Consider yourself warned!
A guide for those who think they want children.
May 1st. Decision Day. The designated day for high school seniors to commit to their college of choice. Last year, my son committed to Syracuse University. This year is my daughter’s turn to choose which college to attend. She had a few good options to choose from: The University of San Francisco, The University of South Carolina, Penn State, Spelman College (my choice), Jacksonville University, and Binghamton University (her father’s choice). Her choice … The University of South Carolina! So, come August, assuming that the colleges are letting students return to campus, I will be an empty nester.
When I was pregnant with my son, people at my job gave me free, unsolicited advice all the time. I listened to everyone. One piece of advice that someone gave me was to make sure that I had a life independent of my kids because one day they will leave home. I don’t know why, but I always remembered that advice. So, even while the kids were little, I made sure to maintain my friendships. During my mommy journey, I made new friends at school functions, basketball games, swimming class, hapkido class, and dancing school. I am still friends with some of those moms today. As the kids grew older, I joined the Single Moms Ministry, the choir, and the drama ministry at my church. I took voice acting classes. I took a screenwriting class. I started running. I ran the NYC marathon last year. My point is this, I made sure to explore things that were of interest to me and to not live solely for my kids.
Now that both kids will soon be away at school, people ask me what am I going to do. Well, I’ve been preparing myself for this moment since they were little. When I leave my daughter in South Carolina, I will most likely cry. After all, she is my baby, the last one to leave home. But, after I stop crying. I will drive myself back to Brooklyn, text my girlfriends, and if its not too late, go out for happy hour to celebrate the accomplishments of both my kids!
Part of me is looking forward to having the house to myself. When I buy food, it will still be in the refrigerator when I get home. Things will be where I left them. When I’m watching tv, I won’t have to compete with my son’s tv or his loud telephone conversations. When I come home from work, there won’t be dirty dishes in the sink (a pet peeve of mine). I won’t have to cook for these kids anymore. Thank you meal plan!
Of course, I will still miss my kids. I will wonder what they are doing. Are they ok? Do they miss me? I will call them every now and again to make sure that they are doing well and that they are eating enough and getting enough rest (I’m still their mother). But, I will also give them space so that they can have the freedom to explore, grow, and mature.
So, what will I be doing when my kids leave for college and my nest is empty? Who knows? The sky’s the limit. But what I won’t be doing is sitting at home crying because my kids aren’t there.
Parents of young kids heed my coworker’s advice, don’t make your kids the center of your life. Make sure you maintain friendships and develop your own interests. If you don’t, you will be miserable once your kids leave home.
So, now you know, and you can … Consider Yourself Warned!
If you are an empty nester, what are some of the things you’ve been up to?
Right before this pandemic started, my daughter asked me if she could have a pet rabbit. After many years of asking me for a dog, I finally gave in. In both our minds, we envisioned a small, cute, little rabbit that would fit in a little cage in the corner of her room. Once I said yes, my daughter got online and researched what we would need for the rabbit. She also found a local animal shelter to “rescue” a rabbit. So, after getting rabbit supplies, we went to the animal shelter.
Now, you would think that it would be easy to adopt an animal from a shelter, right? Well, the first day we went to the animal shelter, we were stopped at the front door. The shelter was closing so we were told to come back the next day. The next day, we were told we needed an appointment. The following day, we show up at the appointed time, only to be told that we had to read the course material and pass a test before we would be able to adopt a rabbit. The worker also informed us that the cage we purchased was too small and that the rabbit needed at least a four-foot space to live in. We were sent our way with a packet of study materials and told to make another appointment once we felt we were ready to pass the test. By this time, I’m pissed because they could have told us all that the day before, and my daughter is sad and disappointed. She decided that she didn’t want to be bothered because the lady left such a bad impression on her.
Now, I’m not an animal person at all. But, I do feel sad for my daughter. She looked so heartbroken. On the ride home, I started having an internal conversation with myself. What should I do? I know she really wants a dog, but I don’t want to be bothered. Cats are supposed to be low maintenance, but she is allergic to cats. Maybe she’s outgrown her allergies. After that inner struggle, I finally suggest that we get a cat. She immediately perks up. Really? She asks. Begrudgedly I say yes. Later, we went back to Petco and exchanged the rabbit supplies for cat supplies (which cost more). The clerk told us to look for a cat on Petfinder.com. My daughter did and low and behold a few days later, we were on our way to pick up a cat.
Remember, I am not an animal person. But I have to tell you, this little cat was soooooo adorable. Her name was Chebe. Chebe was about a year and half and shy. The foster cat mom had lots of cats. Some much more friendly than Chebe, but they were also a lot furrier. Since I was worried about my daughter’s allergies, I chose little Chebe. So, after the cat foster mom put Chebe in the carrier, we were on our way home.
Let me tell you, Chebe meow-cried the whole car ride home. My daughter and I almost cried with her. My daughter felt so bad for the cat that she was ready to take her back. Honestly, I was ready to take her back too, but I told my daughter that once Chebe got used to us, it would be better. Well, let me tell you, I don’t think Chebe wanted to get used to use to us. She wanted to go home! My daughter had made a space for the cat in her room, so when we got home, we put Chebe’s carrier on the floor in her room. Chebe stayed in there for hours. She would not come out for anything. That night, that poor cat meow-cried all night long. And I mean, ALL NIGHT LONG! It was so bad; my daughter left her room to come sleep with me. She wanted to return her back. I tried to reassure her that the cat had to get used to us. Afterall, it was only the first night. Meanwhile, I silently started praying for the poor thing. I asked God to let Chebe know that we weren’t bad people and that we just wanted to love her. If God answered my prayer and relayed my message, Chebe was NOT listening. I don’t think she ever stopped meow crying that night. The next day we put her in my office where there’s more room and more things for her to climb on. Whenever I worked in my office, she would give me a look that seemed to say, “Yo, what are you doing here? Don’t even think about talking and disturbing me lady. I don’t want to hear it. I’m good right here in my corner, by myself.” And, that was if she was actually chilling in her corner. As my son said, “Chebe was an expert at hiding.” Let me tell you, that cat could find the tightest space to hid in. Sometimes, it would take us a while to find her.
Eventually, my daughter’s allergies started acting up to the point that she needed to take allergy medicine. After another internal conversation with myself, I suggested to my kids that we give the cat back (it had only been a week). I told them that we could get a dog instead. They were both so happy about getting a dog that they couldn’t get rid of poor Chebe fast enough. I on the other hand, was actually a little sad to see her go. So, little Chebe went back home to her foster cat family, and when things get better, we are going to get a dog. But I must say, when I go to my office, I still look in Chebe’s corner to see if she’s there. I miss that cute little cat. You know, maybe having a pet isn’t so bad after all.
So, now you know, and you can … Consider Yourself Warned!
Parents, what do you feel about getting pets for your kids?
SassyGirlTye lives with her two wonderful teenagers in Brooklyn, New York. No matter what she says in her posts, she truly loves her children with all her heart.