Friday, September 6, 2013

Before the storm

You know what is weird? When you spend a year being all hyper-focused on the fact that this is your oldest child's last year at home (well, last year living at home full time...hopefully...or at least until he graduates college...again, hopefully...and moves back home because the job market stinks for all those poor 20 somethings with their college educations and nowhere to go)...anywhooo... What is weird is when you get through all the stuff. The Senior Thesis, the College Applications, the re-taking of SAT's, the College Acceptances, the College Decision, the Prom, the Graduation, the strange summer after graduation when they are not really kids not really adults (I call it the 'Are You Still Here?' summer) survive all of that in preparation for the big goodbye and then....they don't leave.

At least not yet.

A lot of kids have already said their goodbyes. I know that. But that's what is adding to the weirdness around our household. Jack's chosen university is on the quarter system which generally means they start later in the fall and finish later in the spring. However, I have yet to hear of too many schools that start as late as Jack's does this year. He doesn't even move into his dorm until September 26. Three. More. Weeks. If I wasn't in possession of a university calendar myself I might start to wonder if Jack was trying to pull one over on us.

I feel like we have been ripping off a particularly sticky bandaid one millimeter at a time for the past 6 months.

It's not that I want him gone, don't get me wrong. He's not making this difficult or challenging or annoying. I mean, it wouldn't kill me if he wanted to step up his efforts around the house but even at that I have noticed him taking more initiative in small ways to help with basic household maintenance and taking responsibility for himself. Just yesterday he informed me he was working on washing all of his clothes and figuring out what he wants to take with him and what needs to be given away.

Rock on, big guy.

Rooney says, "Jack, please don't go."

There is a bizarre little expression I have been hearing in my neck of the woods over the past 6 months. I have no idea if this is some sort of well-known metaphor or if it is oddly indigenous to our area but here it is:

In reference to the tension that can sometimes exist between children poised to leave home (but still at home) and their parents, I have heard more than one of my friends say, "They have to soil the nest a little so you'll be ready for them to fly."

I don't know about you but that imagery just makes me go, ewwwww.

I personally think it's a disgusting way to explain the conundrum of a child with one foot in and one foot out, but I also imagine that for many parents it not only rings true but brings some relief. It's always helpful when our children are making us bonkers to be able to step back and view it from a more removed, philosophical vantage point. If we can say, "Ahhh! It's a natural stage of development. Perfectly normal. This too shall pass..." we can save ourselves from going down that dark pathway of, "AAACK!! WHAT IN THE HE&! IS WRONG WITH MY KID!!!"

I gotta say, I prefer the former to the latter.

So, I get the reason for the metaphor and I'm even sympathetic to why the imagery might strike some parents as frighteningly accurate, I just can't relate. And when I say I can't relate it is not in some smug, "Why, MY child would never be so awful/inconsiderate/out of control/rude...!" Ha. Please. I have never claimed anywhere at anytime in anyplace to have perfect children NOR to be the perfect parent. And I never will because 1) I really try not to willfully go around breaking commandments, including the 9th one and 2) all you'd have to do is meet my kids or peek in their bedrooms and the jig would be up.

I can't relate because for whatever reason (and I claim no responsibility) Jack is neither literally (thank goodness) nor figuratively "soiling the nest" during his final days living at home full time. He actually seems remarkably content. Which is either great or cause for concern but since I don't have much control either way, I'm going with staying neutral. He doesn't seem unhappy about leaving, but he doesn't seem unhappy about his extended stay either.

We are all of us in limbo. The other kids have started school, they leave in the morning and return in the afternoon and in the in-between time Jack does laundry, occasionally does some car detailing work for people, and gives careful consideration to what he will have for lunch everyday.

I like to think he is just pacing himself. He's enjoying the calm before the storm. The storm could either be awesome or it could be dreadful and there is no way for him to know. So, he's just sitting back, enjoying his bedroom, his easy access to chips and salsa, and maybe even his family before it all hits.

Smart kid. I should take a lesson from him.


  1. Enjoy it. We were wearing hip waders around here there was so much soiling.

    1. Awesome. Thank you for the perspective (and adding to the already disgusting imagery in my head). You make me laugh. :)

  2. Great perspective, we're in the same boat till the 21st. No "soiling" going on here, I figure what's the point. I'm just getting more excited and happy for all our futures. I do tear up (for a bit) when I think back on all the fun times (many with you all) (the not so fun tears) maybe I need to dwell more on those times like; late night feedings, wetting the bed, trips to the hospital....yep, no tears welling up now. All the best, congratulations on your 1st launch! xo LO