When my daughter was about 10, I remarked to a friend that she was growing up too fast and I wished she would slow down. He said, “Have you considered keeping her in tupperware?”
Well I didn’t keep her in tupperware and so she has grown up. She’s 19, working full time, and this weekend we moved her into her first apartment, which she shares with three roommates.
She is doing things at 19 that I wouldn’t have been able to even imagine at the same age. She found these roommates and this apartment completely on her own. She’s been working and saving almost every dollar and had her deposit and first month’s rent all set to go.
She has done well, so well.
We had some fun finding new sheets and towels and other assorted apartment stuff. I want to buy her everything, or lock her in her room at home. I’m trying hard to decide which. She made the decision for me and is in her apartment tonight, texting every now and again. She took along her cat, who is still, apparently, hiding under a bed.
So we’re down two tonight. One less cat and one less daughter. The quietness is deafening around here.
Her absence has created a hollowness in the house. We loaned her a kitchen table and four chairs, moved a bed and mattress, baskets full of clothes and boxes full of books and shoes. A small side table here, and a little lamp there. Her room there is filling up and our house is emptying out.
We have an empty spot in the kitchen where the table used to be. We never used it since we have a dining room table, but its absence is a reminder of what we’re all going through.
Things are different. They change. We move and grow. We fill new spaces and leave space empty in our wake.
And the neighbors take their garbage cans to the curb like it’s any other Tuesday. For them, it is any other Tuesday. But not for us. It’s our first Tuesday with our daughter living on her own.
I’m wise enough to feel grateful for this first Tuesday, to feel proud of my amazing child, who just the other day was so tiny that her new backpack swallowed her whole.
I’m smart enough and I know enough about the world around me to know that not everyone gets to see their children turn 19.
Like the woman down the street, whose 19 year old died by suicide around this time last year. It’s an event I can’t and don’t want to imagine. His is a sort of unspeakable absence. The kind that slams you to your knees and turns you inside out.
My daughter is about 20 minutes away in a clean place with three other lovely young women around her age. She is growing into her independence with the grace she’s always had.
We’ll find another table for the kitchen, and I’ll make some stuffed ziti for the four of them. The emptiness in her wake is overshadowed by her growth. This place was getting too small for her anyway.
You might enjoy this post about empty nests.
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