Empty Nest Syndrome Must Be an Urban Legend

They claim that mothers feel this void in their lives when the kids graduate and move away from home; as though there is something missing or like they forgot something on the stove halfway on that road trip from Cincinnati to Montreal.  Many a woman has taken on book clubs, bridge clubs, gardening clubs, sewing clubs, golf clubs, and heavy afternoon drinking to help fill that void that is left when their children move away and they have fewer people to care for than their spouses and/or themselves.  But I think that is just Hollywood talking.


I could handle only doing two loads of laundry every four days as opposed to four loads every day.  And I’d like to not have to wake up to the alarm clock at 5:50 in the morning…and walk all the way to the opposite side of the house in the dark and tripping over shit in order to turn it off while the alarm setter slumbers through the blaring submarine alert sounds going off 3.9 inches from his head.  I’d like to only fill my gas tank once every two weeks or less and not have to grunt and groan while I force my legs to straighten upon getting out of the car after three and half hours of driving various carpools and errands.  I want be able to afford to have this Sam Elliot-esque mustache threaded off my lip more frequently than once every six to eight months.

But these are my pipe dreams.  And, for me, Empty Nest Syndrome is one of those things like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.

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For the Record…

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about simplifying things in my life. I am not certain that I’ll be able to pull that off. My life is a giant ball of confusion and complication. Much like your life. Probably.

But I am trying to start with things like my blogs. While I still feel like a square peg in a round hole, I’m starting to see how either my edges are starting to smooth out or the roundness of the the hole is starting to edge. Regardless, I’m fitting just a touch better.

I started this blog years ago while living in Egypt. It served its purpose well. This was the place I could rant and scream and laugh and admire and criticize and enjoy in English and share my thoughts, mostly, with my American world that I’d left behind. And that was great through the latter part of my 30’s.

But then I started to work on issues of ME. I know, right? It’s always “all about me,” isn’t it?  I took a challenge directed by Brittany Gibbons (aka The Barefoot Foodie aka Brittany, Herself aka author of the book FAT GIRL WALKING) and I started writing about me and my feelings as they relate to body-image issues, bullying, self-esteem, etc. I started to address familial issues that had been boxed up and shoved into the very back of the storage unit of my soul. I wasn’t sure if I wanted family members that I was grudging against to be able to read those words and know that they had hurt me; that they had had a negative impact on how I viewed myself. So I started another blog called The Deep Down. (Because I’m a dork who thinks herself clever and I figured that that’s where those feelings were coming from….the deep down part of my heart.

At any rate, somewhere along the line I decided that this is ME. THIS is who I am. All of those issues of good, bad, ugly, fat, funny, terrifying, traumatic, dangerous, beautiful, kind, and mean are a part of who I am today. And the truth of the matter is that I like me. In fact, I love me and if I could have an out-of-body-experience, I’d so take me home for a roll in the hay. OH, YEAH!

A lot of that has to do with the fact that I’m 47. When you reach this age, you’re so done worrying about the opinions of others that you just tend to relax in your own skin. I enjoy life. Am I overweight? Yeah. By a lot. And I have high cholesterol. BFD. I had high cholesterol back when I was 17 and running 10 miles everyday. Sometimes that shit is actually hereditary. All my other health numbers are fantastic and if you look at my complete heart work up, I’ve got the ticker of someone 10 years younger. I am working on getting a lower number on that scale and cholesterol reading….but it’s not going to sadden me if it takes a long time or doesn’t happen at all. Those are 2 of about eleventy-million things that make up ME. I’m past numbers making or breaking my outlook on life.

I’m also past a few other things. I don’t need to hide my feelings or hurts or thoughts or opinions from anyone anymore. And since I’m not actually a square peg in that round hole anymore, I’ve decided to take this Nikki-shaped peg and place it into the Nikki-shaped hole. I fit with me. Wherever I am, whatever I believe or feel, no matter what number is on the scale.

So, dear followers, I’ve already moved all of the posts from SquarerPegsRounderholesdotcom.wordpress.com over to thedeepdown.wordpress.com . And I invite you to migrate over there and follow me there. Thank you, both of you, for following me here all these years. Hope you enjoy my new-ish site, too. I need the simplicity of having it all in one place. Thanks.

