August 29, 2009

Quiet

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.

19 comments:

heidi said...

Aw. Transitions are dificult.

Phantom Scribbler said...

You wanna talk to my kids? They're up...

rokeya said...

You know, you can call me any time you want to be chatty. It's not the same, but it might help.

Reading this fills me with a mixture of sadness and admiration. Admiration at the thoughtful way you write about your life, and sadness when I look back and realize how insensitive I was to my parents' feelings when I left home for college years ago.

Songbird said...

We have different flavors of family now, depending on who is home. I love each one, in a different way. I hope you will, too.

landismom said...

Maybe we should all take turns sending you our kids for a week, jo(e). I'm willing to make the sacrifice, so that you can have the accustomed dirt & noise :).

Elias Alfred McQuaid IV said...

who won??

chichimama said...

My kids would be more than happy to chat with you as well. I think Phantom and landismom might be onto something...

But in all seriousness, I already live in fear of the day my kids head to college. Many hugs.

Cheesehead said...

My hall bathroom has been spotless since July 5th. I'm thinking of inviting ManChild, 22, to come over and mess it up.

Nah. Not really.

Karin said...

My two and a half hours of quiet while LG is at preschool are really nice, but I can't imagine it being that way all the time. It is interesting reading your perspective on this - something that I won't deal with for many years, but something my mom had to deal with years ago. There's so much more about her I understand better now.

Anonymous said...

I'll send my kids right over. I could use a break. LOL.

Cynthia

jo(e) said...

I'm smiling at all the offers.

Elias: It was a draw. I think they're pretty evenly matched.

Anjali said...

Here's the good news -- it's because your house was filled with so many voices and laughter and love and music that it seems unnervingly quiet now.

Here's hoping the holidays are extra lively to make up for the quiet in between!

Brigindo said...

I'm finding the empty nest to be a major readjustment. Its been a year since my one and only child left and, while easier, it still doesn't seem right. He's an introvert and certainly never made the house as lively as yours has always sounded yet his absence is always present.

bsouth said...

Ouch. Sounds painful. I have no words of wisdom to offer you, mine are far too young and I can only dream of a peaceful house!

liz said...

Sounds like it's time for a blogger playdate with kids at Jo(e)'s house!

jo(e) said...

Liz: That would be fun!

Boy in Black said...

Actually, I think their last five games have been 2 wins for With-a-Why and 3 draws. They might not be as evenly matched as they once were....

Blue Eyed Ultimate Player said...

The biggest problem with with-a-why's game in my opinion is his development. I really think he could be a great player if he worked on trying to incorporate more pieces into his attacks instead of moving the same pieces multiple times and then trading them away for a piece his opponent has only moved once. He comes out even in pieces but down in moves and position.

Anonymous said...

this is little jess. i somehow stumbled upon your blog and started reading these old entries. my dad would have something comical to say about how with our generation, it seems once you finally get used to having the rugrats out of the house.. they come back!!! there's no getting rid of them! haha. I guess that mostly pertains to your eldest. well maybe they don't live there permanently anymore but hopefully they still come around and create enough chaos for your enjoyment :)