Two years ago I was living in this house with three other people, all male; one husband, two sons.
Eighteen months ago I was still living with three people, now two male and one female; one husband, one son, one daughter.
A year ago, I began living with just two people, one male, one female and both under the legal drinking age.
Beginning next week I will be living with just one other person…the daughter I didn’t quite know I had.
And then there were two.
I have been thinking a lot about Harrison’s upcoming departure for his freshman year in college. I have considered the up, down, front and sideways of the new dynamic as I am all too aware of how it changes no matter who you take out of the equation. There are pros and cons to his departure, but, not surprisingly, I am far more focused on the cons. (Have you met me?)
To be perfectly clear, I am thrilled for Harrison and have all confidence in his ability not only to launch but to thrive. It has not been easy living in these parts for the past few years and his resilience (and healthy dose of anger) will serve him well in all that he strives to accomplish. He has had no choice but to go with the flow and adapt to situations over which he has had absolutely no control or input. (I like to think of this as exceptional parenting in terms of preparing him for dorm life.) And, with the notable exception of the past few weeks, he has been a dream in the process. (Explanation: in his undying quest to successfully separate, he has done pretty much everything in his power to be a gigantic pain in the ass, thereby paving the way for a much easier goodbye.)
I am acutely aware of the obvious changes that lay ahead. For starters, the quantity and specifics of food I will need to purchase (orange soda and Chex Mix come to mind) will decrease dramatically. There will be no more afternoons or evenings during which my family room/basement/backyard are full with young men and women with voracious appetites for all things sweet and/or salty. I will not walk into the kitchen and be met with a pile of shoes of various shapes, sizes and aromas belonging to kids who seem to have hollow legs into which they deposit endless amounts of food. No, now it will be just me and Jess. Technically, I could buy nothing other than milk and Spaghettios and she would be happy. For me, I can do a daily stop at a salad bar and all would be right with the world. The cash savings will be immense.
There will be less laundry, fewer cars in the driveway and more space for my Bravo shows on the DVR. There will be no more boys in the house…just us girls. Who will mow the lawn and plow the snow? Who will clean the kitty box (better question: who will be reminded repeatedly to clean the kitty box and still not do it until way after it should be done)? Who will plunge the toilet when it is, um, bigger than I can deal with? Who will run out for milk when I forget to buy it…again. Who will indulge me by explaining what ails my computer, iPod, Kindle, cell phone or car? Who will schlep the crap from my trunk to my kitchen? And who will give hugs when no one else will?
I have adjusted to changes in the makeup of my home before. I can do it again. I have learned to share my hair accessories, nail polish and the occasional article of clothing which no mom of boys said ever. I have gotten (ever so) slightly closer to figuring out what exactly makes Jess tick. I have learned when to quietly wander up to my room and shut the door and when to go to the mat. I have successfully gone from three to two…certainly I can move from two to one.
It is a different kind of empty nest. It is a changed nest, really. Harrison will be part way through medical school before Jessie even heads to college. We have seven years to establish a new rhythm and groove. And then she will leave and I will be just one.
My house has migrated from four to three to two. It is going to be an adjustment for sure…but I can do this.