Later this month my middle son is moving into his first apartment with some friends. Even though I’m going to miss having him around, I’m really thrilled for him. As I observe him excitedly shopping for necessary furniture and making plans for how to organize and arrange his soon-to-be living space, I can’t help but contrast his experience with my own when I was about his age. Our processes couldn’t be more different.
When I was about 18, my mother moved out of the rental house where my brother and I had resided with her. My boyfriend moved in and the three of us assumed the responsibilities of the household. Writing that made me feel oddly uncomfortable, but at the time we just rolled with it. There weren’t really a lot of options that I recall and we were comfortable.
Months later, the house was badly damaged in a fire and our trio had to locate new digs, a situation that felt fairly overwhelming. The consolation, of course, was we had very little left to move when we eventually found a new place to call home.
Just before my 20th birthday, the boyfriend and I split up and I took on the responsibility of being completely self-sufficient. It was scary as hell. I had never lived alone before and recall being so nervous about how I would be able to support myself, knowing that my mother had nothing to offer to me. There were times I worked 3 jobs to make ends meet, but somehow I managed to pay my bills and keep in check the constant fear I felt about the bottom dropping out and my becoming homeless.
I don’t miss those days.
As my son and I select dishware, linens and plants from our home that I can make available for him to take to his new crib, I’m struck by what a momentous milestone his leaving is – for him, naturally, but also for me.
My house is the one my children have known for their entire existence. It’s the place they came home from the hospital to, in their awkward to hoist baby carriers, where they learned how to walk and it has been the setting for every Christmas morning of their lives.
boy young man has never really moved before, a reality that’s pretty easy to detect as he packs glassware sans a cocoon of newspaper. When I asked him if he had completed a change of address form with the post office yet his blank look immediately answered my question.
He truly has no familiarity with the necessary procedures when it comes to relocating and that fact somehow satisfies me. With the partnership of his dad, I had done it – I had given him a childhood with the stability for which I always longed.
Once he’s gone, I’ll do that thing that parents stereotypically seem to do – repaint, rearrange and repurpose his room. His younger brother is eyeing the space as his new room and I’m happy to help make that transition occur. As long as it’s just a moving over and not another moving out.