Magic on the Sand


Here’s a story about finding your place, and a little magic, on the sand.

I saw a little piece of magic this weekend, right here on the Jersey Shore. Something that reminded me, not for the first time, that I am right where I’m supposed to be.

The celebration of our nation’s independence stirs up a lot of emotions for me. I mean, when you’re divorced, all holidays kinda suck, but the Fourth of July a few years back marked the end of my almost 18-year marriage and the beginning of a whole new way of life for our family. It’s become the delineation between our “before” and “after.”

For me, that means I no longer spend my summers at the hoity-toity beach club where we raised our four children – our days filled with swim team practices and tennis lessons and where beach boys set up your chairs and umbrellas – to a much more low-key situation about a half mile down the beach to the south. There’s a snack bar, bathrooms and a pool but parking can be challenging and I now own a rubber mallet to help secure my own beach umbrella.

Honestly, that fancy beach club – with its dramatic arches, mullioned windows and black-and-white-tiled ballroom – was probably one of the reasons why I stayed married for as long as I did. It was a part of my super-shiny identity. You know, that part of me that secretly loved the club’s parking sticker on the front bumper of my car and Sunday happy hours in my oh-this-old-thing Trina Turk cover up. Or humbly telling folks, when asked, that the exclusive club was where I planted my umbrella during the summer months. Oh, you know. NBD.

But it’s also where I hauled my children – and their playpens and buckets of toys and our cooler filled with juice boxes and ham sandwiches with neatly trimmed crusts – every single summer day for 15 years. Seriously, I was like a pack mule. We’d set up camp in the morning and stay until dinnertime. I was the boss at getting babies and toddlers to nap and later, I’d carry them into one of the club’s shower stalls and rinse the sand from all their chubby little nooks and crannies before heading home for the day.

As the kids got older, there were early-morning swim team practices and tennis lessons later in the afternoon and then swim meets at night. The kids would go to bed sunburnt and exhausted and – aside from the sunburnt part – I’d felt like I’d crushed my job as a mom that day. And then we’d get up the next morning and do it all over again.

One of the more interesting dynamics of this club is that members sit with their families on the beach or – if you were so blessed – in front of coveted cabanas lining the boardwalk. As my then-husband’s parents were the original members to the club, we spent our days sitting with his family. We’d sit in a circle on the sand or watch the kids together up at the pool and a lot of times, sit together at dinner in the club’s Tea Room overlooking the ocean. And honestly, I didn’t hate it. I mean, I’d complain sometimes and roll my eyes behind their backs about this or that but really, I could do the same for my own family. Probably your family, too. We’re all a little annoying. A little bit crazy.

But I spent many a pleasant summer afternoon sitting with my former in-laws, taking turns filling inflatable pools with big buckets of ocean water for toddlers to splash in and chatting and reading the paper. The ladies would talk about the books we were reading or the trials and tribulations of raising children and the men would dig holes and play basketball on weekend afternoons (while the women back on the sand watching the kids noted how annoying that part was).

The years went by and the kids grew older and those traditions became woven into the proverbial fabric of our lives. We had the sweatshirts, trophies and the kids’ names engraved on the plaques that line the club’s walls to show for it.

When my marriage ended, I fought hard to stay at that club and help maintain those traditions. I reasoned that even though the marriage fell apart, everything else in my children’s world didn’t have to. I’d been down that road when my own parents’ marriage dissolved 30 years earlier and didn’t want my kids to have to experience the same type of disruption in their lives. The abrupt end to everything they knew before the fall.

Sure, their dad would still be a member, but he worked full-time and – if we’re being really honest here – I was the glue that kept all that family stuff together. I embraced his family and made their traditions ours. And a big part of that was the beach club. And at the time, I still had four kids from about 5 to 15 to entertain for four months out of the year.

But neither the powers-that-be at the club nor, sadly, my in-laws subscribed to that broader type of thinking. They were all immune to the idea that divorce doesn’t have to end a family. That it could be, instead, a different way of being a family; a group of people who, despite the lack of a marriage license, still care about each other after years of sitting around and talking in the sand.

Instead, lines were drawn and sides were chosen and I was left looking for a new place to park my beach chair.

