“When mothers talk about the depression of the empty nest, they’re not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They’re upset because they’ve gone from supervisor of a child’s life to a spectator. It’s like being the vice president of the United States.” – Erma Bombeck
My wife and I were part-time empty nesters for four years, and have been full-time empty nesters for the last two. The dynamics of going from a family of four to just two people is a very interesting transition. It took me a little while to get used to it, but I have figured it out and have adjusted very nicely thank-you. That is why it is such a shock to my system when EVERYONE comes home.
This weekend was one of those occasions, children, in-laws, dogs, shoes, coats, and extra cars all converged on top of me and my wife, bless her heart, was in heaven. It is funny how a house that seems so massive for just two people can shrink so quickly. The adjustments that need to be made to accommodate more than two people can be subtle but dramatic. We are a family of big personalities and sometimes those personalities step on the toes of other personalities, namely mine, but I try not to complain because I know how much it means to my wife to have a house full of holiday chaos.
“Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay.” – H.H. the Dalai Lama XIV
The first and seemingly most important accommodation we have to make is food. We apparently no longer have the right kind of grub or amount. I do most of the grocery shopping now and pretty much buy the same staples each week. My wife and I will typically eat out two or three times a week when neither of us feel like cooking. We also eat a lot of salads and I make crock pot meals, stews, soups that we can eat and freeze for later. Our kids have developed their own eating routines and idiosyncrasies, one doesn’t eat this kind of meat, or drink that kind of milk. We didn’t have the right kind of chips, bread, coffee, or gluten-free this or that. Rather than allowing me to say “Get over it” or “Tough cookies” I did what? That’s right I went to store, with a list in hand and bought stuff that if they don’t eat or take home with them I will throw away in a week. I just can’t eat crackers that taste like cardboard, I don’t care how much pimento cheese you put on top of it.
I went to the store on Friday back on Saturday and I will need to go again today. What I spent on groceries Friday would have lasted the two of us the entire week but when I checked the pantry this morning we were wiped out. At this point I can only assume that the groceries walked out of the house, were eaten by the dogs, or were absorbed into the atmosphere.
I don’t need to go to the Mall, or to my mother-in-laws house to experience Holiday chaos. I can live it in the comfort of my own surroundings and honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.” – Dave Barry