Some parents are actually enjoying that empty nest

September 8, 2019

Wagons Ho! It’s time to load up the van and drop that kid off at college. Move ‘em in and move ‘em out, as they say in cattle drive lingo. It doesn’t matter if it’s your own kid or not; you’ve waited too long for this moment. So any college-age kid will do, as long as it walks and talks (well, somewhat). The last time you really understood a word they said was when they were still wearing a bib with Gerber’s green beans all over it.

It’s hard to believe that your child is going off to that ivy-covered institution of higher learning, where they will acquire the skills to make their way in the real world today. You have no idea what may be in their future, especially since the only profound statement that has come out of their mouth is, “There’s nothing to eat.” You’ve only known your child the last two years as a set of legs peering into a refrigerator. You could bronze them and put them at the end of the driveway, like those ceramic lions you see at the entranceway to a museum.

Let’s face it, from the time your child received that acceptance letter from a college that had no idea you can’t judge a book by its grades and that the only thing that still had power when the lights went out is an electric guitar with a backup battery, you’ve had to scour the help wanted ads for a second and third job.

Along with that acceptance letter comes an attachment known as the tuition bill, or in lieu of payment you can donate one of your kidneys. But the organ donation is only good for one year of that bill. Most parents have never seen that many zeroes except on a McDonald’s billboard advertising the number of hamburgers sold.

That first year of college, you really don’t need much in the way of furnishings. Whatever you have at home won’t fit in with the lifestyle your child has chosen anyway. That college décor can be best described as anything made out of cardboard. When visiting, which you will never be able to afford, even if it’s just a bus trip that costs 50 cents, but let’s say you did visit the college, there will be cardboard coffee tables, beds, lamps, sheets and desks, just to name a few items.

All things made of cloth are deposited on the floor. Accenting the cardboard décor is art work and intricate sculptures all created out of stacks of beer cans, no doubt saved for recycling by an environmentally conscious roommate named Major Budweiser. 

Still it is hard to say goodbye, with all the love and caring put into raising the little ones. Memories are still fresh. There might be a lot of crying and clutching each other by the parents.  But those weepy parents are mainly of the Labrador retriever or Dalmatian family. You know how emotional dogs can get. Your own husband is in the driveway gunning the engine and shouting, “Let’s go, there ‘s a football game on tonight!”

The empty-nest syndrome was once thought to be a real condition, characterized by a sense of depression and longing after the children were off to college or moved out to take a job. Seriously?

But that ship has sailed. The sense of loss, not so much. Mom has turned that bedroom into a craft fair workshop. St. Elmer’s Glue has become her token best friend. And dad is just getting his hearing back after years of heavy metal music bouncing off his inner ear canals.

It’s home sweet home. Hopefully you won’t hear the words graduate or medical school before you run out of shoes or food. So let’s start the cattle drive today; tomorrow will come soon enough.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter