We dropped Odd Number off at Boise State University last week, initiating a new era in family life. So far, that era is distinguished by the number of times people have asked us about ENS, or Empty Nest Syndrome.
Nothing that ends with Syndrome is ever good, so naturally I’m resistant to the phrase. If our house is indeed a nest, Iron Chef and I are still in it, as is our cat — the Worst Hippopotamus. Not to mention the fact that Her Royal Highness (now a college junior) uses the nest as a combination flophouse/storage shed in between her wilderness river trips. That behavior actually does feel like a syndrome.
Empty Nest or no, there is no doubt that having both kids in college will create a new dynamic. On one of the rare occasions this summer when all four of us sat down to dinner, the conversation was lively and fun. Odd soon peeled off to carouse with his friends, and it didn’t take Her Highness long to get a better offer, so they excused themselves and left us alone on the deck. Chef looked at me with what one might perceive as terror, and said, “What now?”
We both laughed hysterically after he said it, like you do before you ride one of those rides at the amusement park that simulates an elevator falling 40 floors.
I’m mostly nervous because I’ve been using the children as human shields from some basic responsibilities. Like, “I’m sure I’ll dust more when I don’t have all this child rearing to do.” It’s been 4 days since we left Odd Number in southern Idaho and this now feels like a lie.
But maybe I really will be more thoughtful about birthdays, and clipping the cat’s nails, and not abandoning my blog for months on end. What now? Let’s just wait and see.