So I headed south and fell into the big, wide safety net held up by my new beach family. The men and women who made room for my beach chair in their circle and offered me their company – not to mention some super-spicy margaritas – when my going got tough.

Sitting in that circle in the sand this weekend I thought about how far I’d come in the six summers since my marriage ended. How, at first, I felt so out-of-place sitting on that new beach as a single person. I felt like an intruder among the couples. I mean, I didn’t even know how to put up my own umbrella. Back then, I figured it was as good enough place as any to bide my time and besides, my youngest was thrilled to get to spend his days in the ocean with all his friends.

But now we’ve logged a lot of hours together on the beach, bonding while kids swirled around our circle, looking for towels and fins and money for the snack bar. We save places for each other in the sand and talk about our kids and what we’re reading and roll our eyes at the guys and come back the next day and do it all over again.

Just like any other family

As the sun began to set on Sunday, I noticed a couple of kids running to stand at the shoreline and point towards the ocean. I turned and saw a fin rise out of the darkened water before slipping back down and soon we were all on our feet watching a line of dolphins swim north past us, close to shore.

We oohed and aahed as they began undulating a little higher out of the water, exposing more and more of their sleek gray bodies. And then, as if on cue – as if the animal knew an audience stood gathered on the beach watching the parade go by in wonder – one of the dolphins jumped completely out of the water and gave its tail a shake before plunging nose first back into the ocean. The crowd erupted in hoots, turning to each other in amazement, as the pod continued to make its way north under the setting July sun before we all settled back into our chairs to wait for darkness to arrive.

And I have to believe that the dolphin’s thrilling leap was a sign from the universe that there is magic around every corner – no matter where your umbrella is planted – and that I was right where I was supposed to be, on a beach in New Jersey surrounded by friends on a warm summer night.

Looking for magic? Well, actually I’m not really a magician. But you can sign up to get all of my latest posts sent right to your inbox by typing your email into the box below. And that’s kinda magical. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

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When Nothing is Fair at the Fair

Credit: David Hand

Credit: David Hand

It happened around 7:35 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 26 this year. That’s the moment when my youngest child – a boy who still kisses me full on the lips and likes to sleep in my bed – looked at me in horror when I suggested we go on a ride together at the annual firemen’s fair in the next town.

“Hey,” I said to him as I handed over the $25 worth of tickets I had just stood in line to buy, “let’s go on the Rainbow together.”

The Rainbow is that platform with two rows of seats that swings out sideways, back and forth, and eventually starts going all the way around in one direction and then switches to the other direction — thus really mixing up whatever’s been sitting in your stomach since dinner.

“I’m not going on the Rainbow with you,” he snarled, recoiling from me as if I’d just suggested we clean toilets together.

“What are you talking about?” I said, looking down at his little face twisted in revulsion. “Everyone wants to go on the Rainbow with me.”



And it’s true. My daughters always loved going on rides with me when they were younger and we’d make our annual pilgrimage to the fair. They would happily sit next to me as the Rainbow would lift us up and over the fairgrounds or join me strapped in the death cage called the Zipper that spun us inside, outside and upside down while I shouted the “f” word at the top of my lungs. They got a kick out of seeing their mom convinced she was about to die.

I think I am one of the few grown ups who actually likes going on those rickety fair rides. I enjoy spinning around while worrying about the last time the ride had passed a safety inspection or whether the operator was addicted to prescription meds. It’s fun. And I really love doing it with my kids. Near death experiences are always excellent bonding opportunities.

So when my girlfriend and I decided to take our sons and a few other boys to the fair that night, I was looking forward to drinking a beer, eating an ice cream cone and going on at least one ride with my kid. Sounded like the perfect night.

My 11-year-old, however, had a different vision for how our evening would transpire, which mostly involved him roaming around the fair with his posse while I paid for the whole experience and then waited around to drive him home.

And that’s pretty much what happened. I handed him the ride tickets and forked over another $15 for games and ice cream, and he and his dudes disappeared for the night. They had to check in every half hour with the moms by the mini golf course but then they were free to roam around the fair.

