Eric moved out today. While I was at work. I knew it was happening, but it wasn’t quite real. I had been home for a little while, just settling into the weekend. As I was washing my hands in the bathroom, I noticed it looked a little cleaner than usual. Not clean, but empty. All of Eric’s things were gone from the counter.
Mind you, I raised him as a divorced mom with a 50/50 custody arrangement. I have watched him leave hundreds of times. Or come home to find him gone. I have been well trained for this day. But there was always a toothbrush.
Today is different. He won’t be back as my child. He will be back as a visitor. Someone who lives somewhere else. A man.
I went to the kitchen to make a sandwich. I buy him all the best sandwich ingredients. Today I would make one for me. Maybe not the way he likes it, my way. I can. I am eating it as I write, and it is good.
I remembered that he and his buddy, Dave, had changed the bed frame in his room for me, and decided to go and see how it looked. It looked great. All of his stuff was gone. Granted, most of it is in the fourth bedroom, which is now his storage room. So much stuff. He has to stay at Dave’s house because he can’t find the bed. This room only has furniture now.
The plan was for him to move into that bedroom because I will be hosting international students this year and the first one is arriving on Monday. He has been reluctant to give up his room, though he did it voluntarily. It only makes sense for him to have the smallest room while he is away at college. He totally gets it. He just put it off until the last weekend.
As I was contemplating how I would turn this space into a girl’s room in the next 48 hours, I realized that my fabulous office chair was there in front of me. The one I splurged on years ago when it was on sale. The one Eric sort of gradually stole from me, despite how much I loved it. “Well, I get it back when you go off to college,” I had finally said. Today. I got my chair back. It seems to be more molded to his shape than mine now.
So today is the day. He will be back tomorrow. He is only sleeping at Dave’s for eleven nights. Then he will go to college.
I will miss him. A lot. Yet we are ready for this. I always wondered how it would be. It’s good. Even though it would have been nice if his school started earlier and my soon-coming students could come later, this little overlap isn’t a reason to not go ahead with our plans. He has a very bright future and is eager to begin his training. I would not hold him back for anything. We have phones. We can text. We can call. We can even send each other money. Though I suspect that will only work one way.
In my mind, I hear the words, “Well done.” I hope so. I have held the greatest secret these past 20 years. The world will soon know the man who I have had a hand in raising. Such a privilege. I can only defer to the grace of God. He not only gave me a wonderful human being, he was there along the way through all of the years. I sure did make mistakes. Plenty of them. Yet this wise, intelligent, responsible, funny, well-groomed, and talented man has emerged. He isn’t perfect. There are flaws. He will figure it out. I have so much confidence in him.
So this is my empty nest. It will fill again on Monday, but for now, it’s just me. I have survived.