Empty nester or just a clingy mom?

I've heard that change is good for the soul. It's said that it helps us grow as an individual. Personally, I believe that's what peanut butter M & M's are for but who am I to criticize if someone wants to make the glorious journey to self-discovery.

Me? I've been too busy agonizing over every possible lost moment of my childrens childhood, cherishing every small memory and making a complete nuisance of myself by phoning and yes texting each of them at least once a day. (I refuse to talk about my Facebook Stalker Mom habits, I plan to deny everything)

So this is me. Clingy mom. Not to be confused with a Klingon mom, though I reckon at times my kids thought they were one in the same.

But here's the thing; I thought--somehow--

I'd be cooler than this. It's down right embarrassing at times but I've accepted the inevitable truth--

It's all their fault.

As best as I can recall, the threats of hating and leaving me started when my oldest was 5 and I caught her stealing from the grocery store. She sobbed all the way home. Once there she sat in time-out with her arms defiantly crossed and glared as she uttered the words, "I hate you."

It wouldn't be the last time I'd hear those three words and of course both of her brothers followed suit at one time or another. By the time my youngest was 18, "I hate you" had transformed into, "When I move out, I'm never speaking to you ever again." (Ah, those blissful teenage years, if only they'd follow through on their threats!)

And while I'd spend the hours after those confrontation telling myself they didn't mean it, I could never quite shake it off. I dreaded the day all of them would be grown and on their own, (that is when I wasn't looking forward to no more jars of moldy Jello in my son's sock drawer).

Little did I know that I'd been given the key to my fears years ago.

Five years ago:

I was married a second time for the briefest moment and he-who-never-was (marriage was annulled so I figure--that's his name now) kept complaining about my kids leaving their water cups on the counter next to the fridge. I tried to explain to him that we had developed the system of reusing a cup instead of dirtying all of them. (It's the reasonable thing to do when you live in the desert. We conserve on water by having less dishes to wash. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

That argument ended with me telling him, "Oh get over it--one day, soon enough, there won't be any pink cups on the counter to complain about."

My son, who had a habit of standing at the top of the stairs, eavesdropping, overheard the conversation. And in his usual way (mainly cheeky mingled with hilarity), came down, grabbed a pink cup from the cupboard, (glanced at his step-dad) filled it with water, took a sip and left it on the center island but not without a grin aimed my direction.

So back at the ranch:

Moving day for my last child was an emotional one. I watched as the bed, dresser, couch and chair I'd given him, paraded one by one, out the door and onto the truck.

When I wasn't helping, I hid in my office pretending that I had much to do until it was time for him to go. For a clingy mom, you have no idea what it took to accomplish that feat.

I waved to him and closed the front door without a tear. After all, I had a plan. I was set to have a fabulous pity party (yes it involved indulging in chocolate and watching movies till dawn) but not until I walked through the rooms my children had occupied. I readied for the good cry I'd promised myself when I opened the door to the closet in the computer room. (best laid plans, right?)

Stuffed knee deep were books, towels, discarded old t-shirts and a three foot sized Pokémon. I swear, I've thrown that giant yellow, (what the heck is Pokémon anyway?) out at least half a dozen times and he just keeps reappearing each time in different closets of the house. Can you imagine the headlines?

"Empty-nester gone mad, due to haunting by the ghost of Pokémon past".

After giving the yellow beast a firm kick to the back of the closet, I grabbed the clothing and headed for the laundry room when I spied a pair his shoes, right in the middle of the floor. "Stephen!" I said through gritted teeth. In the hallway sat two more pairs of shoes and dirty socks adorned the laundry room floor.

Back upstairs I found blankets, notebooks, scrapbooks and various odds and ends in my daughter's closet. My oldest boy had left his box of scouting memorabilia, Hardy Boys and more than a dozen Animorphs books. (Now I understand the Animorph books, no 22 year old is going to be caught dead with them on a bookshelf in his college apartment).

Room after room had little hidden treasures and remnants of the time they spent with me. A printer still sat in my office that was meant to go with my youngest son. My daughter's favorite doll and basket were in a box in the storeroom along with old tutus (what is it with girls and pink netting?) and I found a small Jazz basketball tucked away on a shelf...behind wads of old school notes, gum (both used and unused) and candy wrappers.

The basement room floors where my youngest had his "pad" were cluttered with papers and bits of left over things he couldn't be bothered to pack.

"Dang it. He promised he wouldn't leave a mess." I said, completely forgetting to feel abandoned or clingy and stood glaring

at the mess. "I'm going to call him, right now and tell him to come back and finish."

I stomped up the basement stairs and into the kitchen where I'd left my cell phone on the counter next to the fridge, ready to get after him but was caught up short by the sight that greeted me as I entered the room. There, sitting on the center island was a pink cup, half full.

And like magic, it reappears every Sunday when he comes home...

...to do his laundry.

Empty--nester? Please. As if!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have three phone calls to make.


  1. The first time my daughter came home for a weekend "visit" from college, she was dragging two giant canvas bags full of dirty clothes behind her. I'm standing there speechless as she says "What? I know how you are about feeling needed!" She's such a giver, that one.

  2. You gotta love em anyway! Cute post, Kim.

  3. I think it multiplies. My boys have carted carloads of stuff out of the house, but every time I go back into the room it's full again!

  4. I love this. And I relate, I think. Mine are still young, I know, but I try not to rush the years. As tired as I get of being needed... someday I'll want to be needed, and they'll be gone.

  5. This is why I taught my kids to do their own laundry at ages 8 and 11.

    But I still call them a lot. They will always be my kids.

    Cute post,especially the pink cup thing!

  6. Jeanette, Oh he does his laundry when he comes home, he just didn't want to pay for the extra rental on a washer and dryer and oh mommy's soap is free!

    Update: This was a text message I received this morning: If I had to. Could I move in with you again? And what about my kitties?

    Like I said, I'm just a clingy mom. Who has time to be an empty nester?

  7. loved that one. adorable. my daughter is home for the summer and all her belongings. her room is piled high with boxes and totes....till sept..lol


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