But after one such check in, my girlfriend and her husband decided they were going to go on the Ferris wheel with their daughter and I A.) Didn’t want to be the third wheel in such a little car and B.) Am terrified of the Ferris wheel and try to avoid whenever possible. Then I overheard the little dudes say that they were headed to the Rainbow, and I was like, “Hold on, I’m coming.”

I mean, what else was I supposed to do?

We stood on the long line and slowly made our way towards the ride entrance and the boys pretty much ignored my presence. Our turn finally came to climb onto the ride’s platform and we handed over our tickets to the dude and my son led the way to the back row where we filed into our seats and he made sure to place his three friends in between the two of us.

“C’mon,” I said to him as the rest of the row settled in. “Switch seats.”

But my son, the same child who just earlier that day was curled up next to me on a beach towel and would later come home and insist on sleeping in my bed, refused to budge. He wouldn’t even make eye contact with me.

So there I was, pretty much on the Rainbow by myself and only thankful that the sadness of the event was shielded from most bystanders by the row in front of me. And while I loved being lifted over and around and seeing the lights of the fair below, there is something kind of sad about a 48-year-old woman having that experience solo.

But I guess it’s just the natural order of things. Unless it’s drinking alcohol together (preferably booze that I’ve purchased), none of my kids really want to do things with me any more. They’d rather go off with their friends.

I just didn’t expect my little guy to shun me right there, at, like, 7:30 on a Wednesday night. I thought I’d have more time to prepare for that final rejection.

But I found consolation later in my ice cream cone. I don’t even like ice cream that much but I love the soft serve cones they serve at the fair, which swirl the chocolate and the vanilla together and then get dipped in a bucket of chocolate sprinkles to make a nice, crunchy outer layer.

I sat on a bench and licked the sprinkles dripping down the sides and noticed that I didn’t even know anyone at the fair any more. When my three older kids were younger, it seemed like I’d at least recognize most of the other parents pushing strollers through the dirt and chasing little ones toward the fun house. But now half my kids are in college and the other half is apparently too cool to be seen at the fair with me and I don’t know a soul. It seems after almost 20 years, we’ve aged out of the Rainbow and Zipper.

I popped the last of the cone into my mouth – the best bite in my estimation – and stood up to meet the boys and go home and wondered if there were any more trips to the fair in my future. Maybe next year I’d be relegated to just picking up and dropping off.

I’ll miss the plastic cups full of beer, commiserating with the other parents and of course — that meltingly-soft ice cream cone. But mostly, I’ll miss spinning high overhead under the lights of the fair pressed close to one of my children on a hot August night.

Sweeter than ice cream.




5 Things I Feel Kind of Sorry About (In No Particular Order)


I try not to live a life of regret. I try to frame the maybe-not-so-positive events that go down in my world as life lessons. This way of thinking makes my therapist very happy and I’m a pleaser so there you go.

However, sometimes I do find myself second guessing decisions I’ve made. Wondering what the fuck I was thinking about in certain instances.

And because it’s the end of August and absolutely nothing is happening in my life – at least that I can write about – I thought I’d share the Top 5 things I’m fretting about right now.

I know, you’re welcome.

  1. Sex With Strangers

I was paying my AmEx bill last Friday afternoon and noticed a charge for theater tickets and was like, “What the hell?” A quick search in my inbox turned up an email confirming tickets my girlfriend and I had bought a few weeks ago, kind of spur-of-the-moment, for an Off-Broadway play that got a great review in The New York Times called “Sex With Strangers.” The two-person show stars Anna Gunn – Skyler White from “Breaking Bad” – and some super-hot, sexy young dude named Billy Magnussen and the review said it explored real vs. social media personas and the struggle for writers to find commercial success while staying true to their artistic sensibilities. So up my alley. “HOLY FUCK,” I texted my gal pal, “We have tickets to see that show tonight!” Usually, if I need to get into the city from New Jersey, I need a game plan because it can be a real pain, especially on a Friday afternoon. But we got our acts together and took a ferry into Manhattan and even had time to spare for a glass of wine and big bowl of mussels at a restaurant bar before the show. And here’s where the trouble started. Here’s where, maybe because of the wine or the pretty sexy show, I got a bee in my bonnet about an itch that I needed to scratch. It had been brewing for a while but the show kind of set the wheels in motion for something that happened later in the weekend. And whether it’s a relief to have scratched at that itch or, like poison ivy, I should have just left it alone, remains to be seen. Well, everything is copy, as a certain hero of mine has said. But the show is at the Second Stage until the end of the month and as long as you don’t harbor a secret hankering for a much-younger man, I highly suggest you get tickets and see it. Maybe just leave your cell phone at home.

