My empty nest didn’t last long. As suddenly as the oldest fledgling flew, they returned, with circumstantial drama and a broken heart (which, of course, hurts a mom’s heart, too.) Things didn’t work out with the new roommates nor with the significant other, and a few weeks later we now have our 21-year-old back with us.
In what seems to be typical timing, everything blew up at the very moment Hubs and I were packing to leave on vacation, our first trip without kids in…oh, twenty-one years. We were scheduled to leave our house at 7:30 on a Tuesday morning. Around 8:00 the night before came the text messages followed by a tear-filled hour-long conversation in which it became clear that said kid needed to get out of their situation and return home immediately.Greyhound Bus Lines now emails me every day, believing we’re bff’s because I bought one ticket from them.
My spouse and I went on our long-anticipated, non-refundable trip nearly as planned (a story for another blog post) while our kid made their way home by bus. I arranged for someone to pick them up and contacted some wonderful local women friends, who agreed to check in and be mama hens in my absence. And we came home from vacation to a no longer empty nest.
The silver lining for me was hearing “I love you, Mom” and “Thanks for not saying ‘I told you so'” and “Thanks for giving me a place to live.” I have striven in my parenting life to avoid I told you so. I hate having it said to me and in my experience, it never helps the situation.
So what do you do with a 21-year-old who is no longer in school and unemployed and sad? The answer for me has been giving them a list of household chores in lieu of room and board, staying up at night listening to them process, watching some fun TV shows together and tossing suggestions for job opportunities their way.
Things are looking up. There are fewer tears and as of yesterday, the offspring unit is gainfully employed. They can get some work experience and earn needed money while figuring out next steps. I’m calling this a delayed gap year. Who says you have to take your life steps in a certain order?
Life remains interesting and unpredictable.