Thursday, October 23, 2014

Empty Nest November Activity Challenge: Adopt a Team.

When the kids leave the nest, we miss the rituals, the traditions we built around them. For some, this is smiley face pancakes on Saturday mornings. Wednesday night pizza after band practice. Or maybe, for the clinically insane, helping with homework. What I feel most sharply is the loss of being a spectator, of cheering on a team.

Those brisk days spent on canvas chairs or rickety metal bleachers represent my favorite kind of parenting -- being present, being loud, having plenty of snacks available. Seriously, what's not to love about that?

Since none of my kids will be playing a sport in college, I'm starting to find myself with an abundance, a complete overflow, of freaking cheer. It pours out of me when I pass a little league ball field, the way breast milk used to rise up when I saw a baby. What will I do with this? Where are the over 40 cheerleading squads, people, and when are the tryouts?

Last week, a friend invited me and my husband to watch a women's college volleyball team play my eldest daughter's alma mater. "You can cheer on your daughter's behalf," she said, knowing she was spending the semester abroad.

I was under the weather, and we couldn't go, but I told my husband that's what we need to do. Find another amateur team, in another sport, and support them. There are dozens of colleges in the area -- we'll find one this year, and adopt them.

"I think it should be a men's team," I add. "Possibly soccer."

"But you miss watching our daughters," he replies.

"But the men are um, more, uh . . . faster, and more accomplished."

"But the women are underfunded and need more support."

"The men wear shorts."

He sighs. We are at a standstill. And in the meantime, I contemplate my friends with younger children still playing on teams. Which one do we feel like embarrassing? And who needs orange slices and Vitamin water?

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Nest Empties. The Phone Rings.

I realized yesterday how seldom the phone rings. How we jump now, just a little, when it does. Is this the urgency people felt when it was first invented? Perhaps.

For me, losing both of my parents in the last few years took the shrill edge off that ringing phone. The fear of it breaking the stillness of the night. The worst has already happened. The calls have already come. And the children were home or accounted for, tucked in.

But just when you feel that sense of relaxation and release -- someone leaves. Someone travels. There is always someone to worry over, now, again. And bad news never comes in a text. (Unless you're fifteen.)

People shake their heads and wonder over women who keep having more children. But this is why, I think. This is why. So they can stave off being alone with a ringing phone.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Empty Nest October Activity Challenge: Denied.

The next plan was for both of us to try a new sport that we both agreed upon. We settled for Stand Up Paddleboarding. I had already rejected Surfing and Ultimate Frisbee as Things He Would Be Good At That I Would Suck At. And the look on his face when I suggested Aerial Yoga was PRICELESS. So SUP it was, and serendipitously, his brother had bought a board and left it at the family vacation house for all to enjoy, thus eliminating Husband Obstacle Number One: Rental Rip-Offs.

But nature had other plans, and neither one of us could motivate to try this in the cold and rain.

So instead, I taught him to knit. Just kidding, haha! But he did drive me to the knitting store in the rain, and then helped me ball the yarn. As he patiently unwrapped
it around his wrists, he said, "This is just like untangling fishing line."

And you know what that means? That means some afternoon while the striped bass is marinating, I can help him untangle his fishing line.