Life Deconstructed: An empty nest isn’t so great after all

Life Deconstructed - Maria Jiunta Heck

Who decided a mostly vacant residence was a nest that has emptied, anyway? Let me tell you what is a better description: a vast, hollow void. Echoes of my own voice shouting, “Pick up your dirty underwear from the bathroom floor, you pigs!” pinging off the plaster walls and resettling itself deep into my husband’s ears, where it is, as always, ignored.

It’s not a nest that’s emptied, it’s a house with muted, sad hallways and clean, non-musty rooms. It means spaces of solitude and questioning where and who I am.

It means a treasure hunt within their landfills. A seek and destroy mission that involves melted chocolate on pillowcases (at least I’m praying it’s chocolate), sunflower seeds stuck to carpets and 14 lost hall passes, excuses and several in-school suspension notices for being vastly tardy a copious amount of times. Without my knowledge.

It means for the first time in 25 years, I have left Gerrity’s with only one cart filled with real food. No Fruity Pebbles, no Gatorade, no granola bars (let’s just call them what they are: candy bars), and no beef jerky. I never even realized there was an entire section dedicated to organic produce. I was too busy rifling through my coupons for $1 off Gushers fruit snacks and Snack Packs.

It means the entire issue of towel-gate has been resolved. For now, my bath towel will remain free of other people’s DNA and buffalo chicken wing entrails.

Plus! A clean supply of towels! Because, although we began each week with stacks of pristine towels, by Wednesday I was using a threadbare “Harry Potter” beach poncho to dry myself off because, besides that and a toilet brush, there was nothing left!

It means I can watch all my recorded “Real Housewives” right in a row instead of fighting over the remote with two grown boys so they can watch Netflix shows they’ve already watched to death in their original form; i.e.: “That 70’s Show,” “The Office” and “Malcolm in the Middle.” And, I don’t have to hide the good popcorn and my low-fat DQ Fudgesicles anymore while I view my potpourri of bad TV.

Nirvana on a Popsicle stick, man.

It means the following items will not go missing on any given day and when the suspect is questioned, feigns innocence: my car keys, my phone charger, my computer charger, my computer, my hidden Milano cookies, my umbrella, my hidden Dove chocolate, my sanity.

It means I will go to bed and not worry about a child driving God-knows-where with God-knows-who after curfew. When I hear sirens, I can rest easily; it’s not my kid. This time.

It means that my days are quiet, my dinner time is quieter, my laundry pile is sparse and my toilet is clean.

It means a shot glass of sadness, a thimble full of melancholy and a heaping bowl of sighs.

It means, a nest, a cave, a birdhouse or my home, when it’s empty, it just isn’t right. It’s just a bunch of wood and plaster stones.

There’s only one thing left to do: count the days until Thanksgiving. And turn on “Real Housewives of NYC.”

Life Deconstructed

Maria Jiunta Heck

Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at

Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at

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