Cheerios for dinner and chocolate for lunch: Confessions of a newly empty-nested mom

I didn’t mean to offend her, but when Haley asked what on earth her dad and I would do with our lives after she moved off to college this semester, I was quick to burst out with my well-laid plan.

“Whatever we want,” I said.

That’s something deep to consider for a couple who had three babies within four years’ time.

Though we’d waited three years before starting our little tribe, once we got started we were committed to the process.

Having three of my own children in diapers while operating an in-home daycare cured me of my youth’s Selfish-itis, but I wonder sometimes, “...at what cost?”

Haley’s question rolled in my noggin as I shopped the helpful, smile-filled aisles of my grocery store today. I was less hurried than I was way back when offspring still lived under my roof.

Moms always have their kids somewhere in their mind for one reason or another. Considering the cereal aisle’s plethora of choices is the perfect example.

I squared my shoulders with a box of Oatmeal Squares and thought, “What DO I want?”

I’m still not sure I remember how to cook for two people. Do we even like the same foods we did when we first married? What if there are foods out there we’ve never tried? Just because Ryan’s wild over sushi, Matt likes any cup full of meat and Haley prefers Tilapia, now that I’m not cooking for them, what DO we want?

We’re questioning everything as if we’re the ones moving out to live on our own for the first time.

You know when people ask how you are, so you do a quick survey in your head of how your kids are doing, then you answer according to that?

Ryan’s nailed down an adult-sized cushie job as a district field manager for a tech company. Middle-child Matt is still geeking out on university engineering stuff like he’s Scotty Smalls on the movie “Sandlot.” And Haley is studying entrepreneurship and photography in New Mexico for a year before she moves away to Africa.

We’re doing great.

As I write this, it’s been 17 days since we’ve seen two-thirds of our kids and six months since we last saw our oldest man-child.

So far so good.

I hear that once your little humans move out, they come back with more little humans. I’ve also heard that if we knew how great grandkids were we’d have them first.

We’re not quite ready for that leap — we’re still wrapping our heads around having our own lives to do with as we please — but we’re close.

In the meantime, I’m planning on Cheerios for dinner tonight. Funny, isn’t it, that it’s the cereal I first bought for my toddlers?

And, yes, I had chocolate for lunch today. Oh sure, since I’m free to make my own choices, yet not make up my own consequences, salad will come somewhere in there. But Cheerios will be first.

So as we work out what living as empty-nesters is going to look like, we’re taking on a new taste-testing plan, for starters. And if you have suggestions, I’m all ears.

It’s going to be a great ride.

One more thing ... I don’t know who said it, but every morning, we get two choices: Continue to sleep with our dreams, or wake up and chase them.

-0oo0-

Kristan Gray is a staff writer for The Valley News.

Her favorite food is chips and salsa.

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