Sunday, November 19, 2017
For some unknown reason, we had run out of clean bath towels in our bathroom. Actually, I do know the reason. All of the clean towels were folded and sitting on the counter in the basement laundry room because there are no longer children in the house that can, “Run down to the basement and get me a stack of clean towels.” So when Tom brought me a towel, I said, “Why are these towels better than our towels?” I know the reason for that too. When one of my sons left for college the first time around, I over-bought him towels to take to the dorm. They are really nice, Ralph Lauren towels from Marshalls. I know I could have just sent him to college with the old crappy towels from his bathroom, but what would the other mothers think? Besides, I never buy new towels. I have towels that were shower gifts from our wedding 25 years ago. They are tattered and have threads hanging off the sides. They’re those threads that are still attached to the towel at two ends and hook on your baby toe when you are trying to dry your feet and legs; almost launching you head first into the bathroom counter. Towels just don’t seem to be a purchase priority. Like sheets, they are expensive, and we already have some even if they are thin and worn. A friend of mine once told me a story of her daughter going to a friend’s for a sleep over. When she came home she told her mom about how much she liked their towels.
“What’s so great about their towels?” she asked her daughter.
“They’re absorbent,” was the response.
So I’m not the only one who doesn’t buy towels. Actually, I’m one of the lucky ones. When we built our first house my mother-in-law arrived with stacks of brand new towels and washcloths to color-coordinate with the freshly painted walls. And when we built our current house, I splurged on towels to match our master bathroom, handing down the older towels to the kids for their bathroom. But twelve years later, we have those towels and the ones from our wedding. So when the nest emptied, I put the extra “really nice” towels in what has now become the guest bathroom. When Tom brought me that luxurious towel, I thought to myself, “Why aren’t we using these? We never have guests anyway!” So it took me less than a day to haul the next-to-oldest towels up from the basement and into the guest bathroom while I loaded our bathroom shelf up with fluffy, soft, absorbent towels. Considering that we now have really old, old, partially old, and fairly new towels, you can assume that I will never run out of clean towels in the bathroom again. Unless of course, there is nobody here to bring them up from the laundry room.
Sunday, October 8, 2017
And so the nest is empty. Everyone who has been through it says it’s hard at first, but “You’ll adjust.” I thought about writing this column earlier in the summer, but decided that I wanted to have the full effect. All the feelings. I think that life prepares you for the day that your kids will finally leave home and go live off on their own. Slowly you begin to get a feel for what it will be like when the kids are gone. It’s in small doses, but the small doses get more frequent and for longer periods of time.
The summer camps.
The weeks at Grandma’s.
The summer jobs.
And let’s not forget the attitudes and the moods. Those attitudes and moods are also what prepare you to think to yourself “OK. I don’t think there really is an empty nest syndrome because I’m going to love it!” I once asked a friend about how he was doing when his son left for college. “It was time for him to go,” was the firm but humorous response. We sort of got to ease our way into the empty nest. Our older son took his time, saved some money, and moved out into his own place this past June. Our younger son left for college, came back, and left again. Only this time it’s somehow different. Last time his older brother was still here to soften the blow. And he was only an hour away, making frequent returns during ski season. This time the brother is gone and the college is farther. The next time we see him could possibly be Thanksgiving. We’ve been cushioning this departure with our variety of pets and livestock in the form of 1 dog, 2 cats, and 6 chickens.
“Pretty soon it’s going to be just you, me, and all of these animals,” I said to Tom.
“And thank God for all the animals,” was his reply.
It was funny when he said it, but now the house is quiet. Nobody will be home “later.” Nobody has to call to let us know if he’s staying the night somewhere else. I’m buying fewer groceries and doing less laundry. There are less dirty socks and half empty glasses to pick up. Bedrooms are cleaned out and ready for paint. We should be joyous at this new stage in our lives, but we are sad. Sometimes I wish I had had a few more kids because I’m not ready to be an empty-nester. I like the “HI Mom’s” and “What’s to eat around here; I’m starving!” For the last 2 months I didn’t yell about the pile of dropped clothes at the end of the hallway by the kitchen because I knew that pretty soon that pile wouldn’t be there anymore. Today is that day. The pile is gone. The nest is empty. It’s just Tom and me and all of these animals. But I’m pretty sure we’ll adjust.
