My freshman son, the eldest of two, recently returned to college for his second semester —700 miles away. It’s no easier to let him go the second time. This is a terrible system: We put all that time, sweat, love, and anxiety into raising them, and as it’s fully paying off, when they are easy and interesting and such good company, they go away. To put it as plainly as possible, it sucks.
To distract myself, I’ve made an effort to notice the positives of having a half empty nest. It began in September, when I realized I had half as many school forms to complete, and I could see the surface of our dining room table. Keeping a list of these benefits seems like a healthy approach to get over the loss.
25 Reminders for Why You Shouldn’t Miss Your Freshman Son
1. We only have to clear ¾ of the kitchen table for dinner.
2. The wireless works a little better.
3. Phone and computer chargers don’t disappear as regularly.
4. There’s been a significant drop in water bills.
5. Our auto insurance costs nearly half as much.
6. There are 40% fewer shoes and boots to trip over in our kitchen entry.
7. There are fewer school functions to bake for.
8. No one draws cartoon penises on the steamed-up bathroom mirror.*
9. We’re much less likely to exceed our wireless data limit.
10. That odd odor—a combination of sweat, and stale cologne, and God knows what else—has lifted from his room.
11. Entire boxes of cookies don’t disappear in an evening.
12. We spend less time hunting for the TV remotes.
13. No one throws balled-up socks at my head.
14. The migration of dishes around the house has slowed.
15. I’m less likely to hear the phrases “Mom, where is….” and “mom, did you…” and “mom, why didn’t you…”
16. I feel slightly less guilty when I don’t manage to make anything for dinner.
17. No one absently puts on my shoes and walks away leaving me to hunt for them hours later.
18. Car use negotiations have ceased.
19. I rarely have to worry about him driving in snow and ice.
20. I am less often the subject of Snapchat photos.
21. I have fewer concerns about where he is and what he’s doing because I rarely know where he is and what he’s doing.
22. We have a guest room—not that we have any guests.
23. He and his little brother have perfected the art of making faces at each other via Snapchat.
24. I have actual long interesting phone conversations with him.
25. I’m only failing to remember the needs of one kid rather than two.
So all in all, when I look at the big picture, put it all into this perspective and focus on the bright side, it still really sucks.
*Full disclosure, I think the cartoon penises are adorable.
Megan Rubiner Zinn is a writer based in Northampton, MA. She is the author of Our Precious Pooper: A Brutally Honest Journal of Baby’s First Few Years, and her work has appeared in the New York Times Motherlode blog, Dame, Salon, and Jezebel. Megan also blogs at life in the little city and dabbles in history on Twitter: @HistoryOnWry. She is still recovering from the first college drop off.