Dear Santa…

Dear Santa:

I realize I’m not some cute little blonde kindergartner; I’m a no-longer-cute, 50 year old menopausal nana. After years of making sure everyone else has a perfect Christmas experience, complete with decorations in every room, cookies baked months in advance and tucked away in the freezer, and perfectly chosen, beautifully wrapped gifts, I’m exhausted. I’ve decided it’s my turn. Hell, I’ve been exceptionally good this year; I deserve my own visit from Santa.

I know you’re a busy guy, so I’ll try to make things easy for you. The following is my grown-up Christmas list, in no particular order.

  1. Please make these hot flashes go away. They are not very sexy, although my husband kind of likes them since they typically happen at night and I end up stripping. However, I prefer to maintain a tolerable body temp and to keep my clothes on. Most of the time, anyway. I am trying to stay on your ‘nice list’ afterall.
  2. Santa, since I’ve turned 50, I keep gaining weight. I can hardly eat a slice of bread without seeing the needle on the scale inch toward the right. I would really like to have my 30-year-old body back – the one that could eat pizza and ice cream and not gain weight. I wouldn’t even complain about the stretch marks. Just let me eat some bread, dammit!
  3. I would like a new bathroom mirror. Every time I look in mine, my mother is looking back at me. It’s really creepy, Santa. All I see are crows’ feet accentuating squinty eyes, lines criss-crossing some old lady’s forehead, and the down-turned corners of my mother’s mouth. When I inquire, “Who’s the fairest of them all,” my mother peers back and replies, “Sure as hell not you, Sweetheart!”
  4. While you’re at it, I also need a new full-length mirror. Please make it a high quality one, not some cheap piece of crap like I currently own. The one I have adds at least 15 pounds. Seriously. They don’t make those things like they used to.
  5. I could really use some magic joint cream (not a magic joint; I’m too old for those now). I’ve noticed when I am wrapping all those gifts, it takes me much longer to get up off the floor. And it hurts. What’s up with that? Is that why old people resort to gift cards? They can no longer sit on the floor to wrap gifts in the glow of the tree lights? Well, now that I think about it, maybe a joint would help these aches and pains – or at least make me not care. Medical marijuana is a thing, right?
  6. You know that crepey, saggy skin you brought me last year? Take it back. I don’t like it at all. It totally ruins my cool nana image, and, well, it just doesn’t look good at all. It’s a little embarrassing to be in a plank position in yoga class, and to see my skin touching the floor.
  7. Santa, let’s talk boobs and ass. Not in a ‘Santa is a pervert’ way, though. I realize there isn’t much to talk about, but mine seem to be heading south. Could you just drag them a little northward with you? You’re already heading that direction, so it shouldn’t be a big deal. I just want some perkiness. Is that too much to ask?
  8. Something is happening to my eyes. Could you please bring me a new pair of eyes? I just want to be able to read menus in dimly lit restaurants without pulling out my Iphone flashlight. For some reason, that embarrasses my kids. And any font smaller than 12 is also impossible to decipher, even with my trusty bifocals.
  9. I’d like my own elf. You seem to have plenty at the North Pole, so surely you could spare just one. My elf could decorate my house, buy and wrap all the gifts, bake the cookies, plan the meal, clean my house, and just bring about overall Christmas cheer. I could actually sit back and enjoy the holiday season instead of always feeling like I’m behind. I could attend holiday parties and drink wine; I could sit and gaze at our perfectly decorated tree and drink wine; and I could watch Elf and drink wine. Imagine what fun that would be (okay, I’ve done that, and it really is fun!). I would even be willing to put out cookies and wine for you on Christmas Eve. Wouldn’t that make your trip more interesting?
  10. I’d really appreciate a smaller house. I know most people ask for bigger and better, but I want just enough space for my husband and me because people keep moving in. It had been daughters moving back and grandsons taking up residence; we’ve housed a German exchange student and a college friend of our youngest, but now our empty nest is full because of my brother. Our life is like some bad comedy where the crazy uncle moves in. We finally get rid of all the kids and have four glorious months of having the house all to ourselves, and boom! Once again our nest explodes. Think one bedroom, Santa.
  11. Finally, Big Guy, my list seems a little self-centered, so in the spirit of Christmas, I’d also like to ask for something for my neighbors near and far, both democrats and republicans. Please, PLEASE, cancel Trump’s Twitter account.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

 

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Just Kidding About That Empty Nest

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog about being a semi-empty nester, and my enjoyment of this new lot in life. A quiet home that stays somewhat clean for a couple of days, being able to come and go as I please, no more carpools or car seats…it’s a great life. I wrote about not really understanding the parents who lament their children leaving for college. Remember? Did you read that blog? If you did, please know that God has a sense of humor. Why else would He give us orangutan butts to laugh at? Or possums? Those creatures are just plain ugly. And why would God, after I had written such a well-received blog, manage to bring all of my daughters back to the nest, along with a couple extras?

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Bethany lives here. She’s beginning her new career as an elementary teacher, and is staying here while she gets on her financial feet. Addie is home from college for the summer. And now, Morgan and her two young sons are camping out for awhile. How long you ask? I do not know. Her family is in transition, moving from South Carolina back to Tell City. They are waiting to close on the sale of their home, and will then wait to close on the sale of their new home. The timing of everything has been less than optimal, which means Morgan and the boys needed a place to stay until everything goes through. That place is here. For the first time in ten years, all three of my girls are under my roof. Empty nest? Hell no. This nest is overflowing!

