October 21, 2010

I used everything you gave me

A few days before David and I got married, my mom was feeling nostalgic and sentimental about her youngest daughter leaving the nest. She sent out a letter to the family that said "dear Elizabeth will also leave us for the beginning of her new life with David. I want to weep. Sometimes I do . . . like right now as I write, but I also feel a great peace . . . this mother of eleven is losing all her chicks. It's a bit hard, but we knew by the timeline that this day was coming, so there! I have to face it."
1992 glam.
Just like my mom felt at the beginning of her child-rearing years, it's hard for me to imagine David and I being "empty-nesters". Thinking about it actually makes me a little sick to my stomach but I have to remember that there is good in every season of our lives. I really love this season and I hope that by the time I'm ready for the next one, I'll be able to greet it with a feeling that I savored every moment that I had with my babies.
My mom also included this column by Erma Bombeck which appeared in 1969, near the beginning of my mother's 42 years of child-rearing (1964 - 2006). You might cry. I did.

A young mother writes: "I know you've written before about the empty-nest syndrome -- that lonely period after the children are grown and gone. Right now, I'm up to my eyeballs in laundry and muddy boots. The baby is teething; the boys are fighting. My husband just called and said to eat without him, and I fell off my diet. Lay it on me again, will you?"


One of these days, you'll shout, "Why don't you kids grow up and act your age!" And they will.

Or, "You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do ... and don't slam the door!" And they won't.

You'll straighten up the boys' bedroom neat and tidy -- bumper stickers discarded, bedspread tucked and smooth, toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closet. Animals caged. And you'll say out loud, "Now I want it to stay this way." And it will.

You'll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn't been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing, and you'll say, "Now, there's a meal for company." And you'll eat it alone.

You'll say: "I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?" And you'll have it.

No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti. No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms. No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps. No more clothespins under the sofa. No more playpens to arrange a room around.

No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent. No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathrooms. No more iron-on patches, wet, knotted shoestrings, tight boots, or rubber bands for ponytails.

Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it. No baby sitter for New Year's Eve. Washing only once a week. Seeing a steak that isn't ground. Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.

No PTA meetings. No car pools. No blaring radios. No one washing her hair at 11 o'clock at night. Having your own roll of Scotch tape.

Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste. No more sloppy oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No giggles in the dark. No knees to heal, no responsibility.

Only a voice crying, "Why don't you grow up?" and the silence echoing, "I did."


  1. Now all you need to do is sing, "Puff, The Magic Dragon" and this will be complete.

  2. Diane, if you didn't cry then you have no heart. :) I think I must have inherited a bit of Mom's cheesiness.

    Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea . . .

  3. Oh, I cried first, then I laughed! This one gets me every time.

  4. It's nice to be reminded while you are in the moment - life is good!

  5. oh this made me cry. I love your blog so much, you always are so lovely in all you do! What a wonderful family you have, you mom is amazing. Thanks for sharing this!!

  6. Ok this so made me cry...my last chickadee left the nest 30 days ago..I miss the bedroom mess, the Whats for Dinner and the Mom.. I need my clothes washed in a hour. In my living room hang pictures of the kids and I dreamliy look and remember chubby lil hands, peanut butter smelling kisses and hours of playing on the floor..it does go too fast!

  7. Totally made me cry! I linked your post in my blog b/c it touched me so much. Thank you for sharing, Elizabeth!!

  8. Your posts are always inspiring, Liz. And this one was not different--appreciate what you have while you have it. It could/will be gone.

    I am in between these stages. I have one son in college (::sniff::) and one just starting high school. Laundry is down a bit, but I miss our older son. Thank heavens for cell phones! I hear from him very often. And I love that.

  9. Perfect! The empty nest doesn't come quite so late though. I was feeling a bit ridiculous about feeling lost this year as my youngest child started kindergarten. I started a blog dedicated to discovering what the junk I'm gonna do with myself now that there are no more babies at home and I'm the ripe, old age of 30.
    I love reading your blog. Thanks for the tears.

  10. *clutches heart*

    Good old Erma. I will try to remember!


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