My daughter just finished her first year of college. It felt like my Freshman year of being an empty nester. In some ways I can't believe it's already been 9 months. In equal measure I feel like I. Can't. Believe. We. Made. It.!! Even amid the nearly daily phone calls that ranged every degree of human emotion, my life lacked the structure of being a Mom and skidded to the other end of the spectrum.
The slide into Slothness was a slow one. The first few days she was gone the house felt cavernous. And weird. Not good. I had to learn how to eat dinner for one. I found myself buying frozen meals. I mean, the size was right and the names... Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, Amy's Practically Perfect in Every Way food, made it seem like a good idea. They looked delicious on the package (when was the last time I'd had anything Alfredo). Sanity quickly poked her head in and suggested it was time to get it together and stop eating frozen, shit food. Still, many nights were popcorn or a grilled cheese sandwich, but at least I had to get a pan out and "cook." My eating habits perked up when I realized I could drive through Panera or run through Chipolte for dinner as much as I wanted. It felt a little naughty to eat out so often, but it picked up my spirit to be so fancy-free.
I noticed early on that I could leave dishes in the sink for nearly a week, never make my bed, and leave the house with the bathroom or my bedroom looking like a bomb went off. At first is was concerning. As it would be for any Type A person. Had I let myself go? Was this the beginning of a menopausal slide?
[Side bar: this menopause deal is a roller coaster. I basically try and pretend it's not happening. My Sister would say, "I think we're getting Peri-menopausal." I would looked shocked and say, "I don't know about you. But I'm not doing THAT." I find if you ride it lightly, you don't get stuck in it.]
Truth be told, gradually, it felt freeing. It took one less stress off and again, felt a bit naughty. You know the feeling you're getting away with something and it gives you a little smirk on your face? That kind of naughty.
My daughter would come home after just the right amount of alone time and I would pick her up from the train on Friday and have dinner together while watching our favorite DVR-ed shows before her boyfriend got off work. After that she was pretty busy for the rest of the weekend. It worked out fine because then I could see my boyfriend out of town and Daughter could take care of the dog.
Both my daughter and I have been brave about her becoming a grown-up. New activities we're on the table and I think we both handled them with respect, understanding and a sense of humor. We've become the closest we've ever been and it's true... being with your grown-up children IS the pleasure you've read or heard about.
And so as life does when things seem to to be bumping along fine, change is in motion. Daughter is moving home to stay and attend a different school in the Fall and together we'll be moving to a new house next week. We like where we've been for the past 5 years but the landlord wants his house back. So with mixed to sad feelings, we've been working on packing. The sun came out when Daughter said recently, "It's going to be fresh start for us both." How can you not smile and feel better at the thought of that?
Daughter has become quite organized and neat this year away from home. And well, you know now how I've been. I wonder how she'll like living with a Sloth.