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On a chilly December morning

My house is full again, now that both girls are home for the holiday break. Maggie arrived here on Saturday, and we picked Sara up at the airport last night. The girls won't stay here all the time, of course, but just now, they are here, and I find myself with a mix of thoughts that don't all fit comfortably together. For instance, I am enjoying the morning quiet, and dreading the noise when they start bouncing around the house, just as I am looking forward to it. Even now, the first rustlings have given way to showers and conversation upstairs, reinforcing the knowledge that other people are in the house. I find I have settled well into my empty nest, and now that it is full again, I find that I resent and welcome the regained fullness, in nearly equal parts.

I know that's not a fashionable position to disclose, as I read news and Facebook posts from other empty nesters who uniformly rejoice in having their children return home, and become dismayed at the mere thought that it's only for a few weeks or a month. (In my case, it's one of each - Sara goes back to Charleston in just under two weeks, whereas Maggie stays home until mid-January.) But it is my reality, and so I share it with you. If you feel something similar, whether you say so publicly or not, know that you're not alone. If nobody else feels this way, then I suppose it's just me. But at the moment, the rustlings and conversation upstairs have given way to raucous comments and loud music that I would not choose to listen to given my own preferences, pushing its way throughout the house, making it much more difficult to string together sentences than it should be, and it remains my reality.

At the same time, I realize that this holiday is bittersweet--a "last" holiday, of sorts. I plan to list the house for sale sometime early in 2014, so there will not be a next Christmas here for the kids (who celebrate Christmas, even though I am a Chanukah girl). Already, there is less furniture in the house than they remembered, and two more pieces are likely to leave while they are here. There is a sort of underlying sense of loss that is so far not being actively discussed, the elephant shuffling foot to foot in every room.

But while they are home, they will have to make some decisions. Which of their books to keep, and which to donate. Do they want to keep those tropies? These toys? That ceramic piece they painted when they were five? And do they want any of the artwork I'm getting rid of, to put in their own homes some day? And if there is a particular piece of furniture they want that I am not planning on moving, can they convince their dad or someone else to store it for them?

These are not decisions that they are planning on having to make, I'll warrant. The actual mechanics of moving are lost on them, since they have moved only once that they remember, from a condo to this house, when Sara was in kindergarten and Maggie was in preschool. So long ago that their memories are a bit hazy. They don't really recall much about what came before this house, although they both seem to be fine with the idea of me selling it. Then, too, they've shown little interest in where I am moving to, but I can tell they aren't planning to consider it their home. I am finding ways to be at peace with that.

Conflicting thoughts, as I said. But at the moment, the song blaring from upstairs, though unfamiliar, is something I like, and the girls are planning their day together, and I find I am happy that they are here after all. There will be silence again soon enough.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Amy Elizabeth VanSyckel-Peare
Dec. 16th, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
You aren't alone. This past year, I've been finding myself surprised at myself, looking forward to the days of the empty nest when Iain and Josie are ready to spread their wings and be their own people. I think some of us have an easier time embracing changes than others do. It doesn't mean we love our kids less, just that when the natural changes come to a family, we are a little more ready to let go. And that's easier for the kids as they grow.
Dec. 17th, 2013 01:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Amy. I have to say that I like your take on it. And I agree - I feel like I love my kids plenty. I'm very happy to watch them fledge and fly, though. As someone once said, if you've parented properly, you end up raising independent adults who don't really need you anymore. If that's true, I guess I've parented well, or at least well enough!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 17th, 2013 01:52 pm (UTC)
I love the quiet. Didn't realize how much until it was taken away. In fact, it's one of the things I love about my sweetheart -- how he's happy with quiet. And he's not a loud person, either - he speaks at normal decibel levels and has been known to startle me at various times and places because I didn't hear him coming. (Ninja skills!) It works really, really well for me!

And I agree with you - my folks moved when I was in college, and the new house never really felt like home, nor did any of their other houses after that. They were/are all "my parents' house", and not home. I moved so many times as a kid that I got used to it, even though I disliked it. I'm sure my kids will get over it, too, but worry that it might be tougher on them than they think.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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