T Minus 365 to Empty Nest


I was standing in the kitchen this morning talking to my husband and daughter about the fact that a year from now she’ll be going off to college and we’ll officially be Empty Nesters.

“It’ll be just like before we had kids,” I said to my husband, cheerfully. “Just you and me.”

My husband turned to my daughter and mouthed, “Take me with you.”

That’s the difference between us. Although I feel much more comfortable in the Parenting Minors phase (I’ve been a well-oiled parenting machine for 24 years) I’m enough of an adventurer to dive headfirst into the next stage: Empty Nest.

It won’t be exactly uncharted territory. We were married for two years before we had our first baby. But the last time we were on that path, we were barefoot, without supplies, and wearing shoulder pads, pastels and other impractical clothing. This time around, we’re prepared for the journey. We’re wiser, more financially secure, and with a nice layer of fat to protect us, should a crisis arise. We have better hair, too.

I think we should try to relive some of our experiences from back then. I don’t know why you don’t hear about more married couples doing this. What better way to have a mid-life crisis and relive your younger, more carefree days than with your spouse right there with you to keep you out of trouble?

For my husband and I to do this we would have to re-create several practices from those years BK (Before Kids).

Go to many Jimmy Buffett concerts

This is not a problem. Jimmy Buffett will be doing concert tours on the road even if it’s in a Senior Center van. The guy will never retire. He has too much invested in Hawaiian shirts and giant parrot stage props. You can do “fins to the left, fins to the right” with a carpal tunnel brace, can’t you?

Eat dinner in front of a large TV set

My husband and I used our kitchen table for poker games and sitting around drinking beer out of cans while our friends smoked. I think I folded some towels on it once. For actually eating, we took our plates to the living room and ate in front of our humongous TV console with meshy speakers on either side of the screen. Now, our TV is about the same size, but it’s all screen. We ate a lot of spaghetti back then. I can definitely dig that.

Stay late at the bars and still be able to get up and go to work

This is going to be a little tougher. We may have to get a trainer and go through some beers-and-shots workouts before next year rolls around. When we were in our 20s, we were experts at deflecting the effects of alcohol. I think we may have been made of granite. We often would close The Backstage, go home and heat up some spaghetti, watch the late movie, and get up three hours later, go to work and do it all over again. This explains why neither of us were winning any awards for being on the ball at work. This is also why it’s always better to hire an older person than someone who is young and doesn’t have kids yet.

Have St. Patrick’s Day parties

It’s high time we started doing this again anyway. We used to have a St. Patrick’s Day party every year that was always memorable. And by memorable, I mean everyone remembered the year we did an Irish wake theme with funeral flowers and a fake casket, the year we made everyone get up and tell a joke, the year we had the party at a German club (I can’t remember what we were thinking there), and the year my friend Arlene made delicious tiny corned beef sandwiches on bite-sized potato rolls, thus inventing the Slider.

We’ve got a year to get ready for Empty Nest: “I Love the ‘80s,” but I’m looking forward to it. Not that I’m wishing away my current phase: Having a Senior Who Gets Home From School Ridiculously Early Every Day.

But I feel better knowing that at least I won’t look at my husband and say, “Who are you and what makes you think I have anything to say to you at all?” He’ll either be with me eating spaghetti in front of our big TV or he’ll be with my daughter at college.

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