Happy birthday to me.
Isn’t this great?
Why am I nesting?
I’m now forty-eight.
I collapse on the couch, laughing at my own in-my-head happy birthday song, arms loaded down with two baseball mitts, one baseball, two brand new laptop backpacks—because my son hasn’t decided which one he’s keeping—neon blue boardshorts, a package of pencils, and a solitary stinky sock.
Recently I’ve been spending vast amounts of time in this agitated, restless, punch-drunk mode, where I desperately want—no, “need”—everything to be in its place. While reading a friend’s post about the final frantic days of her daughter’s pregnancy, it finally hit me…I’m nesting. Not because I’ve been blessed with a late-in-life baby, but because my baby is going off to college. He’s moving away. Granted, only thirty minutes away, but still, my baby is moving out.
For almost twenty years I have been singing the same song that most parents sing when the first signs of fall penetrate the air…”It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” I relished dragging my boys to back-to-school sales, buying their new white fake Nikes and Ninja Turtle lunchboxes, and in later years blue and gray PE clothes and combination locks. I was the epitome of “embarrassing mom,” pushing my shopping cart up and down the school supply aisles, clicking my heels together, eagerly anticipating six hours of daily “me” time.
Until this year…
As I turn the page on the calendar, revealing not only my birthday, but the now-dreaded month of the September Equinox, I long for the delay of fall. Though it’s scorching outside, and the drop in temperature would be most welcome, I would gladly trade my comfort for more time with my baby.
I note the decreed dorm move-in date on the calendar—September 20. Yep, just as I suspected…when fall officially arrives, I will be an official empty-nester, by two days.
I know this is how it’s supposed to happen. I understand that sending my baby off to college means his dad and I have done our job in raising him right. And I am completely aware that, based on recent statistics and current economic conditions, there is a significant chance that he will be returning to live at home again…but in a totally different role.
With that realization, I send up a quickie prayer. Dear God, As much as I love my son and am having a hard time with him leaving, please help him be successful. Please let my empty nest stay empty.
For months I’ve been joking about me being the mama bird. Whenever friends asked me if I’m ready for this, I’d always reply, “Sure. I’m shoving him out of the nest. Fly, little birdie, fly.” And I really meant it. After all, I’d already done it once…and that one turned out okay.
But now that fall is coming, and that dreaded move-in date is almost here, and it’s my baby, I’m not so sure I want to be a mama bird anymore.
As I re-gather my armload of “stuff” to deposit in my son’s room, I let my mind wander to the next few months in front of me. Who’s going to be here to gripe about raking up leaves? Oh yeah, my husband will have that covered. And who’s going to watch college football with me? Oh right, my son wasn’t much interested in watching football anyway. But wait…who’s going to go to the World Series with me and wear our red t-shirts and shake our silly rally monkeys? Yeah, yeah, I know…he’s only thirty minutes away. But still…it’s not going to be the same.
Shuffling slowly toward the staircase, I’m met by my husband coming in the front door. “Happy birthday, sweetheart. How’s your day been?”
“Tweet, tweet,” I whisper, choking back tears.
I continue up the stairs and knock on my son’s bedroom door where I am greeted with a slightly snippy “What do you want?”
“I’m just bringing some of your stuff up,” I answer in my oh-so-sweet mama bird voice.
“Just drop it out there…I’ll get to it later.”
“Okey-dokey,” I mumble while unceremoniously letting everything fall to the floor.
“What’d you say?” my son yells through the still-closed door.
“I said, tweet, tweet,” I holler back as I flap my arms and flutter down the stairs.
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