I kept telling myself that a clean house would be the silver lining. Just think, I told myself this morning, how clean the house will be without a whole gang of teenagers and young people hanging out here, making food in the middle of the night and playing poker and taking off their wet Ultimate clothes and tossing crumpled white socks everywhere.
Boy in Black moved up to campus this morning. He packed his stuff – a laundry basket full of clothes, a cardboard box of desk stuff, his disc bag, some bedding and his laptop computer – into the trunk of the car and drove off. He’s pretty casual about moving. Unless you count his musical instruments, almost everything he owns – the stuff he considers important – fits into his backpack or his disc bag.
My plan was to clean the whole house this weekend once the three older kids had moved out. I thought it would feel satisfying, somehow, to have the whole house clean.
I started with the bathrooms while my husband went out to get a new part for the vacuum cleaner. We break vacuum cleaners more often than anyone I know. I have no idea why. Unless it has something to do with the amount of odd things that get sucked into the machine: poker chips, wire hangers, granola bars, whole socks, sometimes. I didn’t clean all day – I played with the neighbor kids for a little while this morning and went over to my parents’ house in the afternoon because they need my laptop to burn some CDs. But still, this evening, the house is already looking cleaner.
The bathroom that I cleaned this morning? It’s still clean, hours later. The kitchen floor that I washed? It’s still clean, hours later.
But this all feels way less satisfying than I thought it would. I keep looking around the house for my daughter, wanting to ask her something, and it takes me a few minutes to realize that she’s not here. Shaggy Hair Boy is my most extroverted and expressive child: his absence changes the energy in the house. I keep expecting to hear some jazz piano music coming from the living room. Usually, when I’m working at my desk, I take breaks to go sit in the living room and just hang out, and it’s strange to have the room so empty. I keep expecting to find Boy in Black’s long body stretched on the couch, or Shaggy Hair Boy looking up with a grin as he tells me some random thing he just noticed.
I’m living with two quiet introverts – my husband and With-a-Why. They are currently sitting on the living room floor, absorbed in a game of chess. They can play chess for hours and hardly say anything the whole time.
It might take me a while to get used to this.