The Goodbye Season
I promise this will be my last post about kids leaving home, but this is the season of goodbyes. I’ve helped them pack up the junk that has been parked on the floor and the bed all summer, watched them load it into their respective cars, and then stood on the driveway waving until they rounded the corner and headed out of the neighborhood. I will admit, this is not my favorite part of parenting. It’s not so much the letting go. It’s the silence.
Why is it that when the two older kids leave for college in the fall, the house seems so quiet despite the ten-year-old, the Lab puppy, the Westie, the cat (no, she really doesn’t count), and the extended family that passes in and out of the house in a given week? I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter how much noise the ones who stay make, there is a deafening noise void created by the ones who leave. Something is missing: extra pairs of feet bounding up and down the stairs, the blare of Seinfeld on the big screen upstairs, acoustic guitar strumming, and I won’t even talk about the dinner table.
Erin drove away this morning, Colin moved into his house in Shawnee last week, Alison spent the night with a friend last night, and the dogs have been put in the backyard. I’m sitting in complete silence, but instead of breathing a sigh of relief and enjoying the peace, I’m edgy. It’s always this way for a few days until I get used to the noise void. Fortunately the dogs are whining to come back in and I pick Alison up in less than an hour.
I’ve often wondered if there is something strange about my desire to keep a full house. I grew up an only child and always dreamed of a home where there was a constant whirlwind of activity. Sometimes, when you wish for something and get it, the reality is not so grand. But there has never been a moment when I’ve been let down by the reality of a full and crowded house. It’s like being wrapped up in a big, old blanket that is soft from years of use. And yes, there are occasions when I have grumbled about the mess, the noise, the constant interruptions, the lack of “alone time.” But the grumbling quickly ceases when I think about the alternative. And the more goodbyes I say, the more I relish all that comes with the full house. On that note, I think I’ll go let the dogs back in.