hear his voice.

Thanks for popping in!

Juniper Bell said...

What a big change in your life! Someone once told me that parenting is a long process of letting go. It sounds like you're handling this "letting go" with a lot of grace and humor. At least you can take pride in raising such a wonderful young man. And after all, you haven't seen the last of him! I hope you enjoy every second of his upcoming visit.

DeNise said...

"I just nailed the door shut and broke their plates." She said, tongue in cheek, knowing the lie would be recognized. Congratulations on learning to work in the quiet. They never leave because they always live inside your heart.