I’ve often heard of the empty nest—in fact, I dreaded it for years. But now that it’s nearly here (I still have one offspring home from college for summer vacation) it seems that the empty nest is not nearly as empty as I expected. In fact, I have more “stuff” than ever!
There are reasons (and excuses) for this, of course. For one thing, kids coming and going over the years have brought a lot more stuff into the house than I could have imagined. Instead of those cute little Legos and Matchbox cars, for instance, I now have closets full of mammoth architectural models (impressive, but terrible dust collectors) and an inordinate number of shoes (being a shoe-lover myself, I can’t really fault anyone on this). But with rugby, running, and other sports come cleats and other various forms of footwear. Books and papers are also a problem—and always have been. And then there are hair creams, gels, and lotions, Sonicare toothbrushes (the old kind certainly took up less space), computers, and –in spite of the fact that the US Postal Service may be going broke—tons and tons of mail.
When my children were little I used to be able to at least see the surface of my kitchen table on occasion. But now it’s so loaded with huge tubs of protein powder and other curious substances (oh—did I forget to mention the weights in various shapes and sizes?), that it’s hard to find space to put a plate down in order to eat a meal.
Do I sound like I’m complaining? Really, I’m not. It’s just that no one ever warned me of this when I had kids (just like they didn’t really warn me about the pain of childbirth). “Oh, you’ll be fine,” I remember my mother saying with a knowing smile.
Yes, everyone always warned that I’d be sad when my kids left home, and they were right. But they neglected to tell me that kids would leave so much stuff in their wake. And they neglected to tell me that my own life would become so full once my kids were gone that I can hardly find spaces for everything. Because with the kids gone I have a lot more time to read hundreds of books, write hundreds of pages, and yes, drag home even more shoes.
Empty nest? Not so much.