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October Anniversaries

Last week, my husband and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. Wow. It seems like such a huge accomplishment on the one hand. On the other, the older we get the more time seems to just fly by. So really, making our marriage work this long has not been more difficult than just remembering to breathe, choosing the battles that we should fight, and doing kind stuff for each other along the way. Not really. Sometimes it’s hard. Really hard.
But more often than not, it isn’t.

It’s not an effortless relationship. I mean, if I end up at Home Depot one more time on “date day,” I may end up screaming and ripping my own hair out. And while I don’t find the smell of freshly cut plywood or new power tools a turn-on, I’m fairly certain that he doesn’t like waiting around until 8:00 pm to eat dinner because I can’t make the physics on our oven work any faster on half-frozen chicken that I forgot to take out of the freezer a few hours earlier. He’s a neat freak. I’m a sloppy person who files things horizontally.

So last Wednesday, our daughter decided she wanted THE most obscure Sesame Street character plush toy. I believe her exact words were, “IT’S AN EMERGENCY!” I went to two different toy stores in the mall in search of Zoe. No joy. So I decided to go to Walmart. As I went through the home furnishings section, I noticed that they had the Kitchen Aid mixers on sale for $189! So I snapped a photo with my phone and texted it over to my husband because he has been wanting one of these for almost as long as I have. (He’s a pastry chef.)  I found no Zoe in the toy section and then went home and ordered the Zoe online from the Children’s Television Workshop.

That night my husband placed a box on the counter in the kitchen when he got home from work. It was the Mother of All Gifts for Those Who Bake. It was the Kitchen Aid Mixer. He kissed me on the cheek and said, “Happy anniversary. You texted me the picture so I assumed you wanted it.” I told him, “Uhm, YEAH….but totally not why I sent it to you. I figured we’d just talk about buying it and then end up buying new brakes for the van instead.”

A week later was my 18th celebration of my 29th birthday. My friends, Roslyn and Marcella, gave me gift cards. I love them both. So I let my husband spend about half of the card for Bed, Bath & Beyond. He had so much fun. He made a beeline for the wall clocks and chose one with coffee beans in it. (I tease him a lot about wanting a wall clock in every room of the house. He makes fun of me for buying area rugs every chance I get.)

I am so fortunate to have been blessed with my husband. He loves me to the moon and back and I adore him. I get him. He gets me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Time to Get New Prescription for Glasses

There’s a difference between 15 October and 5 October when you have an appointment with a government agency. It’s 10 days, apparently.

Back to the bottom of the waiting list.

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Out of Sight Out of Mind (aka Adventures in Homemaking)

Three days in a row, I’ve gone to the half bath in the girls’ room to use the toilet and each time SURPRISE! just an empty cardboard tube where the toilet paper should be. Does this bother me? Of course. I am actually thinking of employing a BYOTP policy in this house. Does it bother me as much as it does you? Probably not. See, you’re probably thinking, “EWWW! Gross. They don’t use toilet paper.” But it’s not so gross as it is WET. We bought these bidet attachments at Home Depot and hooked them up to the toilets in our house a couple of years ago. (This is not a new idea throughout the Middle East or in Japan.) It’s what we’ve used since forever ago. They’re relatively cheap and very easy to install. We go through far less toilet paper than the average American family, have fewer “skid marks” in underwear, fewer complaints of hemorrhoids, and we rarely have clogged sewage lines due to TP blockage. (It’s usually hair in the tub drain.)

At any rate, I still don’t appreciate having Taylor Swift added to my LIFE’S SOUNDTRACK although that IS what pops into my head and I always giggle to think that this would make an interesting, albeit less-than-family-viewing rated video addition on the music channels. But because the ginormous econo-pak of 48 rolls of 700 2-ply sheets of toilet paper (that we basically use to dry off with following the washing) is in the hallway closet. I know, how inconvenient. I keep 3-4 rolls under the sink in each bathroom but once those are gone, no one ever restocks them. And I, for the last 3 days while embracing my short attention span, have neglected to do the same. TODAY, I forced myself to “hold it” while I grabbed 4 rolls and stocked under the sinks.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is NOT a great philosophy to have when you need visual prompts like I do. We’ve had to spend Thanksgiving weekend in the dark because my husband hates clutter and he grabbed all the “still need to be paid bills” and threw them into a shopping sack and shoved said sack into that tiny cupboard above the refrigerator so that he didn’t have to look at the cluttered papers stacked on the counter in the kitchen. A) Don’t see it. Don’t pay it. 2) We had an electric stove at the time. Coldcut sandwiches for Thanksgiving was a new one for me. And lastly) I’m 5′ 3″. I didn’t even know we HAD cupboards above the refrigerator.

