Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Upside Down Goodbyes
I apologize that this post is a bit out of order. It was written weeks ago and never posted.
This is the longest, most drawn out move we’ve ever made. The last time we moved, I didn’t know to appreciate the circumstances, when all six of us piled in the minivan and pulled out of our driveway in Utah, headed to our new life in New York. We crossed the street to say good bye to our best friends. Last hugs and promises to keep in touch, and then we were off.
We traveled across the country together, and spent three months in a Residence Inn together. Every day we had lots of time together, house hunting and generally exploring this Upstate area. That’s not how it worked out this time.
This time the house didn’t sell and it changed everything. We did everything we were supposed to do. We updated the bathrooms, painted every wall a fresh neutral color, and put half our stuff in storage so every room looked bigger. We looked carefully at comparables in our area and decided on a list price we felt good about.
Then we sat. Week after week, we’ve been sitting. An occasional ‘looker’ here and there, but no offers. As time went on and we became more anxious to move along, we started dropping the price.
We now sit at over thirty thousand below our recent appraisal price and still no hopes of a bite. All this sitting has made this move a whole different experience.
As soon as I finish writing this article, I will jump in the minivan with just my three boys and we’ll drive out to Colorado. I’ll drop them off to stay with their dad. They will start school out there, living in a hotel. I will fly back to New York and wait for the right family to come along and fall in love with our great house.
In the three days that I’m out west, we will drive over the mountain and drop my oldest son off for his freshman year of college in Utah. Add that to the fact our daughter is staying back in New York to begin her independent life, and it makes for a very quiet house once we settle in Colorado. It feels very fragmented, upside down and backward, to be moving in shifts. My husband moved out there on July 5th. The boys will be there August 19. Who knows when I’ll get to join them.
I remember reading a short story in a church bulletin when I was a teenager. It was about a family who had five kids and one went away to college. When the mom would complain about missing him, people would always say to her, “You have four other kids. There are plenty of kids to keep you busy!” Her response - “Five minus one does not equal plenty. I miss that one.”
This story made an impression on me because my oldest sister had just left for college and, although I had three other siblings left at home, I missed the essence of her.
And now I get that story from a mom’s perspective. But my math is more drastic. Four minus two equals a practically empty house. No one will sit in the third row of seats in the van anymore. We won’t have to look for booths at restaurants. It might actually be affordable to take the kids out to the movies on a Friday night. But I will never stop feeling like two of us are ‘missing’.
I’m starting to feel like my neighbor. She’s five weeks away from having her baby.
I’m two weeks away from having mine leave the nest.
Her life will drastically change once that baby arrives. Her relationship with her husband and her young daughter will change. There are no guarantees that they will all be good changes.
I know our family dynamic is also changing. Two brothers who used to be under the authority of an older brother will have to find a new way of relating to each other. They might like the new changes, or it might be a bumpy road.
Just like my neighbor will walk into a hospital in a few weeks and walk out a few days later to begin her new life, in two weeks I’ll be moving boxes of my son’s dearest possessions into a dorm room then driving away without him. My new life, as the full time mom to only two boys will officially begin. My older sister warned me that she cried when she went through this last year. Not just cried. She sobbed. “As hard as I did when mom died…” were her exact words. I don’t look forward to that.
But it’s a necessary step in life. I’m thrilled that my son has found a school he is excited about and a degree path he can’t wait to jump into. I’m proud of him for not being a bit scared about moving into a dorm full of strangers, in a new state, and making new friends. All the moves, and being ‘the new kid’ have taught him that there are always friends waiting to meet you, if you just show up. And in two weeks he plans to show up.
His mama will be fine. I’ll have the distraction of getting the house sold and the household belongings moved across the country. By the time we settle in a new house in Colorado it will practically be Thanksgiving, and I’ll get to see him again.
We’ll be settled and established in a new place, a place where he has no memories and no bedroom. But I’ll do my best to still make it feel like home.
Because no matter where he roams, he knows there will always a place at home for him.