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Myra Demeter

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Are We Empty Nesters Yet?

Posted: 06/05/2012 9:21 am

I love all four of my sons dearly! I just can't quite figure out if I am happy they haven't left home. To be absolutely honest, some of them have, but all their "stuff" is still here and when they do return, it is rarely alone -- an entourage of fraternity brothers, girlfriends and canine companions accompanies them. The house is turned upside down, and suddenly it is busy and crowded. It's also fun!

My eldest son, Ron, tells everyone that he doesn't live with us. He lives 20 feet away from our home in our garage apartment, which we affectionately call "the guesthouse." It's a fully equipped one-bedroom apartment, and it took him years to move in there. He even gave himself a "housewarming party" and then didn't move in. Each semester he would return from college and move back into his childhood bedroom. Normally this would not be an issue, but his younger brother Guy shared a room with our youngest son, Roy. Each time Ron would leave for a semester of college, Guy would move out of the bedroom he shared with Roy and into Ron's room. When Ron returned at the end of the semester, Guy would have to move back to his shared room. Finally we told Ron that the next time he returned from college, he was to go directly down the driveway to the "guesthouse" and not to enter the house. It was equipped with a new carpet, Internet service, a TV, and a double bed, and he finally decided it was OK to live there. He soon discovered it was a great place to retreat to when Mom asked any questions.

Our second son, Gil never came home after college. He went to UC Berkeley and then crossed the Oakland Bridge, moved to San Francisco and then down to San Diego. Unfortunately his "stuff" didn't move with him. He was an avid sportsman, and his soccer and basketball paraphernalia, trophies, uniforms, photos, files, books and assorted computers still occupy his room. Originally we thought of converting his room into our personal workout space, but instead we enjoy it as a retreat -- complete with a leather chair and TV that didn't accompany our son on his moves. He visits occasionally, and when he comes, he brings our grandpuppy. We love our grandpuppy dearly, but our cats do not, so we keep them separated and let them take turns roaming the house.

Our third son, Guy, appears at our home infrequently. He spent four years in Chicago at college, and each time he returned home to L.A., he flew with one piece of hand luggage -- a laptop computer. After college he moved cross-country to D.C., and now when he visits he brings only an iPad. For the week each year that he visits us, he wears whatever he left behind when he moved out two years ago. To this son the important things are the electronics he uses and they will always be up to date.

Our fourth son will be graduating from college in a week, and we expect he will be returning home from Chicago where he is completing his degree. We will begin buying gallons of milk again instead of quarts. We'll buy bunches and bunches of bananas for the monkeys (oops, sons) who live with us. We will stock the refrigerator each day and find it empty in the morning. Cereal boxes will line the pantry shelves, but we won't know they're empty till we open them -- same thing with the cookie boxes. And I'll go back to marking the vodka bottle.

Our body clocks are in reverse -- he is active at night and goes out as we are preparing for bed. Once again we'll be sleep deprived, listening with one ear for him to return in the wee hours of the morning. House alarms, phone calls, and conversations will pepper the night, and there will be friends in and out of our home all night.

The toilet seat will be up when I go to use the facilities in the middle of the night, and I will walk around the house turning off lights. The wash will increase exponentially, and we'll go through toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins in a flash.

The college years are over, and while I did enjoy the peace and quiet of the (almost) empty house, I am sure looking forward to having my youngest son home again! I know it won't be for long and I don't have to worry. Although he too will eventually move on and out, all his "stuff" will be here keeping me company.

 
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