My car seats are back in the car; my home is fr from quiet; and it’s unlikely it will stay clean for more than five minutes. Dirty diapers, messy faces, fighting sisters. It should be an interesting summer ‘vacation’. We are happy we can provide shelter and love to our kids and grandkids; I just hope I have the energy to keep up with everyone. I’ve given the “I will not be providing maid service this summer” speech. Maybe they’ll even help me wash the windows, clean the cabinets, and price yard sale items. Maybe they’ll wash my car, cook the meals, and deadhead my flowers. Maybe?

So, parents, just when you think you’ve gotten your children raised and you and your spouse can have an extended honeymoon in the privacy of your own home, your grown children could return to your nest with little birdies of their own. You have some choices.

  1. Run! Move away. My mother used to say she was going to move to Arizona. Now I get it, Mom!
  2. Get a one-bedroom apartment. Don’t own a couch or any other piece of furniture that could become a bed.
  3. Make out with your spouse every chance you get. It totally grosses out your grown kids. They won’t stay long.
  4. Tell your kids you’ve taken up a nudist lifestyle when at home. They’ll run.
  5. Keep minimal amounts of food in the house. They like to be fed.
  6. Or, you could just embrace the fact that your kids enjoy being with you, and that you are able to help them. You could enjoy the time you have with your grandkids, and know that you are making memories that they’ll come to cherish. You could put those car seats in your backseat, the playpen in your bedroom, and pull out the sofa-bed. You could know that you are blessed to have healthy, happy kids and grandkids, and that there are plenty of empty-nesters who would love to be in your situation. And you could invest in wine coolers.

 

Empty Nest?

As my friends and I work our way through middle age, I often hear the term ’empty nest’ tossed around. As children approach high school graduation and move on to college, many parents post their tear-filled moments on social media, bringing on a barrage of dismal responses. I, myself, posted a few photos last spring as my youngest daughter went through the rite of high school graduation. I was to be an empty nester.

And I was excited about it! After years of being a chauffeur, maid, laundress, cook (or drive-thru driver), I was finally finished! Seriously, folks, why get so upset? You’re getting your life back…your life. Not the life that is solely dedicated to making certain you don’t end up on Dr. Phil with your kid telling the world how you screwed him or her up, but the life where you can actually watch Dr. Phil uninterrupted if you choose. You can eat cereal for supper every night if you want. You can make dinner plans without checking your kid’s schedule. No more parent-teacher conferences, sleep-overs (I managed to avoid these. My kids didn’t want their friends to see me when I was tired and cranky. Bummer.), prom dress shopping (Is that hell or what?)…And you think you’ll miss that?

And then there’s this…

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It’s clean, and it will remain that way until my young college student comes home. I had no idea there was carpet in that room. And that quilt has several shades of blue that haven’t seen the light of day in months. I’ve heard some parents say they would miss the messes once their kids were gone. Really? Not this momma.

Full disclosure…I am not totally an empty nester. Did you know they sometimes come back? It’s like this cruel joke. You finally get rids of all of your kids, and you make plans with your spouse to do all the exciting things you’ve sacrificed for years (and years and years), and then someone returns to the nest. With the cost of college, and subsequent loan payments, starting out in a new career is hard, and sometimes not very well compensated. Our middle daughter is in that situation. She has a bachelor’s degree, landed a job in her chosen field of education, and now she is poor. Financially, living with us just makes sense. Dammit. We have told her that we are going to sell our house and move into a one-bedroom apartment. She just smiles. Every time she buys something, I say, “You’re going to live with us forever, aren’t you?” “Yes.”

As I analyze my feelings about the potential to have an empty nest, I wonder why I am not saddened like my friends. Am I that heartless? Do I suck as a mom? Do my children hate me? Do I hate them? Without a doubt, I know that the answer to two of those questions is no. I’m afraid to ask my daughters the other two questions. I became a mom when I was 21. At that time in my life, I thought I was so old and so mature. I was a child. For the next 27 years, my priority was my daughters. I attended all of their many activities no matter how boring (golf); I encouraged, supported, disciplined, cared for, and loved with all my heart. I laughed, cried, screamed, and cheered. For 27 years.

Now that they are grown, I can enjoy them as adults. I can cuss in front of them  (It was a struggle to control that for 27 years), tell them inappropriate jokes, and act as their friend instead of their mom. There is a difference (although some parents don’t seem to get that concept). Do I still worry about each of them? Absolutely. Do I still want to boss them around? Yup. Always will.

I think my situation is a little different because I am a teacher. I am still around kids all the time, and I still attend numerous school events and ballgames. I do miss Addie. When activities that she was involved in at school take place, I miss seeing her there. Then I just come home and look at her clean room, and I’m okay again. I also have a lot of hobbies and jobs. Between school and working out and coaching cheer and an academic team and real estate and the gym…I don’t have time to get all weepy.

So, parents of the Class of 2016, do not be sad. Make plans. Move that kid of yours to college and reclaim your life. They visit. Clean his or her room and then just sit there and bask in the lack of smelly, dirty clothes, dishes that have been in there for weeks, and piles of clothes that could be clean or dirty – who knows? You’ve done your job. If you did it well, your child is ready to be independent. Be proud of that. Isn’t our goal to raise strong, independent, successful, and kind people? And someday you’ll have grandkids, and let me tell you, they are way cooler than kids!