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
And all I got from him was “Seems like forever!” I had been thinking about it for several weeks. I had high hopes for our silver anniversary. I remember my mom and dad’s 25th. I insisted on a party with their closest friends, had them get their portrait taken, and put it in the newspaper like other couples did on their 25th, 50th, and beyond, anniversaries. I wanted to make sure ours was special too. I like to think that a 25th anniversary is kind of a big deal. We started out with grand plans for a week-long boat trip to the North Channel, the vacation spot of Tom’s childhood that I have heard about for 25 years. But as the date got closer, we realized that wasn’t going to be a reality so we planned a motorcycle trip for a weekend in the U.P. A few weeks before our trip, Tom hinted at his anniversary present to me. That he had “knocked it out of the park.” Since he is usually pretty elusive about his gifts, the fact that he was hinting around made me realize how excited he was about it. The day before our trip he revealed his surprise- he had not only found the hotel we spent our wedding night in, but he booked the very room, which was waterfront, overlooking Mackinac Island, for the first night of our trip. I was so moved by this gesture that I got a little tearful. So imagine my true surprise when we arrived in St. Ignace and not only did they not have our special room reserved, but they didn’t have a reservation for us at all. The only thing they had was a “Sorry, but we can get you in a room (not “that” room) tomorrow night.” Tomorrow night wasn’t an option. Tom looked absolutely defeated as he watched his gift crash and burn. “It’s OK,” I said, “Let’s just see if we can find something somewhere else.” Luckily, we found a room down the street. It wasn’t overlooking Mackinac Island, but the Starline Ferry parking lot and we didn’t awaken to lapping waves, but to 80’s music blaring from the parking lot speakers. Despite the disappointing start to our 25th anniversary weekend, we made the most of it and enjoyed our time together. That weekend gave us a memory we can look back on fondly and even laugh a little. Because 25 years is powering through the tough times and disappointments and making the most of things when they are easy and when they are hard. We embark on the next 25 years of this trip together as empty-nesters. I can’t wait to see what kind of surprises are in store for us.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
I was having lunch in the lounge at school and the conversation was centering around meatless patties. I mentioned that my favorite wraps at Scovie’s in Charlevoix are the Veggie Burger Burrito and the Oriental Chicken Salad Wrap without chicken.
“Oh, are you a Vegetarian?” my co-worker asked.
“No. I just don’t eat meat.” I responded.
“You’re not a vegetarian, but you don’t eat meat?”
“I like to keep my options open.”
I’ve been on this ‘to meat or not to meat’ journey for several years now. What began as a digestive issue that demanded an extreme dietary change has evolved into somewhat of a personal choice. I just choose to not eat meat now. As I navigated my way from vegan to vegetarian, to not-a-vegetarian, I found out it’s easier for me to not limit myself with labels. If I’m a vegan or a vegetarian, I can’t eat turkey at Thanksgiving or ham at Christmas. I can’t eat a bowl of someone else’s chili because it’s nearly impossible to get all of the little meat bits out (plus that little pile of meat bits on the napkin are just gross). A bowl of chicken noodle soup isn’t fun if I have to worry about those tiny shreds of chicken and if I accidently ingest one, it’s OK because I’m not a vegetarian, am I? I’m not even going to attempt to pick the ground beef out of my mom’s lasagna. I’m just not. It’s not happening.
I also found that being a dinner guest was tricky when I had a label. “What can’t you eat?” was a common question. I found my hostess trying to come up with a special menu to accommodate my “dietary restrictions.” I really don’t like it when people make a fuss over me. I have found I can quietly take the salad, the potatoes, the roll, and the bread without anyone noticing that I didn’t take any meat when I’m not a vegetarian. Plus, I’m enjoying the new found freedom that comes with not being a vegetarian. If I want a bite of bacon, I have one. If I want to have a rib or chicken wing that Tom just made (he’s a genius with chicken wings and ribs by the way) I have one. If I want to have a piece of pepperoni pizza with the pepperoni picked off but I accidently missed a bit baked in the cheese, I eat that too. I refer to a friend of mine as “My niece that’s not really my niece” because she’s my sister-in-law’s niece, so close enough, right? So if you have to call me something, call me “a vegetarian that’s not really a vegetarian,” or better yet, just call me Dawn.
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