My Sad is the New Clean

I secretly felt bugged that things were not neat and tidy, the way I like it.  I squashed that bugged feeling because I knew that this chaotic sight would soon be gone and would be replaced by a structured scene of boring tidiness.

The piles of strewn about pens, pencils, markers, white boards, paper punchers, forks, knives, kitchen towels, and many other supplies, some held in brown paper bags and others in plastic, adorned our dining room table for weeks.  This continuing theme of strewn supplies was also hidden in a room in our basement.  Behind closed bedroom doors piles of linens and towels could be found ready to be packed away.  There was no set pattern or any organization that could be found amongst the bags that I could see, but my daughters knew exactly what was where and each item’s future destination.

A few days before the big moves, supplies started to get shuffled around and packed in large red plastic tubs and big cardboard boxes.  I wondered if I could manage the change that was coming my way.

When Sunday morning arrived, we were right on schedule – 10:00 a.m. sharp.  Katie’s things were neatly arranged in the mini-van.  Katie clutched a box of Life cereal in one arm while steadying her laptop on her knees, all ready to go.  I gathered up the papers we might need, and settled in for the drive.  My husband turned the key in the ignition, and we were surprised when all we heard was “click, click, click.”  The engine would not turn over.  Our thoughts raced.  Would we need to re-pack and put everything in our other car?  Should we ask our neighbors if we could use their van?  How long would all this take?  Would we be to school in time to get everything unpacked so that Katie could make it to all the things that she needed to?

We got a grip on the situation and called AAA.  The time that it took for the mechanic to arrive seemed much longer than just half an hour.  After the battery was charged, we all let out a sigh of relief as the engine turned over.  We could now go on our way and get Katie moved into her dorm room.  

We found a parking spot close to Katie’s dorm.  It looked as though most of the newly arrived freshmen were already done unloading their things.  Along the hallways were torn up cardboard boxes and remnants of empty packaging ready to be discarded.  Parents wandered about with blank stares on their faces as their children tried to figure out how to arrange their things.  Katie found a place for all of her stuff, either in a closet, in or on her desk or on a shelf somewhere! 

Even though we were behind schedule, we accomplished everything on time:  checked in, ate lunch, got Katie’s picture taken, and bought last-minute books.  Before we knew it, it was time for us to hug, pat each other on the back and say “I’ll see you soon.”

Then Monday arrived.  Now our daughter Laura needed to get moved into her apartment on campus.  Again, everything was accomplished on time:  got a new battery in the van, had Laura remind me to get going, repeated drive, un-packed, hugged and patted each other on the back.

“I’ll see you soon,” Laura said.

“When?” I asked, a little too desperately. 

 The look I got, said “Oh, Mom!” 

Off I went back home.  As I drove, memories of days gone by resurfaced and caused my sunglasses to fog up.  There was a day long ago when I watched my three small children in front of the TV.  They were snacking on fruit roll-ups and gummy bears.  I remember thinking to myself back then, “If only I could freeze this moment in time I could keep those cute little faces, choking hugs of little arms around my neck and slobbery sticky kisses close to me.”

“Oh, that’s silly, I can’t freeze time, and why would anyone want to do that?” as I continued a conversation with myself.  Deep down, I did want to do that – even though I knew it is impossible.  I worried about the big bad world, and I wondered if my children would be okay out there all by themselves after all the growing up they had to do.

When I arrived home, all the boxes, bags, and supplies were gone.  The vacuum cleaner fits in the closet now because so many shoes went off to school too.  The refrigerator doesn’t get emptied out as fast as it used to.  So, I cleaned the empty spaces.  I vacuumed, dusted, peaked and gathered things from under the bed, folded left behind clothes, and straighten pictures in Katie’s bedroom.  Now this room is neat and tidy, the way I thought I would like it. 

I can’t help but wonder what next year will be like when Matt goes off to school.  More of me being sad makes for a cleaner house. 

This post was prompted by “Red Writing Hood – Seasons of Change”  ~ “This week, with Labor Day and the end of summer rapidly approaching, we asked you to write about a season of change for your character or you. It can be literal or metaphorical.”


6 thoughts on “My Sad is the New Clean

  1. We are in just the same spot! We just moved one daughter to TX for freshman year. We traveled the 10+ hrs back home only for me to go with the eldest to TN to get settled for Sr year. Little brother is still here…thank God! Or things would be too quiet for me to stand!

    Sending you supportive thoughts! I could come over and mess things up a little and you could drop some dirty laundry off here!

  2. Ouch…hurt my heart. My children left a little different, and they were all so close in age it went from the chaos of four children to empty house in what seemed seconds!
    You organized this writing well…moved us through the times you needed to, slowed us down for the ones that counted. Loved hearing your inner thoughts through all your moments.
    Enjoy your visits…and your clean house!

  3. My heart aches for you. I have an empty nest too, and it is overwhelming how many routines change when the children leave. I love your description of cleaning the empty spaces, that feels good in some ways. Wishing you and your family all the best! Keep that nest warm and happy!

  4. Pingback: Katie’s Mom | My Reality Show

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