Kids, I Love You, But Are You Still Here?

I’m definitely thinking about writing another book, especially since I only have one more year until my contract runs out on this job as Stay-at-Home Mom. (I’m pretty sure you’re forced into retirement after the last child moves out of the house.)

I came to this decision after the wild, unprecedented success of my first book - the one in which 100 percent of the six people who read it didn’t have anything negative to say. (Three of them had nothing to say, but who’s keeping track? Certainly not the other three people. I haven’t heard from them in years. I think they’re avoiding me, hoping I won’t bother them with my next book.)

And since we’re all supposed to listen to the dolt who said, “Write what you know,” I’ve decided to write about Empty Nesters. Of course that’s just a front for the secret and real topic of the book: Being the Dreaded Parent of Older Kids.

When my kids were little, whenever a new family would move into the neighborhood, we would watch with anxiety through the windows as the moving van was unloaded, watching for Big Wheels, play kitchens, furniture with duct tape on it, boxes marked STUFFED AMINALS - Handel wif care - all signs that there were little kids coming.

When a neighborhood house gets inhabited with little kids, it’s a win-win for everybody, and not just the families in the neighborhood that are looking for playmates for their own little kids. Retired, empty nesters are no fun. They’re old and boring and they don’t have any good toys or snack food to borrow if you run out. They’re rarely home and when they are, they emit virtually no noise or activity of any kind. They could be dead in there for months and no one in the hood would know. Bo-o-o-o-ring.

So imagine my surprise when I turned into one of those blah-kins. My kids gradually and steadily grew up and moved out of the house. Wait a second, let me check something . . . oh, yeah, I still do have one child at home, but that hardly counts. She’s in high school and she won’t play Barbies with me anymore.

Being the parent of older kids is still somewhat new territory for me. I haven’t yet mastered Discouraging Promiscuity, Piercings and Harry Buffalo Parties 101. But I excel at Minding My Own Damn Business. I don’t know what to buy the newlyweds as mother of the groom, but I have a couple of appropriate outfits to wear to my grandchild’s christening.

Some of my other skills are going to have to be sent to the archives. I still know origami and knot tying from being a Cub Scout den leader. I can tie a shoelace while holding a baby, and I can child-proof a house in 7 minutes flat. I have good recipes for Jell-O squares and rice crispy treats shaped like teddy bears. None of that will do me any good when I retire from being retired.

Which is why I think I should write a book about how to be a parent of older kids empty nester. Because while I might not know what I’m doing in that arena yet, I plan to find out pretty quickly and I’d love to share my findings with you - while making fun of everyone who’s not doing it right, of course.

Diane Laney Fitzpatrick has lots of time on her hands as she procrastinates starting her new project. Send her friendship angels and other forwards from your coworkers to

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