Posts Tagged ‘empty nest’


100 Things I Plan to Do Now That I Don’t Share My Home with Teens or Kids…

on her feet

Warning: You may want to get 2 beverages first.

The reality is that I started doing a lot of the following a long time ago. But perhaps the contemplative point is that we parents often don’t have time to realize just how much we change our previous lives when little ones enter our lives. Why don’t we have time? Just read below and you’ll probably figure it out. Here’s what I either am doing now that the kids are all out living their own lives or plan to do in the next few years:

  1. Use up all the hot water for my shower.
  2. Take fewer cold showers, thanks to # 1.
  3. Quit doing a 1 am check of the living room for bodies playing Xbox Live after bedtime. And people wonder why I’m an insomniac.
  4. Stop turning off all the lights in their end of the house.
  5. Pet the dog.
  6. Sip coffee on my back porch and do more of # 5.
  7. Have a 2nd cup of coffee on the back porch.
  8. Actually water my plants.
  9. Put photos in a photo album and actually use the hope chest for hope.
  10. Talk to my husband about something other than what part of the house now needs to be repaired and which kid needs some “active parenting,” thanks to their latest “issues”.
  11. Remind myself why I married the hubby…besides the fact that he makes a pretty good dad.
  12. Spend all day in the Container store.
  13. Actually go in an IKEA store. Hey, I live in a small town.
  14. Go to Toys R Us and play with the toys instead of telling someone not to play with the toys.
  15. While at Toys R Us, laugh wickedly at the moms telling their kids not to play with the toys.
  16. Quit saving Limited, Too and Delia’s coupons.
  17. Shop in stores filled with expensive, breakable items.
  18. Actually venture into the china department at Macy’s.
  19. Sit in a fast food restaurant, away from the Playland.
  20. Go to matinees of non-animated movies on a weekday.
  21. Make an exception to # 20 for movies with “minions” in them.
  22. Have leisurely meals out with friends without worrying about having to pick up a kid from an extracurricular activity or put one to bed.
  23. Quit instinctively putting my arm across the passenger seat when having to stop quickly in the car.
  24. Put things in the back seat without worrying about which car seat it’s closest to.
  25. Buy a sports car again (Yes, once upon a time MaryAnn owned something other than a mini-van and an SUV. Hard to believe, hunh?)…after the college moving years.
  26. Have a Bachelor/Bachelorette watch party with my BFFs. Don’t hate.
  27. Travel half as much as my hubby…buy a bigger suitcase.
  28. Haunt Sam Moon to buy the bigger suitcase…on a weekday.
  29. Stop closing down all the stores that stay “open late” during Christmas season because the hubby can only watch the kids for 1 long Saturday each December.
  30. Stop listening for the “silence.” Revel in it, instead.
  31. Stop lecturing and replace that with pointed, “open-ended” questions.
  32. Read a book all in one sitting, like Hop on Pop.
  33. Put treats in children’s hands instead of smacking them for reaching for the cookie jar right before dinner.
  34. Yank out those infernal safety plugs in my outlets.
  35. Take the safety latches off the cabinets with dangerous substances in them, like chocolate.
  36. Organize the Tupperware cabinet and pots and pans cabinet and marvel at how it stays that way for a whole day.
  37. Read the owner’s manual for my new cell phone.
  38. Beam that my car interior no longer contains science experiments gone awry in the back seat, random cheerios, and the missing puzzle pieces.
  39. Take the parental controls off the TV and home computer (They turned out to be a complete waste of time anyway with kids who were weaned on computers, etc.) Heck, throw the home computer out, since we all have smart phones, iPads, iPods, Xboxes, and laptops.
  40. Use the wedding china and wash it by hand.
  41. Buy necklaces that actually could be destroyed by chubby hands yanking a little too hard.
  42. Wear dangly and hoop earrings again.
  43. Leave the door open without expecting company in the bathroom at the most inappropriate times imaginable, like when I’m reading Hop on Pop.
  44. Take showers without toddlers to save time on Sunday mornings.
  45. Stop cutting up everyone else’s food while mine gets cold.
  46. Stop evaluating furniture based on child-friendly features such as being indestructible during a nuclear bomb attack.
  47. Use cloth diapers for dust rags instead of burping cloths.
  48. Save money for retirement.
  49. Pay off the mortgage.
  50. Buy a dress when it’s at full retail price…in white.
