What NOT to say to a soon-to-be empty-nester
In 2016, it wasn’t as prevalent in my life. It only occurred quarterly, I’d say.
Last year, it was becoming more regular — monthly, at the very least.
By January 2018 it was definitely weekly.
And now? Multiple times a day. Every single day. Without fail.
No, I’m not talking about the frequency of my restroom breaks, misplaced cell phone searches or antacid intake — although I very well could be. #Fifty
I speak, of course, about the dreaded “empty-nester” reference from family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and, um, some random dude who read my kid’s graduation announcement in the paper, I think?
Not a day goes by without someone uttering to me and / or my husband, “So, now when is the first day of college?”
Hard, hard gulp.
Heck, folks might as well be asking me, “So, what date is that again? You know, the one when you are scheduled to have all your entrails removed?”
“Oh, I’m not sure. It’s not like I haven’t been counting down on a mental calendar the size of Jupiter for a decade. Yeah, I forget the date. I mean, shoot, it isn’t like it’s the first thought in my head every morning or the last conscious notion rattling around in my brain until I drift off to sleep when, since you asked, I dream of nothing but that very date. So, um, I’m not sure, exactly. How do you like that?”
Yeah, that’s what I want to say, but instead I just well up full of tears and spit the date out like it’s the one following the dash on my headstone epitaph. Sigh.
Somehow, Kerry — and, generally speaking, dads — tend to show little outward emotion about having their youngest or only child move away from home. I don’t think they’re any less shell-shocked than we moms, they’re just much more British about openly expressing it, you dig? Lucky buggers.
All I’m saying is, there’s a whole list of phrases that it might be wise to avoid uttering to an about-to-lose-her-kid-to-college mother, OK? Some are:
• “Enjoy this time while you can.” Variations on this theme include: “Don’t blink,” “Live in the moment” and “Hold on tight.” Wow, why didn’t I think of that? My plan was just ignore the kid to see how that strategy works.
• “It’s the natural order of things.” Again, thank for that spot-on insight. Here I was thinking I should just go re-register him for pre-school. Good on ya!
• “Aren’t you happy for him / her?” No, no I’m truly not. I clearly want my child to be miserable. I mean, all that working my fingers to the bone and praying and worrying myself sleepless about tests and grades and the endless hours I spent volunteering with schools and boosters and at swim meets… Yeah, yeah — I do want him sad, for sure.
• “You need to let go.” What I need to let go of is the desire to throat punch you in this very moment. So I guess we actually agree on this one. Grrrr.
I get it. It’s college, not the front lines at Normandy, not a shuttle to the moon. He’s embarking on the greatest adventure in life to date and BTW, I am THRILLED beyond measure for him. #BlessedAndGrateful
But ask me about that date one more time and you may be extracting my wall calendar from your carotid, capsice?
Kimerer is Tribune Chronicle columnist who thinks ostriches are the smartest animals on the planet right about now. Although you can’t currently see her head, you can check out her blog www.patriciakimerer.com