I have been doing time as a quasi- stay- at -home parent for..let’s say…..22.5 years. I believe I have met the necessary requirements and demands that became the imprisoned criteria throughout those years in order to obtain freedom from: boring PTA meetings, exhaustible Fund Raisers, Mad Max Sports Chauffeur, 24 hour on call chef , Personal Shopper, Emotional Referee, and in-house psychiatrist…..All this parental jurisprudence under one leaky roof to allow freedom while enforcing order among family chaos….
I have enjoyed my time in this institution of parenting through each and every stage of child development. All the way from directing developing girls into their first wonder bra, to underdeveloped boys figuring out how to un-hook them.
It seems like only yesterday that my daughter was putting her toddler feet into my size 8 Charles Jourdan’s teetering and shuffling through the house while leaving a trail of scratch marks on the hardwoods. Now she is grown and shuffles her Knock-off collection between college and home via the trunk of a car, and still teeters and stumbles in her stiletto’s on the hardwoods.
And my son, soon to approach high school graduation and walk towards that collegiate path where he will pick up the fork in the road and use it as a reminder of all the lovely over cooked meals mom made for him. I think he will enjoy his “leaving the nest” gift I constructed out of the equipment and attire that lays suffocating inside his sports bag gasping for a breath of fresh Febreze huddled in the garage for months on end….…..oh it just brings tears to my eyes……..
Yes, time flies when you’re raising kids. Sometimes too fast and in certain predicaments, sometimes not fast enough. Looking back for example: Potty training. My children had stubborn bottoms. There was no way in Hell that they were going to plant their tuschies on a porcelain stool containing water with a hole in it and “let loose”. They might fall in and who knows where that would lead to.
I invested in a lot of time and energy and “potty” reading material in order to get my kids trained in toiletry. I researched all the child experts and read their advice on bathroom training and the commode controversy. All that information just filtered an assortment of crap that drained me and I was left pooped for the day. Who has that kind of time to sit and read lengthy descriptive potty books to toddlers in hopes to encourage a movement.
When my kids did finally concede to try the pot located in a chamber adjacent to their rooms, they found themselves actually liking it and would sit for what seemed like hours. Once my son hopped off the pot to go grab a toy and return to the bathroom theater to reenact the “mummy” with Elmo wrapped in Ultra Soft.
My daughter took a more regal approach and dragged her Crayola markers to the throne as she mastered an imitation of a Calder painting onto the toilet tank.
Yes, those were the days that I didn’t mind if the hours raced on ahead…
Lately,I find myself caught in a web that spins in only two directions as my parenting comes down a home stretch creating a possibility for early parole….if you’ll Pardon the expression. There is a minor offensive feeling of freedom when you are about to face an empty nest. It’s sort of an unleashed guilty pleasure of retreating back to what was once designated as ” Me Time”; yet, at the same time, harboring a push-me-pull-you defense against “letting Go”.
Just as I came to grips with the realization that my household was soon to be down to basically Charly-dog and me, and I started to feel the content and joy of releasing most of the everyday tedium involved with indwelling kids. Just as my heart started to jump for joy as I unfastened the shackles of daily duties revolving around kid schedules and looking forward to…oh….I dunno………. perennial Spa time?……..
I received a phone call.
My son’s school called to ask if we could be an “emergency host family for a foreign exchange student from Holland who needed a place until graduation in June”.
This all came about before the holidays. I could not lie and tell my sons school that there was “no room at the inn”, so I took the little Dutch boy in.
Apparently Amsterdam Boy and my son are two tulips in a vase. They became best friends at the beginning of the school year. When Holland boy’s window of opportunity landed from Netherland into our home, I swear I had met my sons Doppleganger. They are the same size and shape. They laugh alike, they walk alike, and times they even talk alike.……….in different languages.
They are both carved out of the same Dutch Elm. Both their bedrooms resemble an aftermath of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch war. The shrapnel of clothing splinter out from the opened dresser drawers and wounded trousers lay lifeless on the floor from their nights frivolity. I gather up dirty laundry from two countries now. I find myself lost in the glory of scooping up the minor coins that strategically drop from loosened pockets throughout the house. I’ll hang onto the Euro’s from Dutch boy until the exchange rate drops to our level, then give him a buy back option…
I will conclude that hosting a foreign exchange student has actually turned out to be a pleasure. There are no major complications and the language barrier is minimal. He respects my professionalism I’ve acquired in the experience of teen behavior: Eye Rolling is International.
Yes, confronting the empty nest syndrome has had some effect on me. It caused me to confront the hollow spaces left behind where dirty laundry and missing History assignments use to congregate. I always thought when this time came, I would succumb to the sadness of a half empty house and wallow and wine as I second guess my parenting skills. Skills that did not include instructions from the onset. Skills that you obtained through trial and error and all the Dr. Spock books in the world could not prepare you for. Skills that have been handed down from generations nursing verbal acuity with four simple words:
“Because I said so….”
Yes, the bars will be lifted soon and I will be set free to roam about the cabin without tripping over size 13 shoes left in the middle of the kitchen floor; accompanied now with size 12 Faux Wooden clog slippers. Something tells me my nest won’t be empty for long and my parental ship will not be sailing into the sunset where freedom rings and Chianti flows rampant, and responsibility can take a back seat. Something out there is still lurking around and sniffing about my feet to fill the void that is soon to come…..
Oh..yea… I forgot………Charly-dog.
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