I want my house back!

It’s me again. The teary-eyed, emotional mom who had sent off her youngest to college and wrote about being an empty-nester here.

A strange thing happened as I adjusted to this state. To provide some context, I have never been someone who had enjoyed or even had a chance to experience solitude. Having been born into a big family (four sisters), and lived with grandparents, aunts, cousins through adulthood, the first time I was truly alone was when I was pregnant with my daughter within 2 years of my marriage. I had quit my job, moved to Indiana and generally did nothing but be pregnant while Raj went happily off to work every day. Did not know a soul in the new town. Did not have much mobility as Raj took our only car, the old Ford LTD to work, which I couldn’t have driven anyway. It was a bench-seated monstrosity that my 5-foot tall pregnant self found best suited for sleeping in the back. 

Of course that didn’t last long. My daughter came along, and so did my son after 21 months. And then it was a race. Race to feed them, bring down the fever, get them to sleep, to school, piano and violin lessons, baseball and tennis, get myself to work when I stepped back into workforce as programmer and then software Project Manager,…and then college!

When my son, my baby, went to college, I felt justifiably empty, and lost. This time in sunny Florida. Not unlike a mom feels the first time she steps out without a diaper bag.  Doesn’t quite know what to do with her hands.

So I did what I always do when I don’t know what to do. I made a list. I didn’t quite write the next great American novel, but I accomplished several things on my list. Made new friends, started (and stopped) music lessons, exercised fairly regularly, got very involved in the local Tamil community and did a few skits, started volunteering, traveled with Raj, cooked—a lot and, yes, missed my kids.

In addition, Raj traveled a lot these past two years and I was alone a few nights every week. Initially I freaked out—solitude has always scared me, but slowly it grew on me. I went back to my two loves: reading and music. I cooked only if I wanted to. Lunching with my girl friends, exercising regularly, watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey without any child rolling his/her eyes—this became the new norm.

Moreover, my relationship with my children took on a different dimension. For one, my daughter regularly called for advice! I thought that would never happen considering this was the child who, if she had to make a choice between a blue and a red dress, would ask me which one I liked, and then pick the opposite. (This plan went haywire when I caught on to her little scheme, and would say the opposite of what I liked so she would pick what I liked, then she caught on to what I was doing…you get the point. It all got very confusing as we stood in the stores trying to figure out what we should say…no wonder she decided to study psychology!) And then, she called to get recipes! She who was as lost in the kitchen as I am on any parking lot. And actually ended up making some of them!

 I started to have very mature conversations with my son, who works for the diversity office in his college, and pounces if he detects even a whiff of stereotyping in his desi-parents.

Overall, I was starting to enjoy this empty nest thing.

So when my son moved back home this summer (he’s only a sophomore in college), and Raj quit his job with the local company and joined a UK-based company (there goes the daily commute—thank you, Russell!), my feelings were not quite, how to put it, ecstatic! All of a sudden, my house is not my haven.

My son is parked on the family room couch when he is awake, watching reruns of The Office, Community and The Mindy Project for hours on end. Raj is in the den or in the lanai working—to be fair, he doesn’t make many demands of me, and has been tolerating my jokes about having to make breakfast, lunch and dinner, and supplying endless cups of coffee and tea. Meanwhile, my inner diva screams —I want my house back, bitches!

The real point of this story is not to complain about the milling crowd at home (although it would appear so), but to shine a light on the foreseeable future for all those moms who are getting ready to send their children off to college and dreading the empty nest phase. Stay with it, moms. This is your time. Of course you are going to miss them like crazy. Let yourself grieve for the lost sweetness of children under your roof.  Not for long though—for you need to get out those dancing shoes, or the books, or those craft ideas, or polish your resume for your second act! For it truly is your show this time!

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On birds flying the coop

Today, as they say, is the first day of the rest of my life as an empty nester.  Just dropped off my daughter at the airport for her flight back to college in Michigan.  My son, the younger one, left home last week to college as a freshman at the University of Florida.

And my husband and I are left with an empty nest.  The emptiness is overwhelming – I see signs of my little birds all over the house.  A pitcher of mango juice my son made and finished only half.  A half-empty (or is it half-full?) bottle of lemonade my daughter left in the refrigerator.  Their clothes.

I want them to know we love them  more than anything in this world.  Hopefully, we have given them strong roots, and powerful wings to fly where life takes them – preferably not too far from us.  They’re both wonderful, kind, funny and intelligent and my wish and prayer is for them to live up to their potential.

I’ll admit it – I’m on the verge of a meltdown, and fighting it.  I know this is normal, and a natural progression of life.  I tell myself how much worse it would be if they didn’t go to college and stayed home.

So I am making myself a list of things I have always wanted to do to help ease into my new life as an emptynester.

I went to the YMCA and got information on some classes.  It’s about time I learned to swim.

Maybe kickboxing? Always wondered about Pilates.  Have tried Zumba – with my two left feet, should be quite entertaining.

Sign up for a French language course at the University of North Florida – have always wanted to learn French.  Will come in handy when we go to Paris.

Start my bookclub in September, even if it has only 2 members since we only recently moved to Florida, and am still to make a lot of connections.

Start watching the TV series ‘Lost’ which I have in my netflix queue.  With 120 episodes it should keep me busy, right?

Work on my family cookbook.

Paint.

Make a new blog documenting the construction of our house with pictures.

And be available to my little birds when they need me.

Fly safe, little birds.  But know that your nest is always here, warm and safe anytime you need to rest your wings.