Denise Snodell: When baby leaves the nest, this mom is floored

08/13/2014 8:40 AM

08/13/2014 8:40 AM

Last summer, as we prepared to send our firstborn to college, I developed a bedding obsession. There were not enough blankets, mattress pads, or anything from the back wall of Bed Bath & Beyond to consume. I was Thread-Count Dracula.

Here we are again, just 12 months later, launching our youngest. For this go-round, my compulsive thoughts have defaulted to area rugs. Comforters and Twin XL sheets? So last year.

It seems I have rediscovered my old coping method, albeit with a new twist. First, let’s review why: When a pregnant woman is about to experience labor pains, the “experts” tell her to zoom in on something in the room, like a doorknob or a philodendron. This helps her breathe through the endless tsunamis of “Ow.” It’s what they call a focal point. A door knob is supposed to get her mind off the pain.

Just like my experiences in labor and delivery, and our first offspring college launch last summer, I’ve turned to the focal point technique. It seems my subconscious is saying, “Why not try the thing that never works one more time?”

So, now, obsessing over a 5 by 7 swath of synthetic fiber is the thing that will get me through the newest reality of our rapidly shrinking household. Our baby, the one with the thick mop of dark hair, kind eyes and endless comedy routines, is skedaddling. The kid who collects diverse friends, adores babies and senior citizens and everyone in between, is hitting the road. I’m not even in full brag mode here, so I’ll simply say just like his brother, he’s a smarty pants and an incredible joy to have around. Yet soon he won’t be around. But shhh…

A rug is tying the gloom together.

Why a carpet, of all things? It makes complete sense if you weave in the facts with my general neurosis. About a month ago, I learned my son and his roommate decided to have their dorm beds lofted. This means they will sleep in elevated states, inches from the ceiling, and way too far from the concussion-inducing tile floor.

My son is a diagonal, perpendicular, spin-around sleeper. The occasional mornings I awaken him, he’s twisted in sheets. His feet dangle off the bed. Pillows are usually scattered on the floor. This lanky boy rolls around and tangles up not unlike the cellphone earbuds I place daily in the clothing dryer.

So, the second I heard about the lofting plans, instinct kicked in, along with the birth of a new focal point. I desperately searched the university housing web page for pictures of this high altitude scenario. I was hoping to see industrial-strength guardrails. I found an image, which led to panic. What I saw beside the flimsy bed ladder was, in essence, a foot-long paper clip tucked along the mattress. Not an ideal set-up for a kid who, while sleeping, flips around like a freshly caught bass on a boat deck.

The only solution was a floor softener. A rug. Not just any rug, but the thickest, plushestpadding out there. I scoured the stores like a madwoman, eventually spotting a perfect 5 by 7 freshman catcher.

I found the rug. My Big Lebowski moment.

I dragged my son and husband to the store. They were both in male shopping mode: Agree with the woman and get the heck out of there. I don’t know if they liked my find — a thick, retro shag in the manliest tone of charcoal gray, but we left the store with it. The dudes abided.

But there’s a problem. When the rug rolls up, it’s huge. King Kong would mistake it for a burrito. And very soon, we have to transport it (plus my son) out of state. We’ve been indulging in geometry, pulling out measuring tapes and altering original vehicle plans.

All I can do now, thankfully, is focus on puffy carpet logistics.

And when I drop off my baby, I’m certain only one of us will be guaranteed some kind of soft landing.

Freelancer Denise Snodell writes alternate weeks.

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