My Scrambled Nest

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

The young ‘uns headed back to school yesterday, and there’s one big problem: They’re not so young, anymore.

My son the chemistry whiz, now 21 and a college junior, has been on his own since his freshman year and has a part-time job “blowing stuff up” in the University of Utah chemistry lab to keep his fridge stocked with all of his addictions from Trader Joe’s. He’s taking a nuclear engineering class this year, which of course, terrifies moi. When I gave birth to my first child, it never occurred to me that he might one day become a rocket scientist. Yowza.

My 18-year-old daughter has decided to major in kinesiology (the study of movement), with the idea that she might (key word: MIGHT) want to become a physical or occupational therapist. Of course, I love that idea and have offered to be her guinea pig. I’ll subject myself to anything that keeps me moving and out of a dreaded nursing home.

My kiddo loved her first day of classes at the U (honors writing, fundamentals of biology and ancient myths and religion), and I love that she’s decided to hold off on getting an apartment until after the first of the year. One of the roughest days of my life was when my son’s room was emptied out two years ago. I still miss him terribly,  even though he always comes home to clean out the fridge every Sunday before dinner.

Because I know the day is approaching when I’ll likely only see my daughter on Sundays as well, I convinced my kids to go back-to-school shopping with me last week. I have not missed a school shopping excursion since my son picked out his first preschool clothes, backpack and shoes at age 2.

“News flash! I’m not a quitter,” I told him and his sister.

So 19 years after that first shopping trip, my son and daughter sighed and climbed wearily into my car on a Sunday afternoon, knowing that protesting was futile. At the shoe store, per family custom since kindergarten, they each selected two pairs (casual and dressy), then it was on to Old Navy for pants, shorts, shirts, skirts, socks and underwear. Once the trunk of my Beetle was loaded with bags, we continued another tradition: potstickers and ramen at a favorite noodle cafe.

I waited until their mouths were full before announcing my new edict: We would continue our yearly back-to-school shopping blitz until they were well into their 30s, even if we have to fuel the outing with a cocktail or two.

“Why wait?” quipped my son, and we all laughed so hard that our tea cups nearly slid off the table.

They might be grown, but I will continue to fulfill my duties as their mother. May the good times (in new shoes) roll on. ♥️

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