Each time one of our three children have gone off to seek their fortune living on their own, friends would warn us, “Empty Nest Syndrome” is going to hit you. They opined, “You’ll get lonely, you’ll have pangs of nostalgia, the sounds of silence throughout your house will make you lonesome and blue. Ha, I’m still waiting! It has been one year since our youngest and last cherub moved out on his own seeking a new apartment.
Friends ask us all the time, “How are you so successful at getting your children to be independent and move out?” They add, “Our kids never plan to leave.” I tell them, the little secret is walking around the house in nothing but Underoos. You know, the comic strip print themed underwear meant for 4 year olds? Just so you know, it works like a charm. Nothing says its time to hit the road more than seeing Mom and Dad sitting at the breakfast table proudly wearing Snoopy and SpongeBob intimates.
Today our son called, he said words I have waited to hear since our first child left home. He said, “I want all my things at home delivered to my new apartment.” I couldn’t tell you what else he said. The rest of the conversation was a blur. I grabbed my wife in an excitable bear-hug, kissed her breathlessly and jumped up and down. Puzzled she asked, “Did we win something?” I was giddy I said, “It’s better than that! Our last child wants ALL his stuff back.”
As the reality of the moment sunk in, our minds raced forward. Our spare bedroom could finally be reclaimed from our son’s cast off furniture and decorations. The room that for so long had all the charm of a yard sale, could finally be restored to its original intent and glory.
As I quickly lapsed back into the conversation, I asked my son the specifics of his request. He then dropped this bombshell. He only wanted good furniture, our furniture, our personal television, and his winter clothes. “Everything else,” he said nonplussed, “Could be given to Goodwill for all I care.”
Hearing these words was like waking up on your own personal episode of “Hoarders” only to realize you were given the wrong address. You really did live in the clean house next door. I ask myself, when did my son have the epiphany that his stuff has always had the value of a cereal decoder ring?
Before he could change his mind, I hung up the phone and we set out in a loaded pick up truck and brought him everything he asked. Today, we traded away our empty nest syndrome for empty house syndrome.
As we left his new home, we hugged him and told him we loved him. No words of thanks needed to be spoken. Sometimes seeing your own junk in the rear view mirror is all the thanks you need. My empty nest is finally empty, I’m glad it made him full.