An Erma Bombeck Column:
A young mother writes: "I know you've written before about the empty-nest syndrome -- that lonely period after the children are grown and gone. Right now, I'm up to my eyeballs in laundry and muddy boots. The baby is teething; the boys are fighting. My husband just called and said to eat without him, and I fell off my diet. Lay it on me again, will you?"
One of these days, you'll shout, "Why don't you kids grow up and act your age!"
And they will.
Or, "You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do ... and don't slam the door!"
And they won't.
You'll straighten up the boys' bedroom neat and tidy -- bumper stickers discarded, bedspread tucked and smooth, toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closet. Animals caged. And you'll say out loud, "Now I want it to stay this way."
And it will.
You'll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn't been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing, and you'll say, "Now, there's a meal for company."
And you'll eat it alone.
You'll say: "I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?" And you'll have it.
No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti.
No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms.
No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps.
No more clothespins under the sofa.
No more playpens to arrange a room around.
No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent.
No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathrooms.
No more iron-on patches, wet, knotted shoestrings, tight boots, or rubber bands for ponytails.
Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it. No baby sitter for New Year's Eve. Washing only once a week. Seeing a steak that isn't ground. Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.
No PTA meetings.
No car pools.
No blaring radios.
No one washing her hair at 11 o'clock at night.
Having your own roll of Scotch tape.
Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste.
No more sloppy oatmeal kisses.
No more tooth fairy.
No giggles in the dark.
No knees to heal, no responsibility.
Only a voice crying, "Why don't you grow up?"
and the silence echoing, "I did."