Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Who knew ex-husbands could have a purpose?

So should I go ahead and retitle this blog "Empty Nest Diaries"? Heh. Thank you all so much for your helpful comments, which made me feel a little less nutz. (Oh, and Ang, you can bet your ass I saved some of the things Daniel threw out! I think middle-aged men everywhere were weeping openly at the mere mention of Godzilla figures being discarded.) Oddly enough, I got some more help yesterday from an unexpected source: my ex-husband. I'd called him at work to ask him to kick in on some of Daniel's college expenses; the application fees are adding up faster than I'd imagined. After ironing that matter out, he asked whether Daniel's stomach was still bothering him. I said yes, but I thought the cause was nervousness over asking a girl out. He was surprisingly verklempt at the notion of Daniel having a crush on someone, and we both got teary reminiscing about Daniel's childhood. If you'd told me a few years ago my ex would be a comfort to me about anything, I would have laughed in your face. I guess it shouldn't be a shock that the other person who was there when Daniel came into the world might be able to offer something no one else really can.

Anyway, the highlight of the conversation was what he said when I asked why I'm having such a hard time with this transition. Other parents handle their kids growing up and going off to college without having an emotional nuclear meltdown. What's wrong with me? He pointed out that Daniel's growing up has been faster and more sudden than in most other kids, so it's more of a shock. I think he has a point. Daniel never went through the typical teenage rebellions or wanting to spend most of his time with his friends or stomping around yelling "I can't wait until I'm out of this house!" You know, all the things normal teenagers do.

Until a couple of months ago, he was perfectly content staying at home playing gin rummy or talking about books with me, having one or two friends over occasionally, and going to school and work. He did his chores without complaint, didn't talk back, didn't run around wild on weekends . . . in general, he was happy and well-adjusted and a delight to be around. I did worry a little because he didn't seem interested in going away to college; he talked about staying at home the first year or two and going to a nearby community college to complete his general education requirements instead. Given his personality and his history as a homebody, I figured he'd decided that path would be an easier transition for him. To be honest, I was more than a little thrilled he'd be around for a few more years.

I've always thought that I'm fairly resilient and handle change without too much angst. But sudden, radical change? Clearly, I'm not very adept at handling that--but I think that's all right. I'm not optimistic yet or Rebecca-of-Sunnybrook-Farm sunny and hopeful, and if a time machine that would whisk me back a few years suddenly appeared on my doorstep, I'd hop into it gladly. There's a wee chance I might possibly live through this next step, however, even if I DO need the help of my old friend Johnny Walker.