We did it. We made it over the finish line in a race that was 21 years, 1 month and 23 days in the making. We dropped our younger son off at college last week, officially making us empty nesters.
People keep asking me what Jay and I are going to do with all our newfound freedom. I'm going to be honest here: I don't expect it to last too long.
If the number of mask-less sorority and fraternity parties we witnessed on the drive through my son's campus is any indication, we're going to be turning around in about two weeks and picking up our kid when the outbreak hits.
That's uncharacteristically pessimistic of me, I know. But seriously. It doesn't matter that my son's college is requiring masks on campus and putting all the freshman in single rooms and conducting free COVID-19 testing and offering online classes … when whole houses full of students are playing beer pong out on their front lawns.
Anyway. I digress. Because I'm not here to explore the struggle raging inside me about sending my 18-year-old to live in a dormitory in the age of corona. That's for another day. Today, I'm here to share first impressions of my own little empty nest.
I call this list "Four Things I've Noticed About the Empty Nest in Five Days."
1. Grocery shopping is super weird. It's like I'm in a grocery store for the first time in my life. I'm wandering through Hy-Vee thinking, "What do we even eat? Sandwich meat? Tortillas? Pretzels? Do we even like those things or is that just the boys?" And produce! I have no idea how many bananas to buy. How many tomatoes we'll use. Whether the better half of a bag of apples is going to mock me, uneaten, from the refrigerator.
2. It's so much easier to sort laundry. You know what's coming out of the dryer? My clothes. My husband's clothes. Towels and sheets. You know what's not coming out of the dryer? T-shirts and shorts that look identical except for some small detail — button color, sleeve length, miniature logos — differentiating them between which son owns them.
3. I've become a crazy phone person. Ask anyone who texts me: I'm the worst. It's not unusual for me to leave my phone in my purse or on my desk or God knows where for hours at a time. And even when I do know where it is, I have it muted so I don't hear it ring or beep. Which means I rarely reply to messages until long after they've been sent to me. Until now. I've suddenly become that person who has their phone within arm's reach at all times. You know, in case my recently flown bird needs me or misses me or just wants to talk. (Reality check: Not one of these things has happened yet.)
4. I hear my kids. My older son, Christian, left for school a couple of weeks ago. Bergen, you already know, left just five days ago. Yet, every time I hear my husband come in through the garage door, I assume one of our boys just came home from work. Every. Time.
So that's how my empty nest has been so far. Our house is pretty quiet. The dog is lonely. And when I pulled cucumbers from my son's garden yesterday, it took willpower I didn't even know I possessed to not FaceTime him that very second to tell him about it.
I think, ultimately, I'm going to like this whole house-to-ourselves thing. If it lasts, that is. I'll keep you posted.
Jennifer Koski is associate editor at Rochester Magazine. Her column appears Tuesdays. Send comments to email@example.com.