  51. Quit buying spray ‘n wash, bleach, sunscreen, aloe vera gel, Benadryl cream and bug repellant in 5 gallon drums.
  52. Quit buying the 21 pack of lunch box sized chips.
  53. Snuggle with my hubby on the couch in the living room and watch the Cosby show without having to move game controllers first.
  54. Still laugh at # 53.
  55. Make a real pizza.
  56. Stop closing drawers…everywhere.
  57. Marvel at the balance in the checkbook.
  58. Marvel that the checkbook is actually balanced.
  59. Marvel that you can now balance the checkbook online. This happened while I wasn’t sleeping at night, right?
  60. Talk to my girlfriends on the phone without having to say, “Just a minute…” and then putting my hand over the receiver while I berate some errant child.
  61. Quit giving the “look” to my children from across a crowded room. Instead, give the “smile” to my hubby across a crowded room.
  62. Move the beer and the wine into the main refrigerator.
  63. Make room for # 62 by getting rid of lunchables, juice boxes, juice, Gatorade, and the Pedialyte.
  64. Get rid of the freezer and the side of beef and whole hog that used to inhabit it on a regular basis.
  65. Start stocking up on the “noisy” toys to give my future grandchildren. Laugh wickedly when their parents realize  that these toys don’t come with an optional ear bud plug-in.
  66. Add on to my Christmas village collection and put it on a really low table.
  67. Use tweezers to actually tweeze something, as opposed to pulling out splinters.
  68. Quit explaining what plethora means.
  69. Marvel at how trash cans can stay empty for an entire week.
  70. Marvel at how the bathroom sink can stay clean for longer than 5 minutes.
  71. Marvel at the difference in color of the floor when it doesn’t have ketchup on it.
  72. Marvel at how the former boys’ bedrooms no longer smell like a gym locker.
  73. Marvel at how bathroom towels remain on the towel bar, neatly folded.
  74. Stop banning permanent markers and sharp scissors from the house.
  75. Give away the “Sex Talk” books.
  76. Stop saying, “We only talk about that at home.”
  77. Stop having a panic attack when I hear a school bus approach.
  78. Actually leave the house without having to return to the house 5 times for the favorite blankie, teddy bear, cheerios snack container, extra diapers and stray church shoe.
  79. Use the oven for something other than a frozen pizza or frozen cookie dough.
  80. Let my hair grow longer than my chin and refuse to put it up in a ponytail.
  81. Contemplate my navel.
  82. Stop eating food that’s “cute” or smiling back at me with a fruity set of lips.
  83. Stop evaluating restaurants based on whether they have a drive-thru lane, happy meals, a kids menu or a Rooty-Tooty Fresh ‘n Fruity option.
  84. Go back to “school” shopping for me. I plan to buy books with $ 20 words in them, try on oodles of cute blazers, vests and blouses that actually require ironing, and get myself a really, really tiny purse.
  85. Use the Irish linen tablecloth my dad gave my mother after returning from being stationed in Scotland without being concerned for its permanent demise.
  86. Use my grandmother’s hand-tatted lace placemats more than once a year.
  87. Listen to my music in my car.
  88. Be thankful I no longer know all the words to the songs on Barney, whether I wanted to know them or not.
  89. Take a trip without the children and not write a novel for the person responsible for caring or checking on our children/teens.
  90. Arrive somewhere on time or maybe…wait…can it be…5 minutes early. Be still my heart.
  91. Stop bribing the dentist’s receptionist to watch my kids while I’m in “the chair.” She now drives a Mercedes. Must have a wealthy spouse.
  92. Stop paying babysitters Steve Jobs’ last annual salary for 1 hour of babysitting because your children are that “challenging.” I heard, last week, that those sitters now own JC Penney.
  93. Start investing in Apple instead of paying them.
  94. Observe my children, not to correct or praise their behavior, but to notice which up and coming companies are worthy of my e-trade money.
  95. Sleep in without worrying about whether a kid got up for school on time.
  96. Stop buzzing through the living room every 15 minutes when the boyfriend or girlfriend is over for the evening.
  97. When I stub my toe, stop exclaiming “Sheee’s a really nice person” or “Dammmmmmmmmmms are places where beavers live.”
  98. Stop looking around before I open my lingerie drawer.
  99. Be a little wistful that one era of my life has passed and…
  100. Admire the adults I now refer to as my offspring because they stopped being kids a long, long time ago, in spite of their flawed parenting. 



Lessons Learned from De-Kidding the House…

cleaning gloves

Warning: Get a beverage first. 

