Monday, July 18, 2011

Moving Changes

The changes keep coming. Three days ago my first born moved out of our house for the first time and happily landed in her own apartment. It’s a bit ironic that she’s not the only one packing boxes. We continue to stash things away, getting ready for our own move across the country in a few weeks. It’s our season of change.

My sister texted me the day after my girl moved out. She asked me one simple question. “Was yesterday hard for you?” By then I had survived the first night of her being on her own, in her own grown up living space. It wasn’t an usual feeling, since she often sleeps over at a friend’s house. But just picturing her in the bed I bought for her, across town, in what is now considered her bedroom, just felt odd. Not necessarily sad (yet). Just odd.

I almost laughed out loud as I read my sister’s inquiring text. At the moment I received it I was flanked by situations. On one side I had Sam, telling me in great detail his latest dream, and wanting me to pay attention to every single detail, including hand motions.

On the other side sat our old family dog, sweet as the day is long ,but falling apart quicker than I am, as she passes middle age. She’d been having some troubling doggie symptoms and I knew a call to the vet was imminent. I could only hope it wouldn’t cost more than the balance of my checking account.

I knew that after Sam finished his story, and after the vet was called, there was a list of six other things I needed to get done, including calling Colorado to check in with my significant other, who has been out there for two weeks now. The gravity of this life milestone my daughter had experienced was quickly lost in the craziness of our own life details.

I was more than happy to see my daughter again, as she showed up later that day to pick up some more items from her bedroom. She so lovingly took the time to compliment her littlest brother on how well his personal effects looked in her old room. She hadn’t been gone three hours before he had claimed that big, vacant bedroom as his own. At least for the three weeks he has left in New York.

It was fun to dig through my kitchen cabinets and give her all of the duplicates I’ve collected through the years. Every pasta strainer and mixing bowl that I could give her was one less thing she’d have to buy for herself. This is when it pays off that both of us are moving at the same time. She was thrilled to get my leftovers and I was happy to clean out my stash before the moving truck arrives.

Then she moved on to the kitchen cabinets. As she pulled out her plastic bag and ‘shopped’ from my shelves, picking out spaghetti sauces and rice mixes, it brought back such familiar memories of doing the same thing in my mom’s cabinet, when I would go home to visit her during my college years. It was one of those surreal moments when you ask yourself, “When did I become the mom in this picture?”

And for a brief moment it made me miss my mom terribly, and being able to call and tell her about this moment. One of a million special moments I lost when she died 17 years ago.

My daughter loaded up her car, with boxes of kitchen supplies, bags of clothes, and piles of food, and she drove off. I didn’t let myself dwell on the fact that she was now forever on her own, out of my nest. It’s a day I’ve dreaded since she was a toddler and I realized just how much I enjoyed having her around. Through the years we’ve been the solo girls in the house. When the boys got loud and crazy and stinky, we could just look at each other and know we were not alone in this house full of testosterone.

And now it’s down to just me. Me and this pack of boys. Not that I love them any less. It’s just a different household, when four males sit around the kitchen table. Just as I seem to be guarding my emotions and don’t yet fully feel the loss that happened in my life this week, I cannot even comprehend how the sadness will be compounded when, in just five weeks, we drop off our second child to start his first year of college in a different state.

I’m losing two in two months.

I have no doubt that the tears will fall, when I finally drive away from New York for the last time, knowing my daughter is not tucked in her place in the back of our family van. In fact, I suspect there will be more than tears, there may even be sobs. Everyone in our family is going through huge transitions. Most of them are good.

But that doesn’t mean parts of the process don’t tear out a mother’s heart.

Young adults are supposed to move out and support themselves once high school is over. Young adults very commonly haul their belongings into unknown dormitories and begin their new independent college lives apart from their parents. Lots of dads get new jobs and move their families to new states.

It’s just our family who find it necessary to do it all at the same time.

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