Still Life Under Glass

I’ve not posted in a few weeks. I’m sure you’ve all noticed and been bored out of your minds without my rantings. I tend to go quiet around my birthday – I had warned you. I use that time to reflect on things, and I write, and paint. I’d like to say I’ve created masterpieces in my time away but for the most part, I’ve brooded. I’ve thought about time and missed opportunities. You see, I’ve lost something this month and it’s not anything I’ll ever get back. Being the sentimental (some might say “mawkish”) type, I like to sit around and guilt myself about all the could have, should have moments. Seldom will you see me say I did something “right” – it’s easier to damn myself for how it “should have” been. It’s too late to go back and re-do the last nineteen years of my life though.

There’s an empty space in my garage now – which means I don’t have to shriek at him for parking too close to my car.

There’s an empty room in my house now – which means when I walk up the hallway in the morning, I can’t look in and see his lanky body curled up on his side, or hear his snoring.

There’s an empty space on the sofa – where I no longer see him and his harem all smashed together watching movies or reality television.

There’s no mystery about the mess in the kids’ bathroom anymore – which means if there’s a mess now, with only 1 boy, I can pretty much figure out who caused it.

There are no scatterings of late night meals found the next morning – no lettuce or cereal strewn about the countertop like leftover confetti from his midnight kitchen parade.

There are no puddles of balsamic vinegar left everywhere – which always made me wonder if he came home and decided to finger paint with the stuff.

There are no clothes thrown all over his bedroom floor – which was a constant source of my shrieking.

And, speaking of noise, there’s a distinct lack of it now. There’s no distant “BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM” of techno music heralding his arrival from blocks away. It no longer emanates from his bedroom either – that’s all been replaced by silence.

I admit it. I’m one of those moms who has always lived for her kids. I was never one of the cool ones who could balance work and home life well. From the moment I had him, I dreaded going back to work, but fiscal responsibility demanded it. I was lucky in that I handed him (as an infant) over to my step-mother-in-law to watch, not a stranger, but it’s not the same as being the mom who got to stay home with her baby. There were times I’d finish the hour-long commute, and arrive only to have him burst into tears at sight of me. Ah, that felt great. Nothing like a shot of guilt straight to the heart.

It seems I’m doomed to always second guess myself. As I hugged him goodbye last week, I apologized for being a bad mom. Yes, I was crying. I’m still crying. It’s a lot of clean, quiet, empty space I’m dealing with now and I don’t like it. His little brother is being extra kind to me. I’m sure he’s tired of my incessant weeping. He’ll come around the corner and see me sobbing and get that look on his face like, “God it must suck to be a girl!”

Yesterday as I looked in the mirror I realized I’ve morphed into an unpleasant amalgamation of Phyllis Diller and Endora – without their keen sense of style or stunning good looks. At this rate, if my eyes continue to puff up, I’ll be unable to see, which might be beneficial as it will prevent me from going in his room and digging around for old toys or stuffed animals to torment myself with.

Then there’s that poem of mothering that I printed out when he was a baby. I framed it and put it in his room to remind me to take every opportunity to sit and play with my boys. The last line in the poem is the bane of my existence now – I go to sleep with it running around in my head, and when I wake, there it is again: “I wish I might go back and do the little things you asked me to.”

He calls and texts while away at college. I don’t. I don’t want to disturb him. He has a new life now, while I stay trapped under the glass of his old one. He did laundry last night – for the first time. His harem of four girl roommates are now in charge of his mothering. They get the confetti of food after his late night meals. They get the techno music and the snoring. They get the reality television and the piles of his clothes. They have no idea how lucky they are…


7 responses to “Still Life Under Glass”

  1. Oh, darling! I SO empathize with you. I only had one daughter and thought I was going to get to be a stay at home mom. Unfortunately, my ex decided to start dating again when she was 15 months old. Hmmm…. stay at home and iron his shirts for his dates (yes, he actually asked me to, but I won’t tell you my answer here) or separate/divorce and have to go back to work. I was very fortunate with my daughter and we maintained a great relationship through her teen years. She was kind enough to go to college only 110 miles away. She called frequently (no texting back then), but like you I rarely called her. I don’t see anything wrong with you emailing him, though. That way he can read it at a convenient time. You don’t even have to ask questions that require him emailing back. Just a little note to let him know you’re thinking about him. I did monthly boxes of homemade cookies and the like, too. Jen will be 39 next month and we’re best friends ~ talking, texting and emailing throughout every day. You’ve done a good job ~ you’ve given him the confidence to be out on his own, but you know he loves and misses you because he DOES call and text. At least you still have one at home for a while longer. And just wait till you have grandkids ~ they are just as much a joy as your own children. I have confidence in you, Denise. You’ll get through this. It won’t be easy, but you’ll make it. *Big Squishy Hugs*


  2. Sometimes I think I can’t wait for mine to move out and I’ll finally have my craft room but I think in reality, like you, I’ll be terribly sad to see them go and live their own lives. I do look forward to the new chapters in their lives and hearing their complaints about their own kids (of course my grand kids will do no wrong). I hope you can look forward to the new chapters in his life and maybe a new office space?


  3. Gah! Your pain is my reading pleasure. And I’m calling my mother rightthissecond to tell her I love her. He will too. One day… Promise!


  4. Oh Denise, my heart is breaking for you. The pain of having the first one leave home is deep and nothing I can say or do can take that pain away. I can tell you I understand. A mother’s heart is made for breaking, whether they are living under our roof or not. I hope that you can find some comfort that this is a very exciting time in your son’s life. Brand new experiences that you have well trained him for. Each day for him now will be different and new as he starts his first journey toward adulthood.

    You did that. You raised him and loved him and taught him to be independant one day. To try new things, to further his education, to be a man. You done good mamma. You have got to at least give yourself a tiny bit of credit, where credit is due. So many of our teenagers are just lost, missing out on the opportunities life has to offer. Hanging around and waiting for good things to be handed to them. Not your son, he’s off to college now, bettering himself, bettering his chances to have the best life has to offer. That’s what we want for our children, despite how painful it is to have them go off and leave the comfort of their childhood home.

    Please know I care and that you are not alone. All mothers go through this phase at some point. It does get easier. I promise. Thank you for sharing this very difficult period you are going through Denise. Sending love and hugs your way.

    Joanne ❤


  5. I feel your pain. I am in Providence right now, dropping off my two kids at college. (Double trouble.)
    But this is the second year of this. Last year, when my second, younger daughter left with her older sister, emptying my nest, I recall being unable to enter her room for a couple of weeks. I just left it in the state it was in, which was something like Dorothy of Oz’s room after the tornado. Finally, gingerly, I entered, and tripped over her old fairy wings, which did me in.
    The sadness will abate (sort of), and the good news is, they come back (occasionally). But it is a big time life-changer, this empty nesting, there is no doubt about that.
    Hang in there!


  6. This is, a usual, an amazing glimpse into your existense. I like that about coming here — I get to know you better.
    I guess I’m going through a bit of that now but not as long lasting as what you are going through… not yet anyway.
    Thank you Denise!


  7. I don’t have children, so I can imagine maybe what you are feeling, but I can’t really relate. I can say that I believe you are a great mom and a beautiful person – inside and out. That much I know. Also – I hope your son reads your blog, although I doubt he needs to read this to know how lucky he is to have a mom like you or to know how much he is loved and missed. xo Denise


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