The last child departed for college last weekend. While I am a little sad about this new phase of my life, I am also excited about his future and the future wedded life of two people who haven’t stopped thinking about parenting since about 1984. My dad had a philosophy about entering his retirement years: “You don’t retire from something; you retire to something.” In other words you make some plans for the next phase of your life and get busy living out those plans. That’s my choice for this empty nest phase of my life.

My mother-in-law, upon entering this phase of her life, took one of her offspring’s bedrooms and converted it into a child’s playroom. Why? Because she was already a grandmother and felt the “grands” (as she calls them) needed a safe place to play when visiting her home. She took the “remnants” of her own children’s playthings and created a haven for her eventual 12 grandchildren. Recently, she and her hubby made the decision that it was time to move in with their daughter and her family and thus, the old homestead, including the playroom, went on the market. However, before it sold, all of us gathered at that home to reminisce about our memories of the house they called home for 43 years. Chief among the “grands” memories are playing in that playroom and that just stuck with me.

It also occurred to me that if I want to invite people over for dinner in this next phase of life, some of them are going to have young children and they are probably going to get bored with adult conversation at some point in the evening. So, having a playroom for them to explore and discover would be an awesome way to entertain them until the day when I have my own “grands”. Therefore, each of my children’s bedrooms are about to be converted. One is already semi-converted–my daughter’s former bedroom is slowly evolving into a writing office for me. My eldest son’s bedroom will revert to a guest bedroom for all of our out-of-town and out-of-state relatives. But, the youngest’s room is about to become…as you probably guessed…the playroom.

I have big ideas for that playroom, probably too many to actually put into one small room, but the first part of creating the playroom means gathering up all the “remnants” of my kids’ childhoods and when you begin to clean out closets, drawers, toy bins, game cabinets and student desks, there are bound to be a few surprises along the way. Their belongings have migrated all over the house, so “de-kidding” the majority of the house is a really interesting process, especially when your kids really like hanging on to things. Here’s what I have learned so far:

    1. Wear a hazmat suit.
    2. A welding mask may come in handy, too.
    3. Bring your own supply of oxygen and put a clothespin on your nose.
    4. Buy a case of hospital gloves. Change frequently to prevent getting bubonic plague.
    5. I now know why we never have any flashlight batteries. They were at the back of the “games cabinet” for the games that do not require batteries. I suppose this is somehow logical in a kid’s world.
    6. We don’t have much in the “safe” toy department. I’m not sure if this is an indictment of my parenting or if this is because the safe toys were all destroyed by ruffian children long ago. I didn’t say my children were stupid.
    7. We have a lot of kid movies, but no VCR to play them on.
    8. We have a lot of kid music, but no cassette player to play them on.
    9. I’m thinking the kid cassettes and videocassettes will make an interesting grandparent story that begins, “When your mom or dad was a little girl/boy, they had to walk 12 miles to school every morning in the snow, uphill both ways and they watched movies on a machine called a VCR. What is a VCR???? Well, your dad was fond of putting apple cores in ours because he thought it was hungry…”
    10. Order a semi-load of garbage bags.
    11. Alert your trash service that you need a dumpster.
    12. Question whether each item is trash or simply something you do not understand because it bears no resemblance to the toys you thought you bought your child.
    13. Throw out all the flattened penny souvenirs on the pretense that they are a choking hazard.
    14. Throw out all the gum wrappers…even the ones with antique status from 1987.
    15. Step around the stain in the carpeting that your children have carefully hidden on the pretense that they wanted to rearrange their rooms.
    16. Be thankful you’re wearing the hazmat suit based on the discovery of # 15.
    17. A kid can pack all of his stuff for college and his room still looks the same. I guess he kept all the “good stuff” under his bed??? I don’t think I want to know. I’m officially scared. Maybe Maizie should come with me for cleaning out under the bed….for protection.
    18. If you ever wondered what happened to the change left over from sending them to school to pay for certain necessary items, it’s in the dresser drawer that will no longer open without a controlled demolition of your son’s room.
    19. What’s keeping it from opening? My guess would be an experiment with gum from 1987.
    20. Dress socks are apparently non-essential stuff for college.
    21. I’m totally amazed the Children’s Story Bible is not essential equipment for a college dorm.
    22. I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with the purple and aqua frosted pop tarts in my pantry. Oh. Wait. There are probably enough preservatives in those things to last until I have a grandchild old enough to be poisoned by them…around 2020.
    23. I’d throw out more stuff, but I’m pretty sure it would damage the ozone.
    24. You know it’s bad when the dogs won’t even sniff it.
    25. I have found a new reason not to eat….ever. My cardiologist will be so pleased.
    26. I’m not sure Wally World has enough bug killer and Lysol spray for this operation.
    27. I now understand why we had credit card debt for 25 years.


Monday’s Post: Has it been aegis for you, too? 🙂

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The Boy Leaves for Lubbock…

Tech logo

Several years ago I wrote about our oldest son leaving for his home away from home, Lubbock, TX. Lubbock is one of the most rapidly growing cities in the state of Texas and a large reason for that growth is the similar growth of Texas Tech University, home of the Red Raiders. Often referred to as “Raiderland,” it’s a great place for a young man to get an education and to further his walk with the Lord. Lubbock is also home to some very innovative, very large churches that cater to the Tech crowd. While there are innumerable “vices” in any college town, a Tech parent can assume that the friendly folks of Lubbock will do their best to help their students navigate the windy, “shark-infested waters” that they will encounter in Raiderland. What we didn’t know in 2004 when we first headed west from our home to visit the land of eternal red and black was the impression it would make on our other two children. Our daughter made Tech her # 2 choice, but wound up elsewhere because she did get an offer of admission from her # 1. And when Tech made the list of schools offering Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management, it became the # 1 choice for our youngest son. The youngest easily gained admission to his # 2 and # 3 choices, but Tech had higher standards and we were nervous that he might not be admitted. Fortunately, the folks at Tech saw something in him that we, ourselves, see in him–an uncanny ability in mathematics, an equally uncanny ability in Spanish and music, a love for great food, and a huge heart.

This weekend the youngest departs for Lubbock for the first time and his brother, the Tech alum, will be helping him to move to the very same hall he first inhabited as a freshman. To say that the oldest is rather proud that the baby brother is following in his footsteps is to utter one of the biggest understatements of the century. When that trip takes place, MaryAnn and the hubby will begin the next phase of parenting–the empty nest phase. Anyone who tells you that you stop parenting your children when they leave home obviously has never been a parent. But, it is, indeed, a “whole new ballgame” for us. Many of the feelings I wrote about the eldest leaving are now returning with a vengeance for the youngest. And my, how time flies! Here’s what I wrote about 4-5 years ago, with some additional thoughts in bold for this “go-round”:

The eldest departs for his real home soon, Lubbock. Let’s face it–our little town has not been home for quite some time. (Any parent who has endured the senior year of high school with their student already is getting an idea of that last statement!) And that is how it should be. But when he leaves, I know I’m one step closer to having to go back to reality…you know…working and chauffeuring and grocery shopping and all that stuff that consumes my normal life. (I think I can safely stop the chauffeuring part now!)

But, now I have to hug that big galoot I call a son and remind him to try not to besmirch the family name (He did plenty of that while here, I’m afraid, based on looking at FB pics), do some studying, do some work, call his mom and cut that hair…I couldn’t resist the last part…hee, hee. (I no longer have to study, thanks to completing the master’s a few years ago, but the youngest also needs a haircut.)

While I’m used to such departures, I still welcome and loathe them. I welcome them because it’s fun to watch your kids grow up and become who they’re meant to become and I loathe them because I do love the big galoot, despite his galootness. (Yes, I do love inventing words, especially when I have no earthly idea how to spell them correctly.) And because I love him, I will miss him.

However, I have missed one thing while he has been here. My near daily texts from the galoot brighten my day, even when he’s depressed, even when he’s whining (Yes, he whines…trust me on this….but in a manly way), even when he’s worried, and on the more rare occasions, even when he’s happy. Now, why do even sad, angry, manly whiny texts brighten my day??? Because the boy thought of his mom. A lot of manly men don’t and so, that makes him a good guy in my book…despite the lack of haircut. I did it again…hee, hee. (When he does cut that hair, it will be time to call the funeral director….I will need to be planted in the soil from the sheer shock.)

Safe travels, buddy…have a wonderful spring (this time the Fall semester) semester…enjoy dorm living…enjoy the games and remember to text your mommy. Love you. Oh…and…go to ALL of your classes, study every day and wash your clothing, sheets and towels more than once a millennium. If you want actual dates with the opposite sex, I also suggest bathing daily, wearing deodorant, wearing clean, presentable clothing and brushing your teeth….and cut that hair! 

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