  1. Hermit Crabs

Haven’t I made myself clear? Haven’t I told my kids, time and again, I was not interested in bringing anything else into this house that needs to be kept alive? Like, I don’t even own a houseplant. But my third child gets teary-eyed when she thinks of all the pets I’ve allowed her older sister to own/kill over the years. The frog. The mice. The poor guinea pig that slowly fossilized in our basement. It pisses the younger sister off that she never had the same opportunity to torture small creatures. So, now I see – via some videos she’s sent me on Snapchat – that she has righted those childhood wrongs and bought herself two hermit crabs while spending the week away with friends down the shore. I’ve already watched them skitter across the floor of the beach house where she’s staying. I am not thrilled and wonder how long it will take for those things to shrivel up inside their shells the way the hermit crabs we had, like, 15 years ago for the two older kids did. I give them two weeks and they better not fucking smell while they’re at it.

  1. My Raging Narcissism

There was a time when I really knew what was going on in the world. When I’d wake up early each day and read the paper cover-to-cover. But lately, I get up and grab a cup of coffee and immediately start writing about myself in my journal – documenting my weight and daily alcohol intake – while tragedies unfold in St. Louis and Iraq and I still can’t tell you the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite, much less what ISIS stands for. I can, however, report that I’ve lost almost 10 oz. since yesterday.

  1. The Fantasy of the Only Child 

Don’t tell my three older kids, but for some time now I’ve fantasized about what it will be like when they’re all off in college or starting their grown up lives and it’s just me and their little brother left at home. I’d imagine how clean our kitchen would be and all the cool things my little guys and I would be able to do together in the older kids’ wake. But, just like the reality of how things like being a grown up or marriage never quite stack up to how we imagined they’d be, having an only child is far from perfect. In fact, it’s kind of boring. Sure, my house is a little cleaner and he’s happy eating taquitos night after night, but I kind of miss the chaos of all those other personalities. Turns out, I really like having them around.

  1. The Summer of Amy

You’ve heard it here before, how my 10 Days of Fun somehow stretched into my Summer of Amy. How a lot has transpired over the course of the last three months. I have danced and I have kissed and pretty much made up for all those nights home, cooking for kids and working, over the last five years. And although I normally can’t wait for summer to come to an end, am almost pushing my kids out the door for the first day of school, this year is somehow different. I’ve loved having time off from work to screw around on my blog, sit on the beach with my kids and focus on my love life (such as it is). And I know in no time, I’ll be back at work and rushing to make dinners and go grocery shopping and it will all be a distant – fabulous – memory. So, who in the world would ever think they’d hear me say this: I am really sorry to see the summer end.

What, pray, are you sorry about, nowadays? I’m an equal-opportunity venter and would love to hear what’s bringing you down. Misery does love company, you know. 


photo-35I knew that my 48th birthday yesterday was a something when it even seemed to give my father pause.

I called him the day before to thank him for the gift he sent, and he mentioned my age and how the calendar on his computer had told him it was “Amy Byrnes’s 48th birthday” and then he says, “Huh” and literally paused.

My father is a man of few words so I could tell that for him to bring it up, he thought my age was a something, too. I think it even made him feel old.

And honestly, I usually don’t really get caught up in my age. I still feel like the same, albeit much smarter, woman who I was 20 years ago. I feel healthy and strong and know that I can still turn heads if I really put my mind to it and wear, like, mascara and stuff.

It’s just that I’m starting to feel, as I near the end of my 40s, that there’s an expiration date on all of this. Things are starting to feel a little less infinite.

For one thing, as much as I didn’t really worry too much about a man’s age initially as I re-entered the dating scene, I’m starting to think that a cap needs to be put in place. I need to draw the line on just how young of a man I am willing to spend time with, which is really going to limit the already pretty limited dating pool I’m forced to deal with.

