04/29/2016 06:41 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Facing the Empty Nest: The Mother of a High School Senior Finally Cracks


Idyllic morning in DC. Azaleas in full flower. I sip coffee at the kitchen window, eying a robin as she builds her nest on a low branch outside. Her cheerful air of maternal anticipation is too much.

Don't do it, girl. Drop that twig and go get your doctorate or something. No? Ok, here's how it's gonna go down. You'll be stuck for eons sitting on those eggs. You will not go to the movies. You will not go to the bathroom. Eventually you'll pay someone to spell you so you can go back to work and use your big-girl brain. There you will preside uselessly over meetings, your thoughts eclipsed by heart-stopping images of your spawn being cracked open, fried into omelettes, and fed by the sitter to her meth-dealing boyfriend. Because you'll want said sitter to love you and your offspring in a non-breakfasty way (and because her job is harder than yours), you'll pay her most of your salary, plus better benefits.

Your chicks will hatch. You'll spend your middle adulthood beak-feeding them love, wisdom, and about a million bucks. You'll live in constant terror that they'll fall out of the nest and smash their little skulls. Then one day, after what feels simultaneously like an eternity and like two weeks, you'll wake to find they've flown the coop-- taking your heart and leaving behind the bill for their first semester's tuition, a mountain of moldy gym shorts, and (under their beds) several petrified half-eaten yogurts. You'll find all your missing spoons.

Seriously, what's the point?

Wait -- where'd you...? Good, you're back. Sorry. It's kind of a weird time for me, obviously. Listen, I've been knitting this sweater for, like, 18 years. Please accept some worsted weight mohair in Loden. You know, for the nursery.