It's relatively easy to write a book about the empty nest when you have a quiet house all to yourself. It's less easy, however, when you are trying to write such a book and you have two children who have boomeranged back home for the summer. Which is what I did. When I wrote Beyond The Mommy Years, during the spring and summer of 2006, my son had just returned from his first year of college. He declared himself a waiter, but unfortunately there were no restaurants who agreed with his announcement. Eventually, he was hired two days a week as a busboy at a cheesy local bar/restaurant. He parlayed this part-time job into a full-time one at a very fancy country club, only to be fired after three weeks. The rest of the summer, he moped. The rest of the summer, I wrote, while also grinding my teeth with irritation. My daughter returned home that summer, too, after spending a year living in the Dominican Republic and in Buenos Aires. Exhausted from a prolonged case of sleep deprivation, culture shock, and some kind of intestinal bacteria, she slept until 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. every day, waking up to ask for a meal, the name of which we never quite determined. (Breakfast? Lunch? Early dinner?) It was only because I was working on an incredibly tight deadline that I managed to finish this book at all. The summer ended; both children left for college; I turned in my book manuscript. Finally, it was quiet. I was alone in the house-with my dog and my husband-ah, blessed relief!