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Two of my sons moved out of my house last weekend. They had been there only temporarily, one for a few months and one for a few weeks, as they searched for a place to live. I had been the stopgap, which I was only too happy to do. Your kids are your kids are your kids, regardless of how old they (and you) get, and when it comes to my kids, I am a sucker. I have a hard time following my own advice. I have a hard time saying no.
But I must admit when moving day arrived, I was the first one up. I was as excited as they were. Maybe more. I love my boys, and they are relationally quite easy to live with. But their stuff and their schedules, well that’s a different story. I don’t know if it is good or bad, all I know is I do better, feel better, work better when I am surrounded with order. Maybe I got that from my dad, by nature and nurture. Maybe order gives me a false sense of control. Whatever its genesis, it is in me.
And I have missed it. I haven’t demanded that the rooms they occupied be kept in any certain fashion. I knew this arrangement would be short lived and that unmade beds and clothes on the floor were part of the package. I knew I was giving up my garage for their storage. I knew that clothes would not be washed until there were no clean clothes left to wear and I am all too familiar with the fragrance of unwashed boys and their clothes.
Just to top off the fun, one of the two sons (fortunately the one who was only there a few weeks) came with a dog. A big dog. With a big crate. That sat in my living room. That drank water, part of which went up the wall beside his bowl and part of which he drooled on the floor as he walked away from the bowl. That jumped on the sofa and beds. (I already have a small dog of my own that does that.) And as I was “cleaning up” after him in my oh-so-small patio, the words of my son when I expressed concern about said dog living with me, were ringing in my ears. Mom, this is no big deal. Don’t make it bigger than it is. Yeah, right.
Hence my excitement as I watched the garage empty and the bedroom floors reappear and the quiet return to the house. And yet . . . And yet . . . And yet this day that I had so looked forward to, as with most things with my children, was most bittersweet. As they drove away, I was sad. No more six foot plus men leaning over to kiss me good-bye. No more shared morning cups of coffee. No one to wake me up on the sofa and tell me it was time to go to bed. No more impromptu conversations, conversations that would not have happened apart from their presence in my house. No one to make me laugh. And no more big dog (pony) to slobber his affection all over me.
When the kids were babies and I discovered a baby food they liked, I would stock up. And then they wouldn't like it anymore. Motherhood is a state of constant transition. Of constantly balancing conflicting emotions. Of constantly holding close and letting go, grieving the loss of what was so as to be able to embrace what will be. When my kids were little, I used to think that this was the best time of my life and the worst time of my life. I wanted it to last forever and I couldn’t wait for it to end. And now I say, I love it when they come and I love it when they go. Joy and heartache inextricably mixed.