She came into my life when i needed her most!
Empty Nest Solution
“Mom! I joined the Navy today!!! I leave in six weeks!”
“You what?” My baby in the navy? Boot camp? She can’t keep her room clean! She doesn’t do orders well. She hates to exercise! Oh dear.
“I’m going to be a journalist in the Navy! Anchors aweigh and all that. I’m going to live on an aircraft carrier and see the world! And don’t worry, I can still earn college credits, Mom.”
“The Navy? You’re leaving when?” I sat down. Well, actually, I slid down to the floor along the wall that was holding me up.
Cara handed me a cup of coffee and, companionably, flopped down on the floor next to me. “I really want to do this, Mom. It will be ok. You’ll be okay. Bet you won’t even miss me. You always said that you were the one person who would not have a problem with ‘empty nest' syndrome, didn’t you?”
I did say that. But that was before my youngest ever thought about using those wings I’d given her.
Six weeks flew by, as time will when you do not want it to. To my daughter, the time dragged inexorably. I cried as she was inducted into the United States Navy for six years, and managed to smile as I waved goodbye. The Navy?
I came home to an empty house. I made the mistake of deciding to clean up the disaster she’d left behind in her flurry of last minute packing/discarding/keeping/tossing. Her room was absolute mayhem. It was not a good idea. Sitting on her bed, atop her pillow, was the ‘Bed-time bear’ Carebear she’d had her entire life. It was her nickname for years until it was shortened to simply ‘Bear.’ Sometime after a while of soaking her Carebear with empty nest tears, I fell asleep.
The house was way too quiet. No slamming of doors as she went off with her friends. No phone ringing off the hook. No coffee made for me at odd moments. No radio blasting. No popcorn left on the living room floor. I’d cleaned her room (finally), rearranged the furniture, and everyday I’d see some little thing of hers and feel very blue.
Not exactly sure why I stopped in the pet store that day. I was not looking for a pet, certainly not a dog as me and housebreaking a dog was a proven failure. But that little ball of Bichon Frise fluff was too cute to resist and my income tax return was burning a hole in my checkbook. Besides, Mom had always wanted a Bichon and it was the one year anniversary of her death. I came home with an eight week old Bichon, a crate, a leash, dog dishes, food, toys and a big smile.
Now, the name was the immediate issue. She looked just like the ‘Snuggle bear’ from the commercial. Bear, I thought. Carebear. And Bear it was. A tiny, fit in the palm of your hand pooch named Bear.
Suddenly I had tons to do. Housebreaking my oh-so-intelligent pup was breeze! She learned to sit and stay. She slept on the bed with me and shredded squeaky toys. Then my daughter called. I kept referring to the dog as the puppy. Finally, several months later, she asked me what the dog’s name was.
“Bear? You named the dog after me? Tell me don’t you refer to yourself as Momma, Mom. Please tell me you don’t do that!”
Time to change the subject. Didn’t work. “Mo-ther! I thought you weren’t worried about my leaving? Bear? You named the dog after me? Don’t tell me I have a dog for a sister now! Oh gosh, don’t tell Kelly! “ At this point she is giggling uncontrollably. “Bear, huh? Too funny, Mom. Well, at least you don’t have to worry about this Bear joining the Navy. Oh and Mom, I have some news.... I’m getting married."
I dropped the phone. I slid down the wall, again. But this time, I had a white puffball in my lap to hold on to.