An Empty Nest on Mothers Day

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photographs a perfectly ripe pear on a mattress when her grown son moves out of the house.It’s when they buy a mattress, “Sealy Posturepedic, Mom. And a frame, and I got sheets….” That’s when you know: they’re really leaving home this time.

The sob-fest starts. It almost feels like grieving again although this is good news. For him. He’s so excited, “Mom, I leave Tuesday.” I’m happy for him, and very proud, but my heart is a cracked egg.

When he next lands in town, he’ll only be visiting and it’ll be on a round-trip ticket with a predetermined disappearing-date. It won’t be some temporary flight of adventure where, with maybe an hour’s notice he’s gone who-knows-where, and suddenly sometime later – surprise phone call in the middle of the night, “Mom, you locked the door. I’m here, can you let me in,” he’s found his way home, his mission ended or the money ran out. No, from now on when it’s time to go home he’ll scurry towards his own place, far away, where he’s parked his own mattress that he bought himself with 12-month zero-percent in-store financing and free delivery. Where beer cans and pizza boxes grow in the kitchen corner because he hasn’t figured out yet that someone has to remove and recycle them periodically. Where he thinks, at last he’s gonna get a pet pit bull.

No more of those soaring times when I cancel out on girls’ movie night, “sorry, my son’s grilling steaks tonight.” No more finally falling fast asleep after I hear him slip into the house safely at 2AM. And the exquisite elation of being needed, “Mom, I locked my key in the car,” or “Mom, is there anything in the house to eat?” No more. It didn’t matter how early or late or inconvenient, I will miss those times.

Okay. Big breath. Get centered. It’s not like he’s going to Syria. He got a job. Everyone with kids eventually goes through this. Empty-nest syndrome. It’s just a little harder for me, maybe, having “lost” one.

If I’m lucky, I’ll get an occasional phone call. But I don’t remember calling my own mother when I left home. Not until I became a mother myself did I even consider she might be anything other than thrilled when the house emptied out. And Mom always said, “You should have one just like you.” Sigh.

He left for his new home before he could eat the pear I’d saved for him, nursed for days to perfect ripeness. Seeing that prized pear sitting alone, uneaten, triggered a major meltdown. And when I finally stopped sobbing, there was nothing to be done but devour the pear myself. And phone my mother.

 

Please remind me, what’s so wonderful about Mothers Day?

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8 thoughts on “An Empty Nest on Mothers Day

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Exquisite and poignant. Thank you for your honesty and for showing how vulnerable we can be. Actually, Mother’s Day originated as an anti-war women’s group that began during the Civil War. A far cry from what it’s become. Here’s an article about the history but you can find articles anywhere by googling: https://www.facebook.com/29996683634/photos/a.391385543634.168955.29996683634/10154767630098635/?type=3&theater

    Our family didn’t celebrate the Hallmark Holidays, but a phone call is lovely or a text to say Hi. I hope you got one of those. Sending love and a hug.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thanks for the article, Elaine. It was fascinating. This is not one of my fave holidays, but I’ve gotten to a point where it’s one I look forward to because I treat myself really well on that day. Queen for a Day. Shopping for flowers to plant (gardening tools too this year), having an inspiring dinner, hiking with friends. And getting that phone call from my son – yes, lovely. I got it, cheers!

      Reply
  2. Elaine Mansfield

    Achingly beautiful, Robin. Thank you for being so vulnerable in your writing. I’ve had an empty nest and a big empty house for 9 years. It just changed with one of my sons and his partner moving here. We never know what will happen next. I wish you a good way to get through Mother’s Day. I never celebrated it much or thought about it much, but it was nice to have my son’s call. Calling your mom is a great idea. I’ll buy Virginia flowers, but she definitely doesn’t feel like my mom and never did. Big hugs to you.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Happy or Peaceful Mothers Day to you, Elaine. I’m actually looking forward to the day now. I got a dinner invitation from a couple that also lost a grown daughter. And if the weather is okay I’ll take my inherited dog for a hike. Thinking of buying myself flowers and croissants and wild blueberry jam. Holidays have become days I spoil myself with the treats I might have gotten from kids or husbands. On those special days I go about my life knowing I do not HAVE to do anything, but choosing to do whatever. So pruning and weed-eating feel like options rather than chores. And somehow, this year I managed to produce and mail out a gift to my own mother early. My only worry is that I’ll get so involved in treating myself really well that I’ll forget to call my mom. This has almost happened a few times the past couple of years. Enjoy the moving kids. Cheers!

      Reply
      1. Elaine Mansfield

        I thought I’d commented, but didn’t see it. So now you have two. Worth it to share the article about early Mother’s Day as mom’s protesting the killing of their sons during war.

        Reply
  3. robinbotie.com

    Thanks, Mom. I wonder of you got my package yet. I hope you don’t mind what I made. And I’m sorry it got to be so big by the time I framed it. It kinda got away from me. So, as you read in my previous blog, you know that it took a bunch of time, and then, because I felt you probably wouldn’t like the portrait as I first published it, I cleaned it up and simplified the shapes. I even fooled around with the colors so it might fit into your color scheme. And then, trying to figure ut how to put together this new (for me) type of frame. Time. Yeah. So HAPPY MOTHERS DAY. Let’s celebrate some more when you get up north. Lots of love.

    Reply
  4. Gladys Botie

    Mothers Day is said to be the invention of commercial business entrepreneurs — to promote purchases of gifts for mothers — thereby increasing the profitable results and the stimulation to the economy. Mothers are supposed to enjoy the benefits as well, although that isn’t always the case. The gifts are frequently something the mother needs like a hole in the head — but she has to express great joy at the choice so that no ones feelings are injured. The joy is not for the gift — but for the effort of the thought. For me — telephone calls — e-mails — any time at all — and it’s mothers day. And every Tuesday I read my daughter’s blog makes me proud to be her mother.

    Reply

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