Empty, N’est-ceas?

Lara McKnight

It finally happened. Our third child has flown the nest, leaving his lonely little sister at home as the single remaining object of our attention and affection. (She’s already asked him if he has a room she can rent.)This Other Woman here has been so excited – washing my towels in scented detergent again (the perfumes make him itch), running around the house without a bra, and envisioning life with an actual “spare” bedroom … but the process hasn’t been a clean break and my nest isn’t really empty – it’s actually a bit of a mess.
The move has taken him a great distance – three whole blocks away – to a house that needs quite a bit of work, so the “moving out” part has been rather slow. His dad and I wandered down to help pull up carpet, rip out 40-year-old contact paper, and scrape up linoleum hoping to hasten the transition of his belongings. Thanks to the thick glue residue on the floor, I was stuck in his kitchen for a couple of days, so I also organized bins and canisters and turntables with his all of his fancy spices. I finally managed to peel up my flip-flop and get out of there.
The first couple of kids hit their eject button at 18, with #2 exiting the Chez ON the afternoon of her 18th birthday. However, #3 decided that, unlike his predecessors, he was in no hurry to move out and would rather save the rent money and buy a house. For the last several years, I’ve been fielding the comments from well-meaning family and friends (“If you ever sell your house, tell the new owners it comes with a built-in squatter!”) and reiterating that he’ll move out when the time is right … followed by a quick sign of the Cross for good measure.
There has been plenty of time for me to save up all sorts of furniture, dishes, and geegaws to set up his household – my garage has been like a hope chest of sorts. When I cheerfully began to list this inventory for him, he put his arm around me and said, “Uh, thanks, Mom. But that’s not really the style I’m going for … I’ll just buy new stuff.”
“Wait, what? You don’t need this ugly lamp, my mis-matched butter-container version of Tupperware, or the coffee table shaped like a surfboard? What am I going to do with all of this stuff?” I looked at his younger sister. “Don’t look at me – I’m not going to want it either!” She’s no help.
Suddenly emptying my nest took on a whole new meaning – just because the kids are leaving doesn’t mean that all this stuff is going with them. The horror!

I turned to my handy social media marketplace for help. So far, I’ve netted a tidy sum by unloading the coffee table, several chairs, a few dishes, and our unused hot tub, which I referred to in my ad as a “cauldron of contrived closeness” – hey, somebody bought it. Another couple of sold items and one last trip to the donation station and I may actually be able to park a car in my garage again!
Still, his departure is bittersweet. Moments like this give me pause and I reflect on the velocity of raising littles into bigs. It just went by so fast … so for this part of it to go a little more slowly is okay with me. And he is only three blocks away … in a house that will soon be freshly remodeled and filled with stylish new furniture and fixtures.
Shoot, maybe I should see if he’ll rent ME a room!

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