It’s like that really great line from the movie “The Other Woman,” which I watched last night with my daughters, in which the Lesley Mann character — who is struggling with whether to leave her philandering husband — expresses her horror at the idea of dating in her 40s.

“The last time I was single I was 24 and the dating pool was everyone,” she cries to the Cameron Diaz, not-very-sympathetic, character. “And now it’s like a shallow puddle of age appropriate men who are old and gross.”


I’m also starting to feel that I need to get going on all of those things I was going to do “some day” – like write a book or be a famous blogger –because “some day” is, like, right now.

I worry, which I never did before, that I’m getting too old for some things, like going to certain bars on Sunday nights to dance and wearing the cat necklace my 11-year-old gave me for my birthday out in public. I’m concerned about what other people might think about me and whether I can pull certain things off because even though I feel young, my looks are beginning to betray just how old I really am.

And that light I’d been looking for at the end of my parenting tunnel — that time in my life I fantasized about when I still had to wash three little heads under the tub faucet each night and sweep piles of discarded Cheerios and bits of American cheese off my kitchen floor – when they’d actually grow up, is kind of here, too. In no time I’ll watch my oldest turn 22 and graduate from college and send my third kid off to school and things around here are really going to start to change. Even my days as the mom of an elementary school student are starting to wind down, which you’d think – as I’ve had a child in grammar school since 1999 – wouldn’t come as such a big shock, but it’s hard to believe that those days of art shows, band concerts and middle school dances might actually come to an end.

The good news is that I am ridiculously optimistic, like, as hopeful as a golden retriever just waiting for you to drop something off your fork onto the floor, so I know it’s all going to work out. I’m just going to move to new stages of my life while my neck continues its downward spiral as it tries to merge into my décolletage but it’s all going to be okay.

Because what are my options? I have a girlfriend right now who is facing the challenge of breast cancer, so I’m certainly not going to start crying about my sagging boobs. I’m lucky their collective droop is the worst issue I have to deal with in that department.

And even though this was the fifth birthday I’ve celebrated as a single person, I appreciate how it’s forced my kids to take responsibility for making it a special day for me. They bought me great gifts, took me out to dinner and even paid for parking. They also took care of some pesky chores around the house – like putting chemicals in the pool and organizing shelves in the garage – without a peep of resistance. Someone even emptied the dishwasher.

So, am I thrilled about turning 48? Um, not so much. But am I grateful for all of the things I am blessed with here, in the middle of my pretty wonderful life?

You betcha.

Happy birthday to me.

Happy birthday to me.




Summer ’14 Highlights: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and Egg Whites

I do also go to Costco on occasion, I'll have you know.

Sometimes I go to Costco, I’ll have you know.

My two daughters came into my room this morning to find me lying on my bed, typing on my laptop.

“Mom, are you wearing real clothes?” one of them asked, and she started to inspect the strange pleated pants I was wearing that I bought at Athleta recently and had really taken a cotton to. They’re kind of  silky – a step up from nylon – and an oyster color and are fitted at the ankle and fuller around the waist.

“Yes I’m dressed,” I said, indignantly. “If you’re MC Hammer.”

“Mom, we really think you need to get out of the house,” the other one said. “It’s like your old job all over again except now you’re just doing nothing.”

Then they started to toss a million different activities out to motivate me off the bed (Who do they think they are? Me?):

“Why don’t you go clean your closet?”

“Or maybe organize the crawl space?”


“Go to the gym?”

“Do you want to come to Harmon with me?”

But when I tried to interview them about their collective fear that I am frittering my days away this summer, they immediately stopped talking.

“I don’t want any of my quotes showing up misconstrued, as usual, on your blog,” said the older one, “which you’ve already done, like, a magillion times.”

NOTE TO SELF: Start wearing a wireless device to capture these conversation gems on the down-low because there is little else to write about of late.

With about six weeks left to go, this summer break from school (I hesitate calling it a “vacation” because, let’s face it, kids lying around your house all day is not akin to a week in Jamaica) has been a study in contrasts around here.

While the season started off with a bang – filled with head staples, stitches and matters of the heart – it has kind of evened out into one big yawn.

I mean, the most exciting thing that’s happened in my life this week is that I swapped out egg whites for Greek yogurt in my morning smoothie.

