Both of my kids are home from their respective colleges for their winter break. I’m not sure why they bother to call it a winter break. It’s more like a sabbatical, or a leave of absence. It’s A MONTH LONG. When looking at the academic calendar I realized that they start school on September 4 and end on May 20th. In between there are about 5 weeks of holidays. No wonder the entire world has better test scores…funny what happens when you actually go to school.
This is the first holiday season my husband and I are empty nesters. This means that instead of unloading 12 boxes of decorations for 3 trees, 7 wreaths, two 25 foot garlands, 15 holiday pillows, Santa’s that sing, reindeer that dance, and one Christmas village complete with lights, roads, cars, trucks, trees, houses, churches, planes, snow, ladders and lights, we will have one beautifully decorated tree and holiday pillows. Will my kids be happy with this toned down look? Of course not, but that’s what being an empty nester means…you no longer care.
My job as resident nag/Queen of Worry is over. I am biting my tongue. I am shutting up. Clearly if they don’t want to eat breakfast, ( “Oreos are not breakfast.”) dress appropriately for winter (“you’re going out wearing that?”) or get 7 hours of sleep, (If they want to stay out till 2 in the morning I can hand out the aspirin when they wake up). It’s now their decision and they seem to have fared fine without my nagging.
When they go out for the evening I no longer have to ask if the parents are home, if there is the right amount of kids to legally ride in the car, if homework is finished, gas in the car. It’s like I had a clip board every time they left the house. I don’t remember my mother ever asking me so many questions. I was lucky if I got a, “what time will you be home for dinner” question. For 3 glorious months I haven’t had to care, worry, or comment. What I don’t know won’t kill me. I feel freed.
So yes… they’re BAAAaack and gone is the cash in my wallet and once again I’m up till all hours of the night as their friends come and go. I’m food shopping for the constant stream of high school friends who must not eat much in their own homes given how much they eat in my home.
And unbelievable as it sounds I’m doing the late night pick up again! My son is now 21 and his friends want to go into Morristown and try out the bar scene. But guess what? They need rides back and forth to Morristown. It’s like déjà vu. I get the late night call, stumble out of bed, get into a cold car, drive to Morristown and deliver the little darlings safely home. All the homes are dark because THEIR PARENTS ARE SLEEPING. It’s like all his friends have parents who don’t cook or drive.
But let me just say that even though I’m sleep deprived, cash poor and cooking for a crowd I am so happy they’re BAAAaack. And I’m happy their friends are back too and dropping in. They used to come with sleeping bags. Now they come with wine and cookies for me. They’ve grown up and have been raised well. I don’t need to be worried. Happy Holidays!