The house will fill tomorrow. SK's Thanksgiving vacation begins about 10am tomorrow when she packs 4 other students with her in her little Subaru (who she calls Gladys, by the way), and they journey across the state to our northwest corner. And right as we're unbuttoning our jeans after the feast on Thursday, trying to nap through the Cowboys' clobbering of our Seahawks, J will be cleaning out his apartment, and moving his 'stuff' back into the little room he affectionately calls "the cell" across the hall from E's residence in our house.
Last year, Beve and I had a taste of what it'll be like when we're empty-nesters. After the first rather miserable weeks, when our conversations revolved around which of our children we'd talked to during the day, we settled into a comfortable routine and discovered, much to our delight, that we really do like each other, that we have plenty to say to each other that doesn't involve our offspring, and this new way of being wasn't half-bad. Sure, Beve ripped out our bathroom, beginning a remodeling project that took a whole year. Sure, we still marked time between their visits and between their phone calls, but there was something sweet about our rhythm together. We didn't have long years of being two before we were three. We became expectant parents a mere five months after our wedding, and hands-holding-our-first-child parents just two months after our first anniversary (which you surely realized if you can actually do math). Three children in three and a half years followed, so most of our learning curve in marriage was related to being Mama and Daddy. There were moments when I wished for time alone with my Beve, moments when I coveted the long pre-children relationships of some of our friends. But I wouldn't have given up these three children for it.
But there's no question that I've waited for the time we'd have when our children were raised. Even as much as I love them, even as much as they're my favorite people on earth, I've imagined the time when we'd be free to travel, to be accountable only to/for each other. I looked forward to the days when they'd be adults, wise and interesting, and living out the lives God meant for them. I could hardly wait for what He had for them...
But along came the downturn in the economy--a perfect storm moment for our kids, showing up at exactly the moment E was ready to find her first career job. Bleakly, she looks at the reduced number of posted jobs in her field and knows she's not quite qualified for any of them. So she hands out her glittering resume to retailers, full of the amazing jobs she's already held in her chosen field, and she discovers that she's also underqualified in sales. She's steady as a person comes, but feels discouraged by the prospects.
And also bleakly, our son faced the reality that with reduced hours at his job, due to the slump in the economy, and his need to save so he can go on to graduate school, he told us he needed to move home. Of course, we told him. He didn't want to, dreads it (Mom knowing all his business? Of course he shudders at the thought.), but we'll manage. I'll ask God to help me not provoke my children, and they'll ask God to help them respect us.
So our empty nest is full again. And it's not just okay, it's actually good. The Beve and I will have our days together...but for now, we're the mattress our kids fall back on when the world is expensive and hard to navigate. As my parents were for me, as the Beve's were for him, we'll open the door, stuff J's stuff in, and welcome them home. And be thankful for our full nest.