But that might be okay.

I mean, the downside is that I’ve had absolutely nothing to write about, which is a combination of being in a very slow personal news cycle and not wanting to hurt people’s feelings (oh, how all the feelings get in the way of things).

I’ve had my fair share of sustained summertime excitement over the years. In fact, this is the first summer in memory where I haven’t wanted to blow my brains out by mid-July.

In the past, I had little kids to keep busy, and I did so by lugging everyone to the beach each morning. That evolved from me dragging toddlers and infants down to the sand with pack-n-plays and blow up pools to swim team and tennis lessons and playing with their summer friends while I sat and chatted with my in-laws or read.

Certainly not terrible, but kind of mindless and repetitive.

Then the older kids found a social life – along with Four Loko and weed – and were out looking to get it popping 7-nights-a-week. On the heels of all that fun, I went through a divorce and landed a full-time job that kept me busy 24/7. It was relentless, but kind of great, too.

But now that I’m unemployed and the older three kids are busy this summer with internships and part-time jobs, I feel a little adrift just working on my writing each day. And a little guilty.

But then, I came across this quote last night in a book I’m reading called “Spiritual Divorce,” that kind of borrows from AA’s line of thinking about acceptance:

“Without the faith that life is just as it should be, we cannot accept people, places, and things as they are. We will always be trying to change, manipulate, and control the outer world. ”

So I’m trying to embrace where I am, which is really a gift. It’s an opportunity to spend more time with my youngest child – who I’ve spent the last four summers trying to get rid of for work – and concentrate on my writing.  It’s just how this summer is supposed to play out and who knows what will happen next.

In the meantime, the other big news in my life is that – aside from having something I wrote slated to be featured on Scary Mommy in August and another possible local reading in September or October – I am officially obsessed with the new trailer for “Fifty Shades of Grey.” 

I heard the sultry new version of “Crazy In Love” Beyonce recorded for the trailer coming down the hallway from one of the girls’ rooms earlier, and I shouted (from my bed), “Hey! Are you watching Fifty Shades?”

“Yes,” they said in unison.

“OMG I’ve already watched it twice this morning,” I squealed.

“Ew, mom,” my younger one yelled.

“I’m obsessed,” I shouted back, laughing.

“Stop!” she shrieked. “You need help.”

C’mon. I mean, a girl needs a little excitement in her life. Doesn’t she?

Full Nest Syndrome


My all-time favorite New Yorker cartoon says it all.

Lately, I’ve taken to sitting at the head of the big pine table in my kitchen to write, my black-and-white slipcovered chair backed into the bay window that bumps out that back corner of the room. Outside the window over my left shoulder, there’s a tremendous amount of chattering these days coming from the finches who have claimed the white birdhouse that towers above the middle of the garden behind my house.

They’re awfully busy, the little birds, as they flit in and out of their new abode, perched high atop a PVC pipe onto which the vine of a clematis I planted at its base years ago climbs and wraps its tendrils. Soon, my new neighbors will be surrounded by the vine’s big purple flowers, whose tightly closed buds seem be looking up at the birdhouse, their noses pointed in the air, searching for the source of all that chattering.

I’ve noticed that one of the birds is almost defiant as it cranes its upper body out one of the birdhouse holes, chirping aggressively at some unknown predator. He quickly swoops off his ledge and darts back into the yard, only to return with yet another thin twig or piece of debris clutched in its beak to furnish the inside of the birdhouse and prepare for the arrival of its newest family members.


The view from where I sit.

After the long, cold winter sitting in my kitchen surrounded by the quiet of closed windows and school days, May has brought with it a lot of noise and activity, wafting with the warm air through my window screen.

According to my calculations – already a dangerous proposition considering my math skills – I have about 60 hours left of general peace and quiet inside my own house until mid-August. On Wednesday, some time in the early evening, my two college kids will arrive home for summer vacation and the house will be filled once again with debris, defiant chirping and the unpredictable dives and swoops of so many personalities living under one roof.

Prior to their arrival, I’ll be flitting in and out of grocery stores and Costco to make sure our nest is ready for them and stocked with the organic milk and cold cuts I know they like. It makes my little birdies so happy to return home to a Tostito-laden pantry.

