by Judy Gruen
“So how’s the empty nest?” my neighbor June asked when we nearly bumped shopping carts at the market.
“How would I know?” I shrugged. “The married ones live in the neighborhood and pop over all the time, often when they’re hungry and their wives aren’t around. Our granddaughters are brought over a few times a week to play, riffle through all the cereals in the pantry, play with my bracelet collection, dump toys out on the living room floor, and then go home. Each kid’s room is still filled with so many of their own clothes, books and belongings I’m not sure what they wear or can possibly have in their apartments.”
My neighbor raised her eyebrows. “So I guess you’re not getting much more writing done now than when they were at home?”
I threw my head back and chortled in a manner I hoped was wryly amusing. “Hardly! They also text, email and call, usually during dinner. In desperation I announced that I was turning off my phone during set work hours, but they just emailed or waited at the door. Honestly, I got more done when they were teenagers and totally ignored me. Now they’re adults and realize that I actually know something, and they want in on my hard-won wisdom. The only way I’ll get an empty nest anytime soon is if I run away to a cabin in the mountains.”
“There must be an app for this,” she said. “I guess it’s nice to know that you’re still wanted,” she said.
“Oh, it is,” I answered, tossing a few extra boxes of cereal in the cart for the grandkids to eat and spill. “I don’t mean to complain. . . .it’s just, this so-called empty nest isn’t anything like I thought it would be, namely, empty. Now I understand why the most prolific writers in history were either men or childless women. There’s no retirement from Mom-dom.”
“And your husband probably wants some attention too,” she said, as we headed together amiably toward the produce section.
“Don’t get me started,” I said, demonstrating admirable restraint by not grabbing a box of Entenmann’s Danish but remembering that my husband likes Dijon mustard and we were all out. “I’m grateful to have kids who still need me, and provide so much material to write about. Now if only I could find the time to write it all down!”
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