Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Ah, Mom? Funny story….”

Husband No. 1 and I are now officially in “empty nest” status and considering changing our phone number so our children can’t call us anymore and disturb the peace and quiet that’s descended upon our house. I think of it as the Zen of Empty Nest.

The Christmas Eve telephone exchange with No. 1 son not long before he was to board a flight to spend less than 24 hours at home is a good example of how this state of calm can be disturbed. It seems his police academy had presented him with a list of items to purchase by 6:15 a.m. Friday – a difficult task when any store stocking them would be closed on Christmas Day and there were only a few hours of Christmas Eve remaining to snag them all. "Mom, I'll have to go to Wal-Mart when I get there,” he advised.

“But, honey, you don’t get in until 7 p.m. and we’re having dinner and then going to church. Besides, Wal-Mart probably closes early on Christmas Eve, like at 6.”

“Why? Don’t people have to still do their shopping?”

I bit my tongue and said, “You'll have to find a Wal-Mart there. Let us know what you can’t get and we’ll try to find it here.”

And that’s how we ended up frantically searching for a bathing suit with a mesh lining at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve in a geographic area with over two feet of snow on the ground.

It reminded me of the days of hyperventilating as we were still hunting down that special gift “from Santa” hours before the Big Guy was supposed to arrive. At least a bathing suit wouldn’t require the drama and trauma of the late-night Christmas Eve struggle of putting a toy together for Santa to leave under the tree.

It took a few telephone calls, but we eventually tracked down mesh-lined bathing suits at the local sporting goods store. Husband No. 1 volunteered to brave the frantic, last-minute shopping crowds, returning only slightly bruised and aggravated with bathing suits in two different sizes, just in case.

Imagine our surprise hours later when No. 1 son showed us the list. The bathing suit was required Monday, not the next day. “Ooops, sorry,” he said with his most angelic smile.

Fast forward to this week. Husband No. 1 drives No. 2 son to the airport an hour away and puts him on a flight to the Baltimore-Washington Airport so he can get back to school for “Welcome Week” activities before classes resume Monday.

As instructed, No. 2 son reports in when his plane arrives and then begins the public transportation marathon back to campus. He gets to his dorm at approximately 6 p.m. “It’s awfully quiet here,” he tells me, “and apparently the dining hall doesn’t reopen until Saturday.”

“You mean there are no activities and you could have stayed home longer?”

“I guess,” he says. “But don’t worry, I’ll find someone to hang out with.”

By 7:30 p.m., I’ve made three calls to advise him which important items he’s left behind, each revealed as I try to return his room to some sort of order. “Call me if there’s something else I’ll need to mail you tomorrow,” I say.

Then Husband No. 1 and I settle into our favorite chairs to enjoy the Zen of Empty Nest. I define this as the state of denial where if you don’t see your children, you don’t have to worry about what they might be up to at that moment. And there’s a sense of peace that comes from not having to argue with your child over whether he should drive the family car to a destination an hour away at 10 p.m. in an ice storm. Or if coming in at 3 a.m. might wake you just hours before you have to report to the job that helps finance his college experience.

At 9:45 p.m., the phone rings. No. 2 son’s name flashes on the Caller ID. Has he realized something else was left behind? Does he miss us already? Has he decided to come back home and transfer to the local university? Nope.

“Ah, Mom? Funny story….” he begins. My "Mom Intuition” kicks in. It tells me this story won't make me laugh.

“I’m on a train to Philadelphia,” he says. “I thought you might want to know.”

“Philadelphia? Dare I ask why?” Across the room, Husband No. 1’s eyes widen.

“I met up with Sarah and we’re going to visit our friend,” he tells me.

“So, just today, you’ve been in NH, Maryland, DC and now Pennsylvania?” I ask. Nice to be young, I think.

“Guess so. Whoops, gotta go. I’m losing service. I’ll call you Sunday.”

Not if I can get the phone number changed by then.


Glimmer said...

Husband No. 1 -- ha ha! He has been on borrowed marital time for quite a while. Bankrupt in fact. Guess Who in Arlington (CC)

Anonymous said...

Pat, I'm going to be laughing for the rest of the day! We were empty nesters for three days this week and, I'm not gonna lie, it was great! Robin

Pat Remick said...

Husband No. 1 -- It keeps him on his toes if he knows he can be replaced. Not that I'd want to after almost 30 years!