My Scrambled Nest

An Almost-Empty Nest Journey of "Letting Go" With Laughter and Love, By Cathy Free

Once again, the house fell silent yesterday as my son returned to college life, my daughter started a new semester in high school and my husband returned to his office after a long winter break.

Since it was just me and the cat left to grimace at the morning’s headlines, I have to admit that I felt a little down…for about 15 seconds.

I’m starting to get this now. My son flies in and out of my life at will, landing for a home-cooked meal a few Sundays each month, plus holidays, stuffing dirty clothes into the washing machine like he’s on his last quarter at the Laundromat. He often comes though the door as my daughter dashes out, grabbing books and pencils and lip gloss to meet friends at the library or to bake brownies at her boyfriend’s house. (I know what you’re thinking, but this is actually true. In fact, I’m looking at a fresh brownie covered in bright mint-green frosting as I write this, wondering if baked goods with a radioactive glow contain more calories.)

The point is, my 19-year-old and 17-year-old are caught up in microcosms of their own, and finally, after years of trying to enter those realms, I’ve decided that it’s OK to be the outsider looking in, telling them to enjoy that movie or concert or new hamburger joint downtown, instead of hinting that I’d like to tag along, too. And in doing so, I’ve noticed a delightful side effect: they now seek me out for some fun once in a while, instead of trying to push me away.

Exhibit A: my son, a movie buff who can rattle off trivia about almost every director (“Peter Jackson wore the same T-shirt every day while filming ‘The Fellowship of the Ring'”), asked if I would watch the Golden Globes with him the other night. Even though he’d just gotten settled back into his dorm, he made a special trip home to watch the awards show with me, and twisted my arm into making chicken tikka masala. Incredibly, for the first time ever, he didn’t cringe when I reminded him of his reaction when he stepped inside a theater at age 2 1/2 to watch his first big-screen movie, “Monsters, Inc.” (“It’s too big in here, Mama,” he’d said, “and where’s the couch?”)

My daughter, who prefers live theater to film, graced us with her presence in front of the television for about 10 minutes, then announced that she was bored with it all and that the cat could take back her favorite spot on the sofa. “How can you stand it?” she asked us. “I’m going to go finish my chemistry homework.”

My son the chemistry major laughed and flashed her an incredulous look. “Seriously? You’ve had two weeks and you waited until now to finish it? Sad!” he proclaimed.

“What’s it to you, Donald Trump?” retorted my daughter.

Can you just feel the love? It truly is an honor to be their mother. ☺️💕💕💕

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