Vacant Sty

A seagull wandered into my parents’ backyard on Tuesday. It couldn’t fly away; it was stuck with a fishing lure and tangled in the line. Wildlife control advised that seagulls are docile and suggested we wrap it in a blanket, put it in a box and drive it to the animal hospital. I stated firmly that they could come and get it. They did.

Birds terrify me so I hate the term “empty nest”.  Warm, loving and cuddly are not adjectives that spring to mind when I think of birds. They find worms, drop them down their babies’ gullets and then push them out of a tree.

But pigs I like. Rooting around in the mud. Snuggling together for warmth. Fighting together against the big bad wolf. That’s a family to me.

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I’ve got a vacant sty. Or a sty that functions like Airbnb. My kids come. My kids go. They borrow cars, ask for advice (when they want it) and crack me up with stories about their adult lives. The ones they want to tell me. I feed them – sometimes – and give them clean towels.

My advice to all of the forlorn moms out there? Get over it. When you begin to get sad about little Janey going off to UMass or Johnny heading to Pitt, think about a. not having to go to parent teacher conferences anymore, b. not staying up till 2 a.m. waiting for them to get home, c. not tripping over 8 pairs of shoes left in the front hallway. I know one mom who admitted she checks her kid’s bat caves (nostrils) for dried snot every morning before they head out the door. Tell me you’re going to miss doing that and I will recommend commitment proceedings.

Get out of your head, out of the house and out of your routine. Take yoga classes 2x a week. Eat cereal for dinner. Binge watch “Boy Meets World” on a rainy Saturday.

And travel. If you’re forking over gigantic tuition payments, you probably need to hold off on the 21-day Mediterranean cruise for now. But you can book a couple of nights in a B&B 4 hours’ from home and explore someplace new. Or take advantage of one of those $69 flight promos that have teased your inbox for years. You are released from your duties as sideline spectator and minivan chauffeur. Permit yourself to play. You’ve earned it.

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