Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rethinking An Empty Nest

Since I wrote my last post about being an empty-nester, I’ve been feeling a little blue, even though I received some wonderfully generous comments from other parents who get what I’m saying.  (Your support is very, very welcome.  Thank you, all.)

But then God or the Universe or whatever decided that I had had enough wallowing.  And brought me to a blog written by a young father of two (  Whereupon I remembered a night about twenty-one years ago.  A night that will never be forgotten by three of the four people who lived it. 

The night in question involved communal, familial vomiting.  It involved the Baby Who Started It All and then mercifully and uncharacteristically slept for ten hours.  It involved a five-year-old boy who moaned every twenty minutes, “Mommy, I don’t like this!” and then threw up again, sometimes in the toilet, sometimes not.  It involved a (then-) husband who raced home from his late-night job to be ill loudly and repeatedly.  It involved me standing in the kitchen guzzling orange juice, knowing full well that I was going to barf it up in the sink before I could get to the bathroom.

At around 3 am, I turned my head to look at my husband.  He, I, and the boy were lying on the guest bed to avoid waking up the baby.  My eyelashes hurt.

“I would trade a year of my life for a ginger ale,” I said.

Whereupon then-husband staggered to his feet, got in the car, and drove to Safeway (where they remembered him from the week before, when he’d shown up in the middle of the night to buy tomato juice for the dog who’d just been skunked).  And returned with a big bottle of Canada Dry.

We may be divorced, but I will never forget his gallantry that night.  (Or what he sounded like throwing up.  It was kind of terrifying.   Women don’t sound like that.)

Remembering all this, I can laugh (a little).  I think most families live through at least one night like this.  It becomes lore.  It bonds you.

But it’s really hideous, and I don’t ever want to do it again.

So thanks, Kevin Hartnett, for reminding me that a nest populated by two middle-aged birds who are meticulous about getting their flu shots has an upside. 

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