Monday, July 18, 2011

The Nest, Emptying

Way back when, the organizers of the Matron's 20th High School Reunion decided to bestow what yours truly felt was a rather dubious honor: the youngest grandparents in the room!

Now, when the Matron attended said reunion, she was 37 years old with a four year old, a two year old and a dim idea of a third, someday. She remembers accompanying her polite clap with a grimace when the 'youngest' grandparents (at 38 with five year old twin grandchildren) accepted their award.

She wasn't sure for whom (note the appropriate use of preposition) she was grimacing, herself or the grandparents.

The grimace today?

Certainly, for her very own self!

Many, many of her friends from high school are solidly into or entering the grandparent phase. She grew up in a smallish town, where many of her former peers remained to raise their own families. Working at a college, many of her colleagues had their children young and then launched careers. Now, the Matron wishes she could say she launched her career and THEN had the babies, but she sort of dilly-dallied with the former and then found herself stuck in the midst of the latter and then launched that career.

A late bloomer, all around.

Today, the Matron realized that she will be 58 years old when her baby leaves the nest. That's old enough for great-grandchildren and the Smithsonian, folks.

Merrick: "How soon will you die after I grow up, Mama?"

Matron: "Many, many years."

Merrick: "Let's count!"

He wants the house.

Merrick's mcenary interests aside, today, the Matron is reflective about her stance as an 'older' parent of an 8 year old. Yes, yes, she can hear those keyboards clicking from other friends, readers and women who had babies well into their forties (actually, commonplace before the availability of birth control). But as one child, He Who Cannot Be Named (HWCBN), is away for an entire month at a prestigious (she had to throw that in) debate institute as the recipient of a national scholarship (if you can't brag on your blog what is the meaning of life?) and the middle child, dear Diva, is headed off to Stagedoor Manor for three weeks in August, the Matron and her husband are now more frequently alone with Merrick.

Merrick will be 13 when Scarlett leaves the house. He's stuck with his parents for five years.

So the Matron has a new understanding of that empty nest. The house doesn't suddenly shed itself of children. They dip their toes into the world, week by week, year by year, until they're ready to go. Sending them off into the world is a long process of love and good-bye, a process that started at birth, she supposes.

She's lucky to have this knowledge. Everything about Merrick is just a little sweeter, a little slower. Dipping his toes into independence currently means a week of day camp and helping Dad build a campfire. God-Buddha-Allah-Oprah-Universe only knows that both Merrick's parents will need more and more help with things like building campfires, hauling garbage and doing yard work as knees and backs succumb to decades of use. Such is the reality for the older parent.

Today, the nearly 13 year old daughter is preparing for her upcoming role as teenager by sleeping for 14 hours and the oldest is far away in another state.

But Merrick is nestled on the couch with two dogs by his side, a fever (poor guy!), tootsie pops, red tea, a Garfield book, and an abiding interest in guns. Sure, the other two are testing those waters, but the little guy? Firmly by her side--and he doesn't care how old she is.

As long as he gets the house someday.

10 comments:

smalltownmom said...

"As long as he gets the house someday." Made me laugh! My younger son once told me..."You can't ever get divorced or I get the house."

michiganme said...

Wow, when I attended my 20 year high school, there was the same award for youngest grandparents. WTH? It took me back to senior year when they had all those dumb awards for funniest, cutest, most athletic, blah, blah, blah. Now I think all those award-winners peaked in high school.

Though at the reunion I was relieved that they didn't have an award for the oldest parents with youngest kids.

trash said...

CK and I will be nearly pensioners by the time destructoBoy actually flies the nest. Although the way things seem to be going they will probably both be home fulltime by the time they are 22!

philosophyfactory said...

I'm so, so, so glad he won the scholarship!! As someone who has actually judged him, I can say he certainly deserved it as a middle schooler!

Depending on his personality and the amount of time he wants to devote to debate in college, he may want to try parliamentary debate -- as an alternative to the policy debate he's doing now... if so, contact me and we'll talk programs, options and scholarships...

MJ said...

I will interrupt my reading of your post to relay comments from my dh: If there's any solace, my dh's grandmother became a grandmother for the first time at the age of 80 years and became a grandmother for the last time at the age of 95 ~ there were 4 grandkids in my dh's family! She lived until she was 103 years old! You gotta lotta life left in you, Matron!

MJ said...

My girls are already anticipating my demise and are staking claims to the house, my jewelry, and (god forbid) my clothes, not that these items are of much value anyway! I only hope I wasn't so blunt with my mother when I was their age!

Minnesota Matron said...

you guys are great! Patty -- I'll be contacting you!!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Yeah, I get it. Doug really gets it. His friends' kids are getting married and having babies and G just turned seven.

jrtruluv said...

I love ready anything you write. I am so glad you are back from you hiatus! I have five kids. They are 20,18,17,13 & 6. You know how some birth control claims to be 99.9% effective? Yeah, those last two kids are that .1%. The oldest is a junior in college and #2 is leaving for college in a few weeks. Having the "baby" at home makes that transition a little more bearable.

kmkat said...

I had #1 Son at age 35 and #2 at 39. I just hope I live long enough to enjoy some grandchildren (and that the 22-yo, who just got engaged, will not decide to start a family too soon -- that way lies madness). Nothing wrong with being a late bloomer; the key is to bloom with all your might when you do :-)