When my boys grew up and began to move away, it was an adjustment. On one hand, I didn’t have to cook every night if I didn’t want to tackle the kitchen. In fact, during our Empty Nesthood, my hubby and I have been known to polish off a humongous bowl of popcorn smothered with a vat of butter, on many occasions, as the answer to, “What’s for dinner tonight?”
Our refrigerator became less jam-packed with teenager-type foods. Our pantry began to evolve to less and less preservative-laden snacks, and more toward intriguing culinary delights. Daily cappuccinos replaced pots of coffee, and that’s not all! Sodas disappeared and sparkling waters appeared in their place. Laundry downgraded from an endless hideous chore to more of a mild nuisance. YAY! Plus, the smell of our boys’ room actually became bearable upon entry, (it took a case of Febreeze bombs to get there, but still…) and our house was clean…ALL THE TIME! I mean, anyone could drop by at any time of the day or night and I would not die of mortification about the state of my home. Yep, everything was together, neat and tidy…but I, however, was a wreck!
What can I say? I’m a major Mama Bear…not to be confused with a Hover Parent, but just someone who really likes her kids. I mean yes, I love them, that goes without saying. But I actually like my kids…most days. So that whole Empty Nest thing gutted me. I felt like I had been laid off from my most favorite job in the whole world! (And they didn’t even give me the decency of severance pay)!
With our oldest, Eric, already living in another state, two hours away, that ended up not being near as difficult as moving our baby boy, Ryan, to San Diego, a mere 12 hour drive, give or take an hour or so, depending on traffic. What was I going to do? While most thought I would throw a party to celebrate, I really bawled my eyes out the entire trip back home to Northern California, after we left him, instead. Thank gawd my husband had the fortitude to drive the entire trip. (Really, it wasn’t a choice…not if he wanted to live, because I cried so much I couldn’t see the road…which is actually a blessing for parts of I-5).
Life was really lonely back on the ranch. No messy house to clean, no favorite meals to make, no one to nag…WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO?
Then one day, about a month or so later, our oldest son, Eric, called to say he was quitting his job and moving home. HUH? WHAT? He hadn’t lived with us in over four years, and he had a great job. What WAS he thinking? Not going to lie, part of me was thrilled to have him move home!!! YAY! One of my baby birds would be back in the nest. Of course the responsible side of me was thinking, “What the hell do you think you are doing kid?” But then he dropped the BIG BOMB. It was only going to be for three weeks. Yep, he unloaded news like a sucker punch to the gut…he was taking a job on cruise ship and would be gone for 6 months. OH. MY. GAWD. This kid was out to get me, I swear he was trying to give me a heart attack…and he almost succeeded. Damn kid!
So I cherished every single moment I could with him, before he left…because I don’t know about you, but six months is a long time to be completely apart.
I took him to the airport the day he left. I remember hugging him good-bye and I couldn’t bring myself to let go. I was so excited for him, but devastated for me. And dammit, those dang tears started flooding back again, as he pried my arms off him, grabbed his bags and disappeared through the sliding doors of the airport terminal. I felt my heart break into a million pieces, just like it did a couple months earlier when Ryan moved to San Diego.
It was about a month later that our youngest son called us. It was 3 o’clock in the morning. Of course we were panicked to be getting a call from our child in the middle of the night…and for good reason. He was calling because he was worried, and pretty much scared out of his mind. The police were in his backyard with flashlights on a manhunt, NOT FOR HIM, and a helicopter circling over his neighborhood with a searchlight. We could hear some of the chaos through the phone. Now talk about feeling helpless. As we hung on the phone and tried to assure him the police would keep him safe, he told us he was moving home. He was done with the crime in his neighborhood and just wanted to come home after semester, where he could relax. Of course, my husband was not too thrilled about this, since he had just moved him down there 3 months prior…but who cares, cuz I was!!! (They had just had a home invasion a couple doors down a few weeks earlier with shot guns going off, so I think I was justified). I was more than happy for him to come home…so I could finally relax too!
After the holidays, Ryan returned. Yay! And it was better. He had matured, and was easier to get along with, and might I say, he was even more fun to be around!
Months went by in our not-so-empty nest. Seeing my youngest son so at ease on the ranch, bonding with his dad and enjoying life with his friends and his dog warmed my heart. There’s something about knowing your kids are safe that saves your sanity, right? But something was still missing…his brother.
After six long months, Eric got off his ship and flew home last night. If you don’t think I’m excited about this, you are crazy! (My sons have not lived under the same roof in about five years).
His brother and I picked him up at the airport, and while my boys attempt to think they are “too cool for school,” my youngest sprinted out of the door to see his brother, and all coolness bets were off. Two best friends, bonded through blood, back together again! Oh brothers!
I, of course ran to hug Eric, not wanting to let him go, and as he again, pried my arms off of him, he uttered his first words to me, just three little words, but I could tell from his eyes, he meant them, every single one of them. I’ll never forget him looking at me, very serious, very mature, and almost with desperation, saying, “In and Out?”
In and Out Burger restaurant??? WHAT??? No “Hi Mom, I love you, I’ve missed you so much. Just, “I want a Double-Double with Cheese Animal-style burger.”
Wow. Really. So much for a Home Coming. *deep cleansing breath here*
Good thing he has a Mama Bear like me though, who could understand his exhausting day of travelling to get home, his re-acclimatization to land life, and the fact that I crave those burgers too when I’ve been out of the country…because, lucky for him, I had stopped at that restaurant on the way to the airport, and he had a piping hot burger waiting for him to devour in the car.
You’re welcome Eric, and welcome home to both of my boys…because remember, “Home is where your mom is.” (My mom will vouch for me on this, I’m sure)! We are finally a Full House again, and I love it!!! (At least I do today…we’ll see how the rest of the week goes)!