September 20, 2016

Week Three of the Empty Nest

We dropped the girls off on Labor Day. Two weeks yesterday. This is week three.

It was my idea not to pick up or see the girls until three weeks in. I felt they needed to get settled, get used to their familiar, yet unfamiliar surroundings, once again. David and I needed to take a deep breath and reclaim the house—and our sanity.

As anyone who has packed up children for college can tell you, it’s a never-ending ordeal. And the lists! No matter how organized you are, you’re bound to miss something on the list.

This year, Amanda moved into a single room in a suite of ten rooms. It has plenty of space, good light, and the building is near all of her academic buildings. But the extra-long twin sheets we had to buy for her Freshman dorm wasn’t going to work on her new double bed. We split up—Amanda and I kept unpacking, while David and Kate went off in search of decent sheets 30 minutes away.

And then there’s the emotional unpacking. What will this school year be like? Will I like where I live? Never mind the ordeal of leaving behind all of the things that bring you comfort, grounding, support. The first day of school (or anything) is the first day of school, regardless of how old you are. There’s a mixture of fear and excitement that sends your stomach into somersaults and addles the brain. For the parents, too.

The group texts began the moment one was dropped off and the other was on her way. Last minute things we weren’t able to get were added to a list or became the responsibility of the one left behind.

Thankfully, the girls have found their footing.

Kate is understandably exhausted—teaching full-time with a full load of classes each week—but she loves the school she’s been placed at, the children, and the teachers. She gets to walk through parts of the city that were once only explored for fun. We envy those walks every time she Snapchats a picture of another mouth-watering pastry, imagining the delicious smells that waft through the neighborhood.

To say Amanda loves her room is a vast understatement. The deep blue accent wall matches her bedding perfectly. And her room is always clean, clean, clean. Something she couldn’t quite pull off last year with her messy roommate underfoot. She hit a snag when she had to add/drop a class, but it’s all good. Her suite has a kitchen, so she’s cooking for herself for the first time.

For us…well, the house is very clean. We purged and organized our basement, I’ve been deep-cleaning closets and cabinets, and we’ve managed to tackle a few outdoor projects. The list of things to do will always remain a list, but you get the idea.

We’re managing.

It’s hard to let go each year. No matter how much practice I have under my belt, each year is different. Each year brings new challenges. And each year, as they both get older, brings reality closer to the surface.

But, no matter how much grumbling I do (and I do a lot) before, during, and after, I have to remember to take a deep breath, stop my whining, count my lucky stars, and cherish this time.


Kerri said...

The struggle continues. I feel your pain...and your new-found sense of being a couple again. Strange how this how parenting thing works.

Anonymous said...

A very nice essay. I've been through this and it's a big deal. And each year it was a big deal.

Enjoy the blog.


Kimberly Merritt said...

Thank you, ladies, for your comments. And thank you for reading.