I AM patting myself on the back today though. I am all caught up on the kitchen. I had done the dishes last night. However, the 20-year old college student was up late doing homework. So I woke up to a sinkful of dishes and glasses all over the counter tops. But I washed them all up. I even cleaned out the inside of that tiny microwave I keep hidden in the laundry room because I’m afraid of it. (Intellectually, I know it’s not going to “get me all radioactived up” but still. One can never be too safe. Plus it hogs up all my counter space and I’m NOT getting rid of my coffee pot.)

And then I decided to empty all the plastic ware (read: petri dishes) that were taking up all of the room in my refrigerator. With as many teens with bionic metabolisms as I have, we rarely have leftovers. Occasionally, I’ll overshoot when projecting how much of something we need at dinner. But usually the only thing we have leftovers of is rice. I dumped about 6 of those fancy storage containers into the trash today and realized that I DON’T actually need to buy more plastic bowls with lids. I just need to make less rice at dinner. I washed up the bowls and lids and now I feel so accomplished. (NO. I didn’t wipe down the refrigerator shelves. I have to leave SOMETHING for the punishment of the smartmouths or as a way to earn money for when my youngest complains about being too young to have a job and can I reconsider giving him an allowance.)

Also, I’ve managed to free myself up today to do fun volunteering stuff at the school because either the laws of physics are no longer working in my oven or I just waited too long to take the chicken out of the freezer yesterday. I cook chicken and potatoes in a deep dish pan covered in foil ALL THE TIME and it’s never taken longer than 1.5 hours at 350 degrees. EVER. Last night, 2.5 hours. My husband had a friend over helping him with some electrical work. I was SOOOOOO embarrassed that it was 8:30 and not only was the chicken still bleeding but it was SQUAWKING. I made a quick executive decision, threw some pasta on to boil, fried up some turkey bacon, mushrooms, onions, and a jalepeno pepper, dumped some seasonings, canned tomatoes and a little tomato paste in there and served it over the noodles with some shredded mozzarella and a side order of broccoli.
I call it “Pasta a la Whatever-the-hell-I-found-in-the-fridge-besides-old-rice-in-plastic-containers.” It was a hit. And I don’t have to cook today because I’m just heating up the finally done chicken (and fresh rice) that I made last night.

Silver linings, people. Silver linings.

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Choosing the Happy

Daily we see those bumper stickers and motivational posters that encourage you to “Choose the Happy” and we usually roll our eyes and think, “Pfffft….yeah, right.” But the more I think about it, the more I realize that ultimately happiness truly is a choice. Whatever your situation, health, schedule, pain level, payscale, you-name-it:  You can CHOOSE to be happy.

Every morning before I put my daughter on the school bus, I remind her to “make good choices.” I’m sure that she just hears this the same as she hears “have a good day” and “don’t forget your backpack.” But today I told her to “choose the happy, Randa,” and she smiled at me and replied, “Yes, choose happy.” The message must have clicked because it’s already 11:30 a.m. and I haven’t received a phone call from the Alternate Curriculum staff at her high school informing me of any Autistic Meltdowns. Yay, me. Yay, her.

Anyway, I’m continuing to choose the happy. Because if I wait for happiness to choose me, I’m gonna be collecting my social security checks by the time it arrives and….well, maybe not. I may not be happy with the size of that check or whether or not there’s any social security left for people in my age bracket…but I can still choose to be happy. No matter what, it’s always a choice.

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Stupid Progress!

It used to be, not terribly long ago, that when one had simple or even complex issues with their American-made vehicles, all she would have to do was go to her local auto parts store and buy the replacement part and swap it out. But now, a bad brake light bulb isn’t fixable with just a new brake light bulb. Apparently, even something so simple as this or switching out a dead battery for a new one requires a trip to the dealership….as suggested by the car owner’s manual.

Well played, GM. Well played.

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