28 days of just-the-two-of-us. 28 days of quiet, relatively uncomplicated routine; candlelit dinners at whatever time; bedtime without worry of when the squeaky front door latch might turn; all the freedoms that come with an empty nest.
28 days to plan what to do with the empty upstairs bedrooms. Actually having the confidence to choose paint colors. Certainly enough time to paint one of them a pretty shade of orange, the morning sunlight streaming in like a new beginning.
Nicole had moved out in late December after a 5-month stay. We had been empty nesters for a year before that, but that seemed more like mourning and adjustment than freedom and expansion.
The phone rang at 12