Okay, I know, I’ve written about this phenomenon before at some length, my struggle with school breaks. And I also know it pisses my two adult-ish children off, this suggestion that having them home is a bummer or burdensome in some way.

I mean, it is and it isn’t.

What they fail to understand is that it’s not necessarily them, per se, that’s got me so agitated. On the one hand, it’s the addition of extra people who need to be fed, whose laundry needs to be washed and whose personalities need to be managed. And on the other hand, my two oldest children also happen to be the more challenging half of my brood, especially my son. But luckily, their individual Instagram posts to me yesterday for Mother’s Day indicated that they both might know that.

My 20-year-old daughter posted a picture of the two of us mugging for the camera selfie-fish-lips-style at a football game at her school in the fall and wrote, “Thanks for putting up with my crap for 20 years. Love ya ma.”

Plus, she added an emoticon at the end and if you and I have ever texted, you know I’m crazy for emojis. I sprinkle my communication with hearts and the thumbs up signs like a 14 year old.

Her older brother posted a picture of me taken last summer before a “Heroes and Villains” costume party I attended dressed as the less-than-warm-and-fuzzy mother from Arrested Development (black St. John’s knit suit, pearls and my hair in a perfect ladies-who-lunch helmet).

I       I don't understand the question, and I won't respond to it.

Lucille Bluth: I don’t understand the question, and I won’t respond to it.

“Happy Mother’s Day to my very own Lucille Bluth. Putting up with me is a handful but you’ve managed to do it for 21 whole years. God bless. Love you Ma,” he wrote and added to his post the cat with the heart eyes emoji that’s one of my favorites.

Clearly they have the self-awareness to acknowledge that I’ve been “putting up with” a lot of challenges for over the last 20 years.

On the flip side, I missed having those two divas around yesterday to help celebrate Mother’s Day. When the kids were young and I was still married to their dad, Mother’s Day was filled with family. Often, we’d go to church, where other moms would admire my new macaroni necklace or glittery pin, and then to brunch at our beach club, the boys in crisp new chinos and the girls in bright cotton cardigans.

Other years, I’d host a brunch at our house and the kids would run around outside on the thick spring lawn with their cousins while the grown ups milled around the kitchen sipping mimosas.

One year, after my husband had moved out of our house, I flew to Ohio over Mother’s Day weekend to spend time with a good friend while I struggled with whether to end the marriage, and returned home on Sunday for a dinner out at a local pizza place, the six of us crammed in a booth eating garlic knots.

So it was odd to be just me and the two kids still living at home full-time yesterday for Mother’s Day. We went out and hiked for an hour in the woods, which they could not complain about, and then picked up some salads and sandwiches (compliments of my teenager) at our favorite shop nearby and ate sitting around our kitchen island. The kids went outside to play with neighbors and I sat on my bed and read for hours. We showered and went out to an early dinner where we sat by the window overlooking the river and talked about how it was our last weekend of quiet before their siblings returned.

The waiter delivered our drinks and I toasted the end of another peaceful year and we watched a jet ski cut through the river as we raised our glasses to drink.

Here’s the good news: Unlike the summers of long ago, when I would cart the four of them to the beach early each day — our cooler packed with crustless sandwiches and juice boxes — the three older kids will be pretty busy this summer. There are internships, babysitting jobs, classes and the gym to keep them all pretty busy and out of my hair.

And for the first time in a few years, I don’t have to cobble together sports camps and babysitters to farm my youngest guy out while I worked from home during the summer. With no job on the horizon, I get to spend my summer on the beach with him, letting him surf and swim with all his friends in town while I try to get through the tower of books on my nightstand.

I figure that over time, with some of the kids graduating and moving back to the nest after college and others just leaving, all four of the kids will at some point have the opportunity to discover the joy of living in a reduced family. They’ll experience the dinner table set for just two or three people, never having to wait their turn to do laundry and having a quart of milk last longer than one day.

But maybe those birds out back know something I don’t because they really don’t seem to stick around once their nest empties out. One day they’re carrying on, squawking and pooping all over the place, and the next day they’re gone. It’s like they just pull up stakes over night.

I think it’s just going to take a while for me to find out whether they are onto something.