For years I envisioned the prospect of empty nesting with popping corks and practically packing my girls bags for them. As it turned out, cutting the cords was slightly more difficult than planned. I find myself wanting to walk the neighbor’s Yorkie in the old baby buggy. Sometimes I will even turn on Barney just for old time’s sake or become a burgeoning storyteller for squirrels. I sway back and forth while surveying greeting cards in store aisles as if I’m holding a newborn, being mistaken for a person with quite the conspicuous need to pee. A lady approached me recently pointing out the restroom then shook her head wondering why I still stood there pendulating.
Unless I got their meanings wrong, songsters everywhere have revealed their feelings from their own parental points of view. The Fifth Dimension was fairly accurate. I now have one less phone call to answer, one less egg to fry, one less child to pick up after. But Bonnie Tyler said it more appropriately. It’s nothing but a heartache, hits you when it’s too late. I’d say Bonnie’s words relate better to both the empty nest, and bulging bladders.
I am free to be me and eat Bonbons for breakfast. And my chances of being stricken with germophobic illnesses have declined immensely, not to mention medical costs have dwindled. None of that matters though when you miss your offspring once they’re gone. Up until now, I had never heard blackbirds singing in the dead of night. I find myself crushing up bags of Corn Curls and spreading them into the couch cushions then eating the crumbs as a reminder of messes my kids made. And I don’t even like Corn Curls. I would give anything these days to have the unceasing whirlwind of activity, or a cold contracted by bacterial ridden tykes. At least we’d be in bed together snuggling in the luxurious folds of my new magnificent linens, fighting over the remote control. I remember when their rapping radios almost did me in. But I would love a chance to say put another dime in that jukebox baby. I was ready to kill anyone who gave my girls a Mr. Microphone, or any other insufferable deafening device for that matter. There was a passionate place inside of me that used to vocalize, “QUUIIIEEETTT!!!” At one point I recall thinking to myself, slow down, you move too fast. Got to make the mornings last. I wasn’t feelin’ too groovy then, and I’m not feelin’ all that groovy now. I would be glad all over having bedlam again, especially now that my hearing is going.
My first granddaughter just came for a visit and I hadn’t had that much excitement since the D’Arcy’s blew up the Bundy household with a rocket launcher on Married with Children. During my grandsweeties stay, I was generously awarded with another new grandbaby. Bound by her irresistibility, I feel very much the same way as the Kinks do when they sing, Girl I want to be with you, all of the time, all day, and all of the night. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I was telling each of my offspring ooh-oo child, things are gonna get easier. Now they should be singing that to me. I really wouldn’t want to parent again any more than I would want to wrestle a steer in a rodeo. But as the crooning Bryan Adams belts out, those were the best days of my life. Aside from the coupla stints as a lounge singer when I was soused on margaritas.
Quoting Reba McIntyre, you need three things in life. A wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone. Hopefully my daughters will have all three if I ever decide to take turns living with each of them. After all, grandmothers are a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit rockin and rollin from all the parenting and teaching. But I have garnered a veritable vault of maternal wisdom and my girls should know that we are people who watch the kids instead of watching the television. I do promise not to retain the unfailing eagerness to intercede, or hunt them down like a bloodhound when they aren’t home on time. It’s like I told each and every one of them throughout their residency at my maison…”We’ll be swell roommates as long as you don’t leave anything out of place and you let me sleep at night.” It’s good to have those binding covenants. They may still need to know how to cut a pineapple, or learn that the sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side. I doubt they paid that much attention to mathematics while watching The Wizard of Oz. Besides, it’ll be all shits and giggles until one of us actually giggles and shits.
After my first born, I remember needing my mother and called her frantically for Help. “Hi Mom. It’s Patty, your oldest daughter. I’m making Beef Stroganoff and Snickerdoodles for guests and haven’t the time to run to the store. Is there a substitution for molasses? She answered, “Tupelo, honey!” Then I asked if there was a substitution for beef. She said, “Yes. Eight vegetables.” Jesting most certainly inhabited the genes. But she reassured me many times, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” You’d think I had been reared by Viola Davis.
One element of torture is encapsulating this journey with not much say in matters of visitation. Hopefully my girls won’t live as far as Abu Dhabi, or bolt their doors when I show up. Which would literally put me somewhere between rocks and a hard place (grave). I’d hate to be standing in the shadows of love with dewy eyes. I realize their lives are busy. But I must have confidence that my girls will still need me and feed me when I’m eighty-four with something a bit more satisfying than pureed spinach.
It’s an echoing sentiment I know, but my aorta melts when I see my kids and grandkids. Mothers are programmed to maintain blood flow to their hearts by staying actively stimulated chasing children. So it feels like I have unfinished business to attend to. Yet I suppose a prime measure of maturity would be to suck up this empty nest affliction and salubriously move on.