Stalked by the Empty Nest

Well, this is it, the moment we were all waiting for: The Day the Middle Child Moves Out.

My daughters have signed a lease on a little rental for the year of our Lord, 2019, and although I am rejoicing at this next step towards raising independent strong adults, I am also standing frozen in my closet, a blouse in each hand, traumatized at the realization that I will be the only female left in a house full of testosterone.

Ready or not, the winds of change are blowing and it’s going to take an industrial sized bottle of Febreeze to get me through.

2019 is therefore dedicated to opening some conversations. Maybe some hard ones. I need help with these feels and fuzzies. I am happy and sad and worried and proud and celebratory and lonely. My nest isn’t empty just yet. It’s ridiculous. I have a big pile of feels and nowhere to swoon.

The Forgetful Files to the rescue. Our motto is “Everything Worth Remembering” and with all of the change coming around the corner this January, we need to remember Rule Number One:

Remain Calm!

We are turning our blog into a type of forum on transitions and everyone is invited to participate in the Comment box.

Because, girlfriend therapy.

For January, let’s discuss moving house, whether across town, like my family did five years ago, or across the planet, as some of my crazy rellies have done.

Jan 6th: everyone else moving and leaving you in an empty nest
Jan 13th: moving from home to college
Jan 20th: moving from house to house
Jan 27th: moving from home to an elder care facility

I was mourning the loss of accessible auxiliary jewelry (not that I could find whatever I wanted in the drifts of her cyclone-decorated room, but the good stuff was usually on the top pile) when I heard my girls discussing their imminent move.

“You’re keeping your hair drier in your room,” said one, “I don’t need it and the bathroom is teeny tiny.”

“We need a bookshelf. That’s top of the list.”

“People have to take off their shoes in the house.”

“Yeah, and no dirty dishes left in the sink.”

It gives me great satisfaction to say, “I told you so.” Kid number three, she who will not be hangered, the Queen of Quite a Lot, the distributor of flotsam in every corner of the house, was preparing a Pre-Nup in tidy little lines.

Perspective is everything, and there is nothing like moving houses to find it.

Pro: Middle Child finally cares about tidiness.
Con: I will not have access to her cute shoes either. Argh.

Please share thoughts below on an emptying nest; they are uniquely yours, and – happily for the rest of us – universal.

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young… Psalm 84:3

The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!

Gopher, the Other White Meat

When we bought our first home, we were young and reckless.

The only property we could afford was a tiny rock-roofed crumbling stucco 1950s home sitting on a quarter acre of tumbleweeds. There was orange shag carpet covered in pet debris in every tiny room and an O’Keefe and Merritt stove in a kitchen that hadn’t been cleaned since the Eisenhower administration.

It was perfect.

It came with newly retired couples on either side of the chain link fences running the length of our yard.

They tried to digest the fact that twelve year olds had just bought the property.

I was wearing braces at the time. I can’t blame them.

The elderlys welcomed us to the neighborhood, told us about every single resident on the street, and then sat back to watch the show…for the next twenty years.

They were always leaning over the fence, watching.

We went up in their esteem when they saw us clearing the land.

They both gardened and had plenty of advice for where my tomatoes should go and how many corn stalks to a hill and when and which variety of fruit trees to put in.

I took their advice with a smile and a nod and did just as I pleased.

The one thing they agreed on was that gophers are pariahs.

And they must die.

“You can’t drown em out, you know,” began one, “those tunnels go all over the neighborhood. I have a spare smoke bomb in the shed you can use, but sometimes, I just plug all the holes in the yard and snake a hose in there connected to my truck’s tail pipe. It’s cheaper.”

“Poison,” insisted the other, “you gotta stick this stuff into a fresh hole and cover it up. They’ll go back to their dens and die.”

“Costco,” said Hubby, “Costco carries hollow vibrating underground tubes that scare the vermin away.”

“Plant garlic, dear,” said the lady across the street, “onions, marigold, and hot peppers all around your borders.”

I smiled and nodded. But none of those ideas ever worked.

Then came the summer of an epic, Egypt-worthy gopher plague.

It would have toppled a pyramid.

Our huge above-ground pool liner was ridged in the bottom from collapsed tunnels.

It’s stupid when you can trip in a swimming pool.

One morning I looked out the kitchen window and noticed the baby fig tree that we had just planted was shorter than yesterday. Staring harder, I realized the tree was moving. It gave a gentle shake, like a breeze was moving it, then dropped another three inches.

The slender boughs were being yanked down the gopher hole when I ran up to it. I gave them a hard tug, and the last of my sweet baby tree rested in my palm.

I don’t often enter wars, but when I do, victory is the only option.

There was no hope, none at all, for these enemy rodents.

I looked up and the neighbors were watching.

They admired the gleam in my eye.

We formed an alliance on the spot.

The Gopher Wars began.

I, delicate female and advocate of peace on earth, became a hunter the likes of Nimrod.

I grew skilled in the use of the box trap. These same hands that rocked the baby to sleep a half hour ago donned gloves covered in soil to disguise my scent and laid a precision ambush baited with sweet grass.

I, the mother who would not allow her son to have a toy gun, wielded the death blow to the tree murdering garden destroying vermin once they had wandered into my quagmire.

On either side of the fence, my neighbors did the same. Each afternoon we compared numbers. Each time we caught one, we carved a victory notch in our wooden shovel handles.

We buried the little rodents in their own tunnels, as a warning to other riffraff who might travel that way.

That summer, I caught 15 gophers, a personal record.

And this is how I ended up doing the Haka at sunset over a burial mound in my backyard.