Life changes on a dime. Take this weekend, for example. We will go from being two empty nesters to a party of seven.
By my calculations our nest was empty for roughly three years, four months, two days and ten seconds. But who’s counting?
I come from a long line of women who do not suffer empty nest syndrome. My mother said if either my brother or I tried to cling to the nest, she would step on our hands. It was an amicable parting. We spread our wings and she cheered to see us fly.
As for me, I grew teary eyed each time I set one less placemat on the table, but I was no fool. I knew they still had house keys.
One day we were down to two placemats on the table and I realized I enjoyed lengthening the leash that had tethered me to the kitchen.
The only women who laugh and act like they’re having a party when they cook are the women on television. I don’t fault them. If someone cleaned up my mess and did all the dirty dishes, I’d be laughing and partying, too.
Now the woman who often has a bowl of cereal for dinner when the husband is working nights, will be cooking again. Five birds are coming home to roost. The situation is temporary and it is coincidental that they are returning at the same time.
The daughter with two-year-old twins and an infant is coming for several weeks while her husband starts a new job out east and they secure housing.
Another daughter will be married in several months and has relinquished the lease on her apartment. Potty training, baby drool and bride-to-be jitters all under one roof.
It will be a cacophony. Loud, but good. It is the unpredictability of life, with all the unexpected detours and bends in the road that make it rich.
We will have to keep the television down after 8 and schedule use of our own washer and dryer. We won’t have to check the expiration date on the milk anymore and bananas won’t turn brown as they will be eaten as fast as we can buy them.
I’ve cleaned out dresser drawers that gradually have been filled with odds and ends and jammed things in closets. Fortunately, I’ve learned from the daughter who is a teacher that you can always pack more in a fixed space by stacking things higher. If push comes to shove we may have to stack the kids.
I’ve also learned that you don’t ask a lot of questions of adult children. The inquisition years have passed. You don’t need to know what route they plan on taking, who was on the phone or precisely what time they’ll be home.
I imagine I’ll be sending myself to my room a lot, and not just for punishment for slipping and asking too many questions. I work from home and am one of those odd ducks who need quiet. Equipped with cell phone, internet and laptop, my office is portable. If it’s still too loud to work in our bedroom, maybe I can clear more space on a closet shelf.
Bring on the chaos.