The Wannabe Empty Nesters

“Oh no,” Tom Kehl says as he turns onto his street.  “Not again.”

It was happening again, though.  It happens everyday at this time and has been for the past fourteen months, ever since his daughter went on maternity leave.  Everyday he returns home from work to find his daughter’s SUV parked at the end of his driveway.

“Great,” he says in an exasperated tone.  “Once again I have to park on the road.”

It’s not that Tom doesn’t enjoy seeing his daughter, Amber.  When she was growing up he had worried that she’d leave their small town the second she turned eighteen, reducing their face-to-face time to just holidays.  He wanted to be a real presence in her life, and in the lives of his grandchildren, not just a photograph on the wall.  What he didn’t imagine was being a four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days out of the year presence.

Tom has often wondered how Amber gets anything done at home if she’s over visiting her mother everyday with her two kids – Charlotte, fourteen months and Lily, three months.  God only knows Bea hasn’t been able to get anything done since the daily visits started and neither has he.  Just once he’d like to come home, unwind with a beer, and then get started on one of his long neglected household projects.

“Hi, Dad,” Amber says as Tom walks into the house.

“Hi sweetie.”

“Say Dad, Tony and I want to go to an out of town wedding next month.  Would it be okay if you and Mom watched the girls for one night?”

“Sure, I guess,” he agrees because really, how do you say no to your kid and tell her that she’s driving you nuts?  “Just don’t come home pregnant with number three.”

“Oh, Dad.  You’re so funny!”

I’ve never been more serious in my life, he thinks.

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