The Empty Nest Fills Back Up –
Or, How Long is Summer?
Brittany came home in May for her summer break. I had braced myself because I remembered my first night home from Freshman year when my mom told me not to stay up too late because I had to work the next day, and how I thought, “great, summer is going to be all rules and restrictions after a year of freedom!”
I don’t remember what I actually said to my mom, but Brittany told me she stays up until all hours at school and why was it more important for her to be well rested for a summer job then for her classes?
I was warned that when college kids come home they invariably think their parents aren’t quite as intelligent as they once believed. Sure enough, within the first 24 hours Brittany said something along the lines of she knew better because she was in college.
Her dad squelched that pretty fast by telling her he has an MBA, her mom has a BS and she, Brittany has one year of college.
The first night she got home I stayed up helping her unpack. I knew if I didn’t she would live out of a suitcase all summer.
I was in her closet folding all her t-shirts: making a stack of white ones, a stack of pink ones, a stack of black ones, etc. when out of the corner of my eye I saw her carry a suitcase to her underwear drawer, turn it upside down, dump the whole thing in and close it with her knee.
She caught me watching her and said, “You can do what you want in my closet, but this is the way I like this drawer. I decided at school it’s less stressful.”
How can a mess not be stressful? But, I let it go. Until a few days later when I was carrying up a load of perfectly folded clean laundry. I put everything away, but the underwear. I opened the drawer and looked from my neat stack to her heap. I wasn’t sure what to do. I knew if I just laid it on her bed, she would sleep in the bed and make it in the morning and the laundry would still be there. Should I just toss the nicely folded stuff into the drawer in a jumble? Should I fold the rest of the clothes in her drawer after all and risk stressing her?
All of a sudden I caught sight of a picture on her dresser of me holding her when she was a baby. I thought about how fast time goes by and how short the summer will end up being.
I set my pile neatly down in the middle of her heap and closed the drawer.
Nancy Geiger and her husband are empty nesters with their daughter Brittany (their only child) now a junior at college. When she left home Nancy started writing a monthly column for their local weekly paper about parenting a college student long distance. After 17 years as a travel agent for American Express, Nancy decided to commit herself to freelance writing and starting an online store, 2 blogs, a website and LOTS of volunteering! She even just published a cookbook called A Brides Cookbook or surviving the First Year. http://abridescookbook.com
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