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View from the Empty Nest: The Quotidian

The majority of days of one’s life are eventless. We wake, dress, eat, do chores, read, watch TV. If there are pets, we tend to them. Weather isn’t remarkable. We go about the business of living, with absolutely nothing exceptional occurring.

This is what we don’t remember. How does one go about pinpointing which exact Thursday it was that there wasn’t any coffee left, so we had to have tea, instead? Or the day that we forgot to pick up the drycleaning.

No. We remember instead the day that the doctor said we needed a biopsy. The day that the car slid on the ice and rammed into a tree. Or we recall with a glow the day he proposed, or that evening that the moon was full and the phone rang with the news that a child was pregnant.

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View from the Empty Nest: All Alone but Not Lonely

Among the books I have read lately are a few about people who are bedridden. One of them was about a woman who was mysteriously ill, another about one who merely wanted attention, and a third about a man who lay dying, looking back on his life.

All of the people in these books spun a rich life inside their heads that made the time alone pass quickly. Days flew by as they reminisced about long-ago luncheons with their friends (every sip of champagne remembered, every morsel of food); days spent in the arms of lovers, or simply the butterflies they chased. Their inner lives were absolutely fascinating.

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Dancing Chocolate Cake

As I watched Jay grow from infancy to age seventeen, I expected (without realizing) that she would evolve into a version of me. That is not the case. Jay is Jay: unexpected, confident, wise, mature, funny, and surprisingly selfless.

Jay and I went to a Sheryl Crow concert recently. Jay went because she knows that I like Sheryl Crow, whose music makes Jay sick. Literally. For years running, I listened to Sheryl Crow on our annual road trip from wherever we were living to my extended family’s cabin in Montana. Since Jay frequently experiences motion sickness, she developed an association over the years. Play a few measures of “Soak up the Sun,” and Jay starts feeling queasy.

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View from the Empty Nest: Hostess Gifts

I try to do the right thing. Say “please” and “thank you.” Defer to those older than I—which is getting harder, as just about everybody seems younger than I am nowadays. But certain niceties seem to elude me. I forget.

Martha Stewart would never attend a dinner party without a hostess gift. A nice bottle of wine. Homemade cookies. Rosemary roasted cashews. Of course, Martha would hand wrap them in gift paper she stenciled herself, and there would be a gift tag tied with decorative twine.

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Five Second Rule

Dear Scientific Community,

I heard something on the radio last week that sent me into a spiral of despair, rocking my parental philosophies to their very core.

The five second rule isn’t real.

Apparently, you have again set out to prove that just as much bacteria can collect on a piece of food that has sat on the ground for five seconds as would collect on a piece of food sitting there for, say, 30 seconds. Or five minutes.

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Just a Phase

Note: This post was inspired by Glennon Melton’s “Don’t Carpe Diem”over at Momastery. Do yourself a favor and read it, if you haven’t already: it’s a great one!

Oh yes, I remember: standing in a checkout line with tired young children, one or all of them whining, and an old lady looking at them adoringly then turning to me with a nostalgic smile to say, “I hope you’re enjoying every minute!” As guilt-inducing as those comments were, I miss them. I do because I’ll tell you what: nobody is saying anything like that anymore. I’m not sure when the “we-don’t-think-they’re-cute-anymore” age officially starts, but I do know that no one looks at my 13-year-old boys and my 17-year-old daughter with a doting smile that says, “carpe diem,” particularly not if one of them is doing anything outside the realm of normal, like wearing cheetah pants with patent-green-leather boots or sporting freshly dyed hair.

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Under the Bed

I have to give one of my cats pills for the next two weeks. He had an abscess, and the antibiotics will cure it. Easy for the veterinarian to say. The first pill went down with ease. Cats, however, learn very fast, and from that point since, he has avoided me like the plague.

Cats are creatures of habit, however, and Salami’s (named by my husband; I have no idea) favorite hiding place is his only hiding place.  He runs under the bed when he sees me coming. This is handy for me, but also depressing, because the following is a list of the things that are also under there with him:

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For the Love of God: Stop Talking!

My dear sweet children, I don’t know how to state this delicately, so I’ll just get straight to the point: will you please—for the love of all things true, beautiful and quiet—stop talking to me every second of every minute of every day. You do not need to say aloud to me every thought that passes through your little minds—or big minds. Whatever. The size of your minds is not the issue here. The point is that I need time—perhaps a minute or two a day, maybe an entire hour, if I may be so bold as to ask—to actually think and function.

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I Should Have Majored in Homework

I have discovered yet another form of parenting torture.  Homework.

I used to have a sort of romantic notion of homework.  Cozy afternoons spent around the kitchen table as we drink hot chocolate and I help my children form the habits and organizational skills that will help them become successful adults.

Well, I’m over it.

Never in my life have I had to endure something that can simultaneously make me feel so stupid and at the same time test my patience to such a level that I’m trying to remember what happened to that Vicodin prescription from The Hub’s root canal last year.  This dual level of anguish is brought on by the fact that we have both a sixth grader and a second grader.  On the one hand we have the Monkey, whose math homework is beginning to resemble something I once saw on a tour of the Air and Space Museum.  On the other hand is the ladybug.  Sweet, sweet ladybug, who is taking her sweet sweet time learning to read and write.

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Linda and the No Good, Puffy, Cranky and Very Hormonal Day

This post was inspired by Judith Viorst’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, one of my favorites . . . since college.
This morning, I woke up and the laundry was piled something like up to the sky and I tried to find my favorite panties that don’t do that crawly thing but they were already mixed in with all of the other ugly underwear, so I had to wear my granny panties, and I hate my granny panties. “I’m having a bad day,” I said. “I think I’m a little hormonal.” But no one even listened.

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