b'final mattersParty of One(welltwo)Musings from an empty nest.BY TAMI STECKLERIto you today as an empty nester. Yes, my childrenand putIfinallygetWhenWhichissuchawastePhoto fromam writing have flown the coop and left me all alone. Well, sort of alone. The kind of alone when you are not really physically alone, yourVecteezy.compartners there, but its not your kid, its just some guy you love and married 33 years ago. That kind of alone.becauseI For those of you who are also empty nesters, you know thestill have the bestest ideas. feeling. I walk into the kitchen, and its so quiet, Alexa asksSo here I sit, bursting with paren-herself a question. And then, all of a sudden, I hear a voice,hometal energy, ready to pounce at the first Mom, whats for dinner? And I look around even though Iaway my sad gro- signofmytemporarilyhomebound know the voice is only in my head. But I stand there answering,ceries, it dawns on me that I canson moving a muscle, so I can tell him waxing on about tacos, until I realize I am proving exactly whatwatchanymovieIwantwithoutthat the dryer is free, his favorite juice my kids have been saying all along, and I go directly to the coatinterruptions.So,Ieagerlybrowseis chilling in the fridge, Im heading closet to get out the strait-jacket.through 85 streaming platforms for ato Trader Joes if he wants to join, and So, whats a Type A retired mom to do? Well, I can tell you. Take up embroi- whole hour, only to discover that noneIm eager to spend some quality time dery (after failing at knitting and having the woman at the craft store pity meof the 1,293 movies entices me. Seri- together whenever hes ready. Its been and suggest an easy embroidery kit). Decide to substitute teach in the district,ously, not a single one. So, I surrenderweeks. Hes still not ready.maybe one day a week (and end up, for 8 months, in charge of 17 seven-year- to the comforting embrace of rewatch- No worries. Ill wait patiently, ready olds who are blissfully unaware they are filling my deep-seated and neuroticing Gilmore Girls from the beginning.toreclaimmyparenthoodatamo-need to be around children). Take some longer-term consulting projects thatBecause deep down, its the only thingments notice. Translation: I press my add just a little of the familiar stress Ive spent the last few years avoiding. AndI really want to watch. And all I wantear against his door, knock gently, and go back to school, because why not keep collecting degrees like theyre Pok- to do is yell at Lorelai to savor everywhisperhisname,everytimeIpass mon cards? moment with Rory because, trust me,by. Yet somehow, he manages to ninja And while Im keeping myself busy, I still manage to find a minute to run er- shell be leaving soon enough. his way to the bathroom and return to rands. You know, exciting stuff like going to the grocery store. As I walk throughBack in the day, I was notorious forhis room while my back is turned for the aisles, grabbing two apples, a measly quarter-pound of turkey (seriously, justbeing a compulsive intervener, mucha mere second (I had to tell the fish Ill three slices?), a tiny jar of almond butter, and a super-sized bag of potato chipstotheannoyanceofmychildren.Ifeed them at 3:00). And, once again, (taking betcha cant eat just one to a whole new level), I desperately search forused to think, Youll thank me later!Im left to fend for myself in this emp-that elusive small loaf of bread which is as mythical as a unicorn. And then, in aAnd they did, to some extent. But lit- ty-nested world. heartbreaking moment, the emptiness of my nest engulfs me, and I find myselftle did I know that as they grew older,TamiStecklerwasrecentlydiagnosed sobbing in the frozen food aisle. So, I bury my face in the freezer, pretending tomy interventions would become aboutwith empty nest syndromeher doctors desperately look for no sugar, nondairy, caffeine-free, coffee ice cream. as welcome as a sneeze in an elevator.expect a full recovery.46/ matters magazine / school 2023'