A taste of the empty nest

We had an interesting experience last week during spring break. My son Daniel spent the entire seven days with his grandmother and cousin in Missouri. It was the first glimpse for me of what it might be like when we have an empty nest.

Daniel had stayed with Grandma for a week about four years ago and that didn’t go so well. Grandma Phoebe has almost a complete lack of technology at her house, something my little techno guy hadn’t anticipated. There was a computer, but no Internet access and a television, but no cable or satellite. He took along his Gameboy but forgot the charger, so once the battery wore down, he had to rely on other activities – board games, Legos, books and other non-electronic play things. Throw in a little home sickness and an encounter with a bat flapping around the upstairs bedroom and Daniel was quite eager to come home.

During that trip, he called us every night. We planned to pick him up on the weekend, but if he could have, he would have talked us into making the trip much sooner. Don’t get me wrong, he loves his grandmother but at the time, there were no other kids around.

This time would be different, though. His cousin, Ellie, would be along and he was prepared. He packed all of electronic chargers, took along some sketching materials and his cell phone.

I was worried it would be a repeat of the first trip, but I was wrong. It wasn’t Daniel who was homesick, it was me missing him. He went a couple of days without calling, so I finally dialed up his number.

“Oh, hi Mom. Sorry I haven’t called, but I’ve been busy,” he told me. I had visions of him at 18 standing in his dorm room saying those exact same words. At the same time, I pictured myself standing in his childhood room, wondering what my boy was doing, if he was safe, if he was making new friends and if he was studying. It dawned on me that this was how it would feel when he moved out for college.

That thought nagged me all week. I had great plans for that spring break. I took several days of vacation, and had planned to spend it with Daniel. Then Grandma suggested the trip to Missouri and plans changed.

I did manage to get some projects done around the house. I did a little spring cleaning and whittled down the mountain of laundry that had accumulated. I walked the dogs and spent some time with my dad.

When the weekend finally arrived, the threat of nearly a foot of snow headed for St. Louis prompted us to move our trip up by a day. We made arrangements to meet at a halfway point and brought our young man home.

Daniel spent part of the trip home recounting all the fun activities from his stay with Grandma. They had been to a science center and watched a movie at the IMAX theater. They went swimming at a local rec center and Daniel had some time with his Aunt Ruth.

I’m glad that he had a great time and had no problems on this trip. He’s matured a lot since the last time and it’s wonderful to see the young man he’s becoming. He’ll be ready when the time comes to strike out on his own.

I hope I’m ready to when that time comes.