Years ago when my wife and I seemed to be spending every waking hour trying to keep our trio of little rug rats from trashing the house and/or each other, well meaning friends had tried to comfort us by saying, “Ah, yes – but just wait. A few years from now when your kids are grown and gone, you’ll wish you had all of this back.”
The syndrome they were referring to is better known today as the “Empty nest”, and it conjures up visions of two old geezers rocking on the front porch and gazing wistfully at the old swing set rusting in the yard.
Well I hate to be the ‘buster’ of popular myths but it just hasn’t worked out that way.
First off, for the first three years after our little ‘fledglings’ had flown the coop, they kept doing something that made the Empty Nest very difficult to kick in. They kept coming back. With one or more constantly flying off to Europe, California or Australia and then moving back in for 2, 4 or 6 months, the nest was about as empty as a frat house on Free Beer night. The only thing that had really changed since the brood were little rug rats, was that now instead of stocking up on milk and Oreo’s, we found ourselves making trips for Thai take-out and Corona’s and Jack Daniels!
However, after the last of the pizza boxes and tinsel were cleared after the holiday’s this year, my wife and I awoke one frosty January morning and noticed that something was different. For the first time in nearly three decades, we were – alone.
I’ll have to admit that at first it was kind of spooky. No sounds of MTV or size 11 sneakers clumping up and down stairs but gradually we began to find that we were doing things that we had totally forgotten about, like watching a TV program that wasn’t about drugged out rappers or ‘twenty-something relationships. Meals that didn’t have at least one dish that consisted almost entirely of jalapeños and the opportunity to say during the middle of a bad TV night; “Well hello dear - you’re looking awfully cute tonight – what have you been up to for the last thirty years?”
But the thing that surprised me the most - especially having been a musician in my younger days, was that somehow I had missed about 25 – 30 years of music!
No, I don’t mean I’d been locked in dungeon or marooned on a desert island. I’d heard songs on the radio and hummed them while building swing sandboxes and driving kids to college. But they hadn’t really registered. For the most part, I didn’t know the names of them or who sang them. Of if I did – it was only the pop song of the day.
How could that be? How could an old rock and roller give up blasting the best new tunes at 2AM while downing a few ‘cold frosties’? Have you ever gone to turn on the stereo after the last of kids has nodded off and had your wife offer to brain you with a blunt object if they woke up? Well lets just say I got out the habit. But I never really lost my taste for good old ‘kick ass R&R’. And the kids knew that. So this Xmas, they gave the old man his first i-Pod and a gift certificate to the i-tunes store. And best of all – they showed me how to use it all. Thus over the past several months I’ve been going through my second teenage-hood (my wife of course claims that I never left my first one) and have been collecting and playing songs like mad. Oldies, Newbies, folk, rock ,blues –even ‘alternative’ and heavy metal. But especially… all the great stuff that I hadn’t really paid much attention to for the past 30 years. For instance – were you aware that Lynyrd Skynyrd had more songs than, “Free Bird”? Lots more! And now my trusty i-Pod is brimming with them. And that just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve already filled my first 4 Gig i-Pod and am seriously thinking about getting the 20 Gig! And… I can play them whenever I want – and whatever I want (or at least until my wife says, “enough already – play something besides Lynyrd Skynyrd!”)
So for those of you who are currently being driven batty by your own darling brood, I say, “Hang in there. There is life after kids.”
And for those of us who are currently ‘suffering’ through the trauma of the “Empty Nest”, I give you a sympathetic nod – and a big old grin – and say, “Yeah – wink, wink - tough duty, isn’t it.”
Ric Wasley – Author/Musician
• Shadow of Innocence - Kunati - April 2007
• Acid Test - 2004
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From Kunati Publishing: SHADOW OF INNOCENCE - The Newport Folk Festival provides a groovy backdrop for this fun and exciting mystery set in the music and drug soaked sixties. The Baby Boomers and everyone else are sure to enjoy this appealing mystery featuring a pair of musician partners in love and danger. Don't miss Shadow of Innocence From Kunati Publishing.
Available now on; Amazon ,Borders, Barnes & Noble and at bookstores everywhere.
Ric Wasley has spent almost forty years wandering through corporate board rooms and honky-tonk bars. He now divides his time between writing mystery novels and observing the really ‘juicy parts’ of the human condition.