Thursday, February 7, 2008

Empty Nest Syndrome, Or Happy to Be Free and Single Again?

My son, David, graduates high school in June. In addition to marking this milestone, he turned 18 years old this past January, and declared rather profusely that he was "grown." I started to burst his bubble by telling him that being grown is not a matter of chronology but responsibility, and also hand him one-half of the monthly expenses to pay. But I decided there is time enough for that.

I recall quite vividly when I declared I was grown. I was much younger than 18, and my rebellious period started much sooner than my son's. Thus far, he has been on track, yet there are those subtle changes that make me grind my teeth at night, subtle changes that are inevitable and represent some of the pangs of maturing.

1. Having girlfriend problems (I thought he was smarter than this);
2. Becoming unfocused his last semester (I keep reminding him it sure would be nice not to have to write those tuition checks, that a scholarship will keep me from having to live with him when I am old and retired;
3. Leaving his shoes at the front door for me to trip over;
4. Scattering his belongings all over the house (I'm confined to my bedroom and kitchen);
5. Eating a sandwich and drinking a soda from 7/11 rather than consuming my gourmet French Chicken cooked in a Dutch Oven (a recipe I hand copied from Cooks Illustrated magazine while sitting in Barnes and Nobles); and
6. Having to tell him every night at 10:30 p.m. to come up stairs and get ready for bed (he awakens at 5:30 a.m., I still think that kids need 8 hours of sleep; well, at least I do, he needs to come upstairs so that he won't awaken me, I'm a light sleeper.

I know that I will miss him when he is away. But I am almost certain that I will not suffer from empty nest syndrome. In fact, when he told me that he will get on the metro and travel from Howard University's campus to northern Virginia where I live every weekend to eat and do his laundry, I threatened to apply for a Fulbright to a university in Africa.

Oh, after 18 years, how will it feel not having to worry quite as much, not having to prepare dinner every day, and not having my house filled with the remnants of school projects, worn out clothes, and love letters from his girlfriend? I don't know, but I am sure looking forward to being free and single again.


ssascms said...

Oh Michele! If she were alive, you know what "Mom" would say with that great big smile of hers displaying all the love of a mother - "Shelley, I'm so happy for you"!
And I'm sure she's uttering those very words as she looks down at you and her grandson!

M. L. Simms said...

Oh, dad, I'm sorry that mom missed this period in Malik's life. I am certain that she'd be so proud of him. He misses her greatly and often tells me how boring it is without grandma around.