Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Empty-nested on the Lane...

When I arrived at our flat in
Antwerp, I found this mother
bird nesting on her eggs
on our back fire-escape. 
She's a lucky bird,
being a mom is the
best job ever.
This summer was a rush of activity.  Kicking it off, was my older son's college graduation from Washington State University.  Three days of celebration for the culmination of four years of studies.  A few weeks later, our younger son graduated from high school in Connecticut and began preparing for college in Boston, with orientation the next week.  Just after dropping our daughter back at JFK to head home to the west coast, the moving van arrived to pack and load our older son's belongings for his new job in the Southwest.  My kids do everything big, so it made perfect sense to throw in a wedding this summer...my daughter and her husband were married in August, cliffside -- above the Pacific Ocean.  Between all the planning, and zig-zag trips, for the wedding and graduations, and orientations, and college move-outs and move-ins, birthdays (both my husband and I turned 50 this summer)...I was also packing for myself to join my husband full-time in Antwerp where he's been working for the past 18 months.  Once our youngest son was settled at his dorm in Boston, I had less than a week to finish packing whatever I absolutely couldn't live without for the next few months.  And get this...I also prepped and polished and perfected our home in Connecticut to go on the market the day after flying to Belgium.  So, let's review.  Daughter, married.  Middle son, graduated, employed.  Youngest son, graduated, enrolled in college.  House on the market, move to Belgium.  This is all great news.  Oui?  Oui.  But, it also means that my nest is empty, we are downsizing and I live in another country.  I'm not sure if this is how it's supposed to be done.  When birds fly away from the nest, are mother birds supposed to fly the other way?  Well, that's exactly what I've done.  I live on a different continent than all my birds.  I didn't have that first lovely, melancholy week after my youngest left the nest -- of walking into his room to just look around, wistful and teary-eyed.  I was too busy cleaning out his room and turning it into a model home version of itself (it seriously looks great).  I did however, come across old pictures and art projects and term papers that I helped him edit.  I also cleaned out the attic and boxed up what I thought my two eldest might want someday when they have kids.  The rest -- all of it -- in more than 15 trips to the Goodwill, was donated or tossed.  Each room of our home at the end of the lane, is absolutely spotless and arranged like a model home.  I would buy that house in a minute if I was still raising a family and needed lots of space to fill.  There are four levels of finished rooms.  I will miss them all.  My office still sits on the third level (too much hassle with customs to send my desktop, so I write on a laptop here in Europe) with an extra bedroom and even a sitting room.  The second level has four ensuite bedrooms and the main level is where we lived.  Holidays, birthdays, big meals, a rented movie...a good book by the fireplace.  The basement is a teenager's and husband's dream...TV screening room, pool table, air hockey, fitness room, poker table...full bath.  The yard is gorgeous and there's even a carriage house with an extra two car garage and an unfinished studio space.  It's a short walk to town where you can get a cup of coffee or an ice cream cone right on Main Street.  This is the house where everyone wants to hang out, the house where the group prom pictures are taken, the house where the family reunions are held.  It's a great home and one we bought as our nest was beginning to empty.  I wonder now if we subconsciously were trying to hold on to our nest.  Maybe, but not now.  That gorgeous house needs a family, one that is still happily in the nest.  So maybe it's good that I'm in another country, so I don't have to witness fully the marketing of our home, with all the boxes of memories in the attic, memories from all the houses we lived in together as a family.  Our family moved a lot, eight different cities, all over the country, but each house, the laughter and celebrations, big and small moments, were all real and wonderful and will live on forever in my heart.  My nest might be empty now, and I may have even flown the opposite way from my birds...but we'll migrate back to each other for visits...and oh, the stories we'll have to tell.       

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