Aug 02 2012

The Empty Nest Is Big Stuff!!!!!




Well…the move is underway.  The truck pulled up yesterday morning to pick up all of my daughters boxes. She’s still here but her “stuff” has left the building.


So now, I can’t breathe. I should say I can breathe but I feel like I can’t get enough breath in. My chest muscles have constricted and aren’t allowing me to take a good deep breath in.


I need a good yawn but it stops in the middle of it leaving me unsatisfied.


I’m in emergency mode. I picture her running from bears across the frozen tundra. I picture her bracing against the wind and sitting alone in her home on a cold frozen night.


I shake my head to change the picture.


My daughter walks into the room and says, what’s the matter? Is something on your mind? She senses my distress.


Oh no I say, everything is fine, I was just thinking how great you’re going to do. It’s going to be so exciting, what an adventure.


I picture the bears again.


She says, “I hope there aren’t any bears.”


I laugh and say, of course not.  “Even if there are, you’ll be safe. They’re not going to come into town. You’ll be with lots of people all of the time. Just don’t go out wandering into the woods.”


We laugh!


A flash of a picture pops into my head: I picture myself standing in front of my daughter, between her and the bear. The bear comes closer and I stand at the ready, raising the spear that is in my hand.


I don’t know where the spear came from. I am clearly not a hunter. My adrenalin is pumping.


I shake my head again to clear the screen in my mind.


I assume these flashes are part of my primordial instinct to protect my young even if it’s only in my head.


But I am a lover, not a fighter. I realize that I cannot go with her to stand as her guard.

So I do the next possible thing I can do. I excuse myself and head out to the corner store.

I buy lottery tickets and feverishly scratch them on the off-chance that I can win her a reprieve from having to move away. Yes this could work. My plan is to acquire some type of windfall, with enough funds to buy her a school of her own so that she and all of her friends can have healthy employment and stay close to home. That should solve everything.


I scratch with vigor. I am close to the big one. My chest muscles begin to relax as I take in my first big breath of the day. There is one last number to reveal.  This is it.


I win $10.  My shoulders drop.


I walk back into the store and buy a pack of cigarettes and smoke two on the way home.


My chest muscles are so tight that I squeak out a “nothing much” as my daughter asks, “so what’s your plan for the day”.


She does not know that I plan on writing another urgent message that I intend to place in my “God box”.


I did the same thing when my son left, only he was going to live in a big city. In my mind, I stood in front of cars that were veering out of control on the busy streets; I stood as a superhero in front of him to protect him from some midnight thugs lurking in dark alleys.


None of those things actually happened. Within a few weeks of his leaving, I was able to breathe again. His daily phone call and the cheeriness of his voice reassured me that this was a healthy move for him.


According to my calendar, I should be deep belly breathing again by the beginning of September. I will give myself a little longer to settle into this, maybe by September end or the beginning of October. She is moving out of province so that seems reasonable.


Every now and again, my daughter and I look at each other. In a moment of truth, I shout, “I don’t want you to go; I think I’m having a panic attack!!!”


My daughter shouts back, “I don’t want to go either and I think I’m having a panic attack!!!”


I yell, “This is crazy!!!!”


She yells, “I know, right!!!!!”


We are consumed by our exclamation points.


So we just hug.


Then we talk about all of the good things about it. Her growth, the experience, the adventure, the people she will meet, and the culture she will learn about. We talk about her Christmas homecoming. We talk about her brother coming home then too.  We talk about how much we will all have to talk about.


We talk about how she is living her dream and following her own passion. We talk about how strong she is and courageous and how proud I am of her.


 We talk about skyping and how the time will fly by. I remind her about having the freedom to leave her butter on the countertop and the freedom she will have to take a shower any time day or night without having to consider that she has to conserve the hot water for the other people in the house to take their showers. I remind her that in her own home, she won’t hear the nagging to put her shoes in the closet or to do her dishes right away. She will decide on the rules of her home. That puts a smile on her face.


We both yawn.


I consider that in the day’s right after she leaves, I probably shouldn’t post if I want to keep things upbeat around here. But then again, this is my release and I don’t want to end up breaking down at the grocery store in front of the cashier and bagger. Either way, it’s not going to be all that private.


The empty nest is big stuff. Big stuff my friend.  Especially when you not only love your kids but you really really like them.

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  1. Tim Stewart

    We wish Sam and Donny all the best. Our Justin has been living in TO for awhile now and it takes some getting used to for sure. That said it sure is nice to see them get their wings and take flight on their own. There is some satisfaction knowing that we did our best to prepare them for this chapter in their own book of life.

    1. Constance Stewart Meloche

      I can’t believe how fast the time went. It’ll be exciting to see where they go and what they do with their lives. Good job with Justin. He’s a good person!

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