Our Stories

Hannah’s artwork done during Covid-19 lockdown, summer 2020

I don’t post much on Facebook anymore because my kids are almost 20 and their stories and pictures are theirs to share. I don’t have as many of my own stories these days and no one wants to know what I ate for breakfast. (Ok, I had eggs and avocado.)

It’s harder than I expected, this second year with them gone. The pandemic gave us six bonus months together. I wish we had made more of the time. We just existed together, trying not to get on each others’ nerves with little to do and nowhere to go.

They are back where they belong now. This morning I am playing Harry Styles’ Fine Line at full volume. I didn’t know this album was sad.

I miss them. Not sure why. All they did was tease me and sleep until 3 pm. Sure, they fill up a house with their laughter and singing and secret twin language —only now it’s TikTok references that Scott and I don’t get.

Empty Nesting is hard, not because two 18-year olds leave home at once. Yes, that’s hard but they should leave home. The whole world belongs to them now.

It’s hard because they also take with them the 3-year old who needed you to tie his shoes and the 8-year old who looked for you in the carpool line and the 15-year old who still called you Mommy. They are still in there somewhere.

I miss them all so much. They grow up and look forward. We grow old and look back. We go from being the protagonist in our life stories to the supporting character to the unseen narrator remembering all that was.

 

 

There’s no place like home: From empty nest to broken nest to quarantine.

For a homebody like me, this forced social distancing from Coronavirus feels equal parts bizarre and comforting. My people are home with me.

For us, staying home means finally going home as our unplanned renovation thankfully winds down enough to move back in after six months—just in time for the “Stay at Home” orders from our county. We will have no kitchen for awhile so that will be interesting. This is surreal for everyone. For us, it’s like we’ve become avatars moving through the levels of a video game where each challenge gets harder and comes faster

We dropped off our second freshman child at college in August at New York University and flew home to a massive slab leak inundating our floors.

Every parent knows the stressful months leading up to a first-time college drop off. We have twins—so there were two universities, two dorms to outfit, two kids to prepare, two goodbyes to brave. It was a summer whirlwind of logistics, planning and worry and then right when we thought we could exhale, the level of this game got much harder.

The Money Pit’s problems cascaded. New plumbing. New floors. New windows. New framing. New electrical. New drywall. Heck, we might as well update the bathrooms and kitchen while we have it torn apart.

It might have once been rewarding to remodel so extensively. But I am tired. I am spent. I just wanted to adjust to our new reality of an empty nest The nest is empty alright. Nothing in it but traces of asbestos sludge and construction dust.

You know that part in every horror movie just before the killer shows up and the music crescendos into a single sustained high-pitched note? That note has been playing for six months.

And then the Covid-19 pandemic showed up. Damn.

Those same eager college freshmen we dropped off six months ago have been sent home, upset, confused and scared. They are under our roof even if our roof is temporary accomodations with ugly rented Cort furniture. We are unexpectedly together again. But we are safe. Unmoored but healthy.

I’m grateful for that.

In a few days we will once again sleep in our own beds in our own rooms. We could all use the familiar cocoon that is home right now. Nothing about this pandemic could have been imagined six months ago. We try to hold onto what we know. Home. Each other. Family. Comfort food. Familiar TV shows and movies.

I feel so badly for all those college kids away on their first year and for the high school seniors on their last year. All the precious lasts that will not happen. The last prom. The last baseball season. The last birthday party with childhood school friends. The last yearbook. The last time together as a group at graduation.

How tenuous it all is. How little we control as life tosses us around throwing hurdles and calamities our way. Our house comes undone. Our plans come undone. We are all so vulnerable. I can come undone. I can break.

I’m all out of grit. I tell myself we’re lucky. No one is sick. No one is hurt. I miss my mother and father. My Dad, a doctor, would be calm and logical. My mom would make food and tell stories. I am my children’s mom. They need me to be calm and logical and cook and tell stories. They need me to reassure them.

I need my home.

March 25, 2020

My Big Baby

img_5420

(My goofball making me “prom pose” with him.)

Almost every morning when I drop off my kids at school, my 16-year old son says, “Bye mom. I love you.”

Sometimes this big kid even says, “Bye mommy.” I don’t dare tell him how much I love it for fear he’ll get self conscious and stop.

When he was younger he’d call out to me from around the house with a nonsensical “mommy, my-my, moo-moo, meemee!” It made me laugh so of course, it was ceaseless. Boys are like that. If they get a girl to laugh…be ready for a repeat performance.

He still tries to get my attention with a booming rant of “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mama. Mom. Mommy. Mom. Mama. Mom” when I’m standing right in front of him.

When you decide to have a child, you of course imagine cute babies and adorable toddlers. You generally know that they grow up to become actual people. But here’s the thing. You should yearn to have a teenage son.

Teenage sons are just long, lanky toddlers with deep voices and body odor.

He’s affectionate in the same way he was as a little boy. But now it’s a text from school after a chemistry test or when he learns the Yankees will retire Derek Jeter’s number.

He sneaks up behind me while I’m cooking and lifts me off the ground or hugs me and tackles me onto the couch to tickle me.

When I’m anxious about something like his taking the car, he teases me (in an exaggerated Spanish accent for some reason.) “Jes mom, I’m going to get into an asseedent yust driving to eschool fife minutes awaay.”

A few days ago, he told me that a girl he took out on a date texted him that she just wants to be friends. “How does that make you feel?” I asked. “I’m cool. I don’t really care.” And he doesn’t.

He’s easygoing and naturally happy. But he will care someday. He will fall in love and all that affection and closeness will shift to her, as it should.

But for now he’s my guy. My big baby. And I will savor every single moment. I know it is fleeting and I don’t take a moment for granted.