Monday, June 6, 2016

The Emptying Nest: Packing Up The Years

My son is a minimalist. The first year he left for the summer to be a camp counselor, he forgot his sleeping bag and slept with his beech towel for covers. When he left for college, he could pack all he needed in his little Honda Civic, while our daughter needed the entire family van. But this time, he's moving out for the last time, and it was just different as he and his fiancé began packing up his room.

It was like seeing his childhood in review. Favorite books: he asked to take Goodnight Moon. Then it was the chest of stuffed animals, the recalling of each of their names, where he'd gotten them, who'd given them, and how he'd slept with them.

Then it was the Harry Potter wand that was found in the closet, and him telling his sister to get hers. And they struck poses and quoted the best lines of movies with a glint of childish glee still fresh in their eyes.

I handed over financial files, car repair receipts, and college loan PIN numbers. I dumped a pile of storage bins, packing tape, collapsed cardboard boxes, Sharpies (because every packing task needs great Sharpies), then left him and his fiancé to the packing of the years.

I curled up across the upstairs hallway on my daughter's bed while she sorted piles of college boxes and clothes. I listened while she bemoaned the simple ambivalence of growing up--wanting to move onward without sacrificing the best of a grand childhood that now seems so sacred and too quickly coming to a close. She referenced her feelings with the lines from Anne of Green Gables, when Anne is afraid to move onward and mistakenly refuses Gilbert's proposal as she hangs between childhood and the verge of a new horizon.

Just as we sighed over the sweetness of it, my son marched into her room and held out his hand to announce he was returning her diary key that he'd held in safe keeping all these years....

"That key is so old I don't remember..." A delayed response ensued. "Wait, you read my diary?!"

Giggles erupted.

While her brother has been away, our daughter has been happy to possess the entire bathroom this summer and yelled loudly when he locked the door behind him--"leave it as you found it!!" That old childhood I'll-kill-you-if-you-don't edged her twenty-two year old voice.

Snapping pictures of my daughter's room, I wanted to remember these precious moments.
In marched our son's fiancé to announce to our daughter "he's going to come give you some change in Euros for your Ireland trip and ask for something in return--don't give it to him!!" A little youthful I-can't-believe-he-had-your-diary-key laced her imperative and a new sisterly bond was cemented.

Alas, the boxes were packed. Pizza and ice cream were eaten.
Finally all the lights were out on packing night.

This morning my husband and I surveyed their progress. 
Years of childhood sat in boxes in the corner of his room.
Is that all he packed? My husband asked.

It seemed like more. 
Much much more.
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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    I HATED the "Packing of Life" stuff. HATED it.

    1. It was sweet for me. I keep focusing on the emptying nest, filling up. It will be full, just of different people and things and memories.

    2. But I know it's tough for so many moms.

  2. He did pack. He packed many many memories too large to fit in a box.


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