Stop me if you’ve heard this before. We are now proud to announce that we are officially empty-nesters. Yes, we’ve completed this job of parenting, the kids are sprung, and we are left behind, the two of us, well the four of us, if you include the dog and cat, to live life as we wish in this big old house. There are days upon days when my husband, John, and I don’t even enter some of the rooms of this house. I speak of course of the museum-quality preservation of our children’s bedrooms. David’s room with pictures on the wall of celebrities, including Barack Obama, congratulating him on his Eagle Scout award, Christine’s shelves filled with her collection of elephant figures, her books lined up just so.
No more banging around at ungodly hours. No more cupboards filled with junk food. No more cleaning of the kids’ bathroom. The silence can be a little disconcerting, but, don’t get me wrong, it is so welcome.
But, wait, haven’t we been through this before? The whole “The kids are gone, we’re finally on our own!” phenomenon? Indeed. But like so many Baby Boomers with kids, the tape just keeps looping back: they’re gone! They’re back. They’re gone! They’re back. They have been called “Boomerang Kids” for a reason. And because they have been given a label, we can know we are not alone in this.
Since graduation, our beloved son, David, has come and gone a few times. He was between jobs. He was moving to California. He was back from California. Which is all fine, but for the boomerang effect it seems to have on me and my emotions. I mean, when he returns home, I am overcome with joy. The prodigal son has returned! Then reality, including cracker crumbs on the couch, and very loud alarms at an ungodly hour of the morning (his new job starts at 6:00 AM) sets in. I mean, I like the kid – a lot. But it is unsettling and annoying. Unsettling and annoying enough for me to do a Craigslist search for a new apartment – for him, not me.
So, the euphoria of having him home, which has descended to frustration and a feeling that really now it is time to get him out, ascends back to the euphoria of having found him a place to live. Moving day joy then devolves into I-can’t-believe-how-much-I-miss-him grief. It does take a toll on one’s emotions.
Now my days, and especially my nights, are filled with, “Thank God we got this kid out of here” to “Oh man, I sure miss that boy”, to which John nods vigorously.
Yes, we’re happy to have him out. But the house is too quiet. And we do miss him; we miss his sister too. But if past experience is any indication, I won’t have to grieve forever. These kids do tend to find a way back home.
And the tape can loop right back.