Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rain and Dogs and College

(Me with my freshly graduated kiddos back in June.)

Glory be & hallelujah it's raining in Tulsa, Oklahoma!!

This has been the hottest, driest, most miserable summer we've had in a while. With temps over a hundred for days and days, I've been feeling a tad panicky. I LOATHE being hot. Running simple errands becomes an endurance marathon. Though the AC is blasting, it's never quite cool enough for real relief.

The hotter I get, the more grumpy I get, which has made getting everybody ready for college even tougher than I'd anticipated. Through shimmering heat rising from blacktop parking lots, I've schlucked comforters and throw rugs and pillows. Clothes and more clothes and enough extra underwear to last the first semester. We've got shower tubs and shoes and monogrammed wraps and towels. Mirrors and photo frames and a room-sized wall mural of the bare-chested Abercrombie & Fitch guy that my daughter's store manager gifted her with for her dorm. All of the above now resides in my living room, which has got the dogs freaking out.

Home is my favorite place to be, so last month when I left for a week in Orlando at the Romance Writers of America's annual conference, all of my furry babies went on hunger strike. Now that they're once again seeing piles of stuff being packed, they eye me with suspicion every time I near the front door. I am the giver of cuddling and food, but the kids play with Cocoa, Sweet Pea and Daisy. So when Hannah, Terry & Russell leave, I fear there may be more doggy trouble.

Back to the heat, it has been an odd blessing. I'm so annoyed by the hot weather, that it's temporarily taken my mind off the gravity of Monday morning. Save for vacations and holidays, my nest will never be full again. I'm not even kind of sure how to process that statement. Was it really me who used to pray for school to start so I'd finally be home alone?

I play games with myself, thinking never having to share the TV won't be bad. (Poor Hubby doesn't get a vote!!! LOL!!) For the first time in eighteen years, the house will be clean. No more laundry mountains. With no more pizza rolls and cookies and fast food, I'll be instantly skinny--stop laughing!! But seriously, I'm scared. If change is supposed to be good for us, then why am I secretly filled with terror? I want to snatch up my beautiful smart and funny babies and never let go. In the same breath, I'm so proud of them and excited for their new adventures that I know it's time to let go.

It's odd to me that just as I make the final push to send them off, the heat has broken. Throughout the packing process, I've been a warrior. Shopping and sorting and organizing as if it was the essay question on my final parenting exam. Now that it's nearly done, like summer's heat, I'm exhausted. Flooded with memories, and wondering why I was so eager for my cute third graders to go back to school.

My daughter asked what I used to do before I had kids and honestly, I don't remember. That person doesn't seem real. For eighteen years, I've put everyone else's needs ahead of my own to the point that with just me to focus on, I feel a little lost. Is it wrong to at the same time feel a little excited? Maybe with my extra hours I will manage to exercise. I'll watch movies only I want to see and wake not when school schedules tell me, but when my body tells me. I'll "waste" entire afternoons reading for pleasure and never again go to PTA.

If I had this morning's rain falling in a book, just in time for the heroine's breakdown, it'd feel almost cliche. But for me, it's a tremendous relief. Like a sign that just as this awful heat has passed, so will my angst. I really will feel whole again and love it. I just need to make it past Monday . . .


Leigh Duncan said...

I know there are a lot of us out here, Laura, who hope you'll use your new-found "free" time to write more wonderful books for Harlequin American! And don't despair, kids do come home again...usually dragging huge bags of dirty laundry.

Marin Thomas said...


I'm right there with you this summer. I'm sending off my daughter to college and our living room is full of girlie-girl stuff for her dorm room. She's excited but nervous, too. Thank goodness for texting and e-mail :-)

Dexter: Honorable Cowboy July 2010

Laura Marie Altom said...

Leigh--Bless you!! Thanks for the kind words!! I'm hoping writing will be my therapy--along with chocolate!! ;-)

Marin--For some reason I thought your daughter was a year behind mine. Hugs to you, too!! Where is she going?

Estella said...

It doesn't take long to get used to having the house to yourself again.
They will be home again.

Linda Henderson said...

I wish you'd send some rain up I-44 to me in Joplin, we haven't had rain in a while either and I don't handle heat that well. Bring on Fall, it's my favorite season. I remember when my daughter's left home, I realized I'd never been alone before. From home, to marriage, to kids, I'd never been by myself. Since I'm divorced it was a big adjustment to having all that noise to total silence. Of course now I have my grandkids to come over and wreak havoc now.

Laura Marie Altom said...

Estella--Thanks for chiming in. I know you're right!!

Linda--Unfortunately, our rain didn't last long. By noon, the temp was back over a 100!!

Sounds like you've adjusted brilliantly to your empty nest!! Hope I'm able to do the same!!

Julie Hilton Steele said...

My sister just sent her youngest off and was proud she didn't cry. I just told her that was because the oldest doesn't go back to college until next weekend...then we will check in again!

She is also the type to redo the rooms as soon as the kids leave, like that commercial a while back.

Me, the kids only moved 20 minutes away and didn't come home to do laundry so it felt like they moved out of state.

Peace, quiet, writing time...that is good news for all of us readers of your books.