A friend of mine recently listed her big beautiful home for sale. The house that has been home to her four boys—and their dogs. The home where her kids hung out with their friends. The home where she stores all her stuff.
She is hash-tagging everything #projectemptynest.
Can’t lie; I’m mildly envious. Except I’ve watched how empty nests work. And they are usually not really empty.
Moving is one of life’s realities—and not a pleasant one. Even for those of us who regularly purge our belongings, we have come a long way from pioneer days when an entire family’s belongings could be packed in a covered wagon.
But it appears my kids are going to try. Because they think they can leave the leftovers in my attic.
A recent Washington Post article, Stuff it: Millennials nix their parents’ treasures, is fair warning for all of us with kids moving out. Because I’m finding, not only do they (politely) refuse well-intentioned offers of hand-me-down furniture, they also leave behind most remnants of childhood.
My daughter finished college last year. My son flew out to help her pack up her college life and drive our almost-vintage VW across the country. When they pulled in the drive, my son proudly pointed to the packed-to-the-brim back seat and said, “I got her bike in there.”
But her bike is now in our garage, where apparently it will remain, indefinitely. Because a few months after we unpacked the VW, it was time to relocate her to Denver, which gave us the opportunity to pack her new, and super cute, modern covered wagon to the brim and head West. (And I got to live out a childhood dream of retracing the pioneer routes.)
The contents of her convertible Fiat included every shoe she’s ever purchased, any fashionable item of clothing she owned, and, so far as I could tell, not one household item. Meanwhile, the contents of my attic now include a collection of cross-country trophies, an assortment of art-and-craft supplies, and all books, accessories and other life leftovers that didn’t fit in her car.
And her bike is still in our garage.
Whether we know it or not, we are getting our kids ready for this, every day. We send them off to college to prepare them for a career. We like to think they are preparing for a life of great success—which they are. But I for one pictured success as a job they love and a regular paycheck. I forgot about realities like moving. Maybe what I really should have taught her is how to sort belongings and pack a box.
Because there is stuff. So much stuff.
Our relocation adventure didn’t stop with unloading the Fiat, though. Because no matter what you leave behind, at the end of the day, you need a bed. And bedding. And even if the place has a decent kitchen, you need a frying pan and some utensils.
I quickly realized, even though she didn’t want anything from my nest, she still needed to fill hers. And at some point, unless you are sitting on the floor with an allen wrench using your college education to decipher directions on how to assemble Ikea furniture, you really aren’t doing the get-your-kid-into-her-first-apartment-thing right.
And after the cross-country road trip, shopping adventures and Ikea furniture assembly, there is this lovely woman who now has a job and a car and an apartment—with a bed and some Ikea furniture, but not her bike.