Why I want time travel: The view from the empty nest
At the library this week, I glimpsed a book title: “I Just Want to Pee Alone”—a book associated with the I Just Want to Pee Alone blog.
I remember the “inescapable” feeling that came with that phase of parenting. Peace was not to be found. Chubby toddlers nudged bathroom doors wide open (regardless of who might be around to catch glimpses of Yours Truly with pants down, literally). They staked claim to a mother they knew to be indisputably, relentlessly available.
Yeah, that wasn’t so much fun all the time back then, and I don’t want to live through the whole lo-o-o-ong phase again, but I’d like to time-travel there—ever so briefly—to smile at the guileless face of my children as they stand in the bathroom door wondering why I would ever want to close it to them anyway?
The title of the book caught my attention because I am at the other end of the parenting spectrum. I was an indispensable presence to my toddler children, but now I have a disquieting feeling of being declared surplus. My son left home to go to university this week, and I am now a resident of a quiet empty nest. “I’m all grown up,” my son said to me this week—once or twice, or ten times.
It is a strange feeling to arrive at this point in the journey. After all, I’ve known all along this would be the desired destination. When my husband and I stepped on board the parenting train all those years ago, we didn’t say “Let’s have kids and they will stay with us FOREVER.” We said, “Let’s have kids and do our best not to mess up, so they will prosper and go out and lead productive lives and make the world a better place.” Or something like that.
Done. Check that box. Mistakes made along the way, for sure, but none so catastrophic as to derail the train.
I’m so happy for him, because he’s happy. He’s playing baseball at his new university, and he’s made friends on the team already. He’s busy, settled in and having fun. I celebrate this new beginning for him, and I celebrate that we had such a fun journey getting this far. I don’t want to stop the train or reverse it on the track.
But time travel would be handy for me about now, because the truth is I want the best of both worlds. I want his train to keep on chugging forward into whatever his future holds, but I wouldn’t mind—ever so briefly—popping back to a time when my chubby little boy crawled up on my lap and nestled his head under my chin.