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Leaving, Cleaving and the Twilight Zone

Bonnie is my oldest daughter. She turns 29 this week. She and her husband have been stationed in Sicily the last two and a half years. Thanks to Obama – for whom I nurture many well-rehearsed and aptly-aimed negative thoughts – Bonnie’s husband Jeff

In the meantime, while Jeff is completing his obligations to the US Navy, Bonnie, her 14-month old and eight-year old daughters, plus a huge, energetic German shepherd (did I

Mostly, I take it a day at a time, have deleted the month of May from my calendar in favor of babysitting; and marvel that things seem to be going better than expected. I have compiled a loose list of ongoing ruminations while adjusting to life with more of them and less of me; and enumerate them here:

Rumination Number 1: When one is in a fresh marriage (under five years old) one has inklings of stress and tiny spats if adult children and their children visit for a prolonged length of time. After all, one supposes he or she was marrying an empty-nested spouse. When one does not raise, or even know very well, one’s new spouse’s adult children, prolonged visits are sometimes challenging. Especially if the spouse in question has a home office. So it was a God-thing, really…that my husband’s company unexpectedly flew him to Denver for a new project. He is less stressed, I am less stressed, and my kids and I are able to enjoy conversation at varying decibel levels

Rumination Number 2: Relationships change between mother and adult child when they “come home again,” but not as much as one might think, really. Over a period of time, I can see the child in the woman and the woman in the child and it is quite an interesting juxtaposition. When things are going well, she is the woman-child. When disappointment, fear or stress escalates, she becomes the child-woman. Right now in the midst of international relocation

Fortunately, my ruminations have revealed personal progress in self-control and the ability to

Rumination Number 3: Without this situation, I would not have gotten to spend copious amounts of time with my granddaughters, which has been near-impossible with a Navy family. I love getting to know them and feeling them in my arms. And tripping over them in the kitchen. And giving up any thought of my personal schedule in preference of theirs.

Just kidding about that last part.

I do not wholeheartedly embrace the inconvenience my children and their families bring with them when they visit (extra cooking, extra picking up, extra shrieking and running around the house, changing poopy diapers…overly populated bathrooms…you get the idea) but lately these thoughtful meanderings (alert to those of you that did not look up “rumination,” the two previous words are the definition!) revealed that I had become


“Wifezilla comes to the forefront…”

But I am trying to put this stuff on the back burner while I make the choice to grandparent first and housekeep second. Since my husband is out of town, I do not have to deal with that pesky “wife” stuff. Nice timing, Lord. This, at least, keeps the occasional stirrings of “Wifezilla” mode at bay.

Wives, can you imagine a husband in the mix during this situation? Really? If so, maybe you are a better spouse than I am. Please feel free to give sanity maintenance suggestions, all you fellow pseudo-empty-nesters out there.

Rumination Number 4: A grown child may be a completely different person as an adult than the kid you raised. I know my daughter well and we talk on the phone often, but I have not seen her so up close and personal with her kids and a (big, and did I mention energetic?) dog as an experienced mother and wife. A new respect for her is burgeoning in my chest. “Burgeoning” is also a great word to know. You should look this one up too, if you are unacquainted with it.

However, respect is not the same as this attitude: “I want you and your kids to live with us forever! And the dog, too! And oh yes, the cat that I asked you not to bring because I felt it would push me over the edge! It wouldn’t, really, I know that now! So please, by all means, move in! Empty nesting is not all it’s cracked up to be!!”

Are there grandparents that have this attitude? If so, this is troubling. But back to the respect issue…

So what? She is amazing. I am amazing in my own way, too, of course. We are just not incredibly amazing for very long, together, in the same house, at this stage in our lives. In fact, I think to inadvertently resurrect the mother-daughter dependency thing after she has “left and cleft” as the Bible says; is to deconstruct some of our amazing-ness in the face of it. It will be reconstructed as time goes on, because we are trusting God to intervene when tempers are short. Our prayers are a little strained, but we know God understands.

My husband absolutely agrees with this, as he has witnessed my amazing-ness disintegrate right before his very eyes as I morphed into “Wifezilla” when my daily routine, housekeeping tasks and cooking avoidant behavior was blasted to smithereens three weeks ago. When his company asked him to be available to come to Denver, he scampered onto that flight nearly skipping toward departure with his bags, barely disguising his delight.

But I knew. I could see relief all over him. He smiled broadly as he waved good-bye at the departure gate. He never smiles broadly as he waves good-bye at the departure gate. He is usually kind of sad to leave me, actually.

In conclusion, this has been, and continues to be, a kind of a Twilight Zone experience. I have no time to do much of anything but be available to the baby and her sister; their mom, try to find time to play with the (big, energetic) dog, look for my cats who are a little freaked out and try to make sure they are eating and using the litter box instead of my carpet due to cat-stress; feed the baby, put the baby down for a nap, change the baby, meet her sister at the bus (if I remember) when she comes home from school, help her with homework, think about dinner (again?! We just cooked last night! Did I mention I do not like to cook?), and etc.

So the good thing about my ruminations is that I think I am coming to the end of my passive-aggressive, puny attempts at control because controlling everyone’s contentment level is impossible, and not my responsibility anyway. I am stating firm boundaries, simply and clearly communicated, when I feel “Momzilla” climbing out of my body and onto my back to shake her hairy fists and yell at someone. I am finding direct, kind communication strangles“Momzilla” into silence. I am also finding

I will do an internal system check at the end of the six weeks. There will be further ruminations, further realizations, and hopefully; growth in my own personal development. After all, I have two adult kids that are not even married yet. I hope that I remember all the stuff I am learning right now, for their sakes.

Note: I am so NOT going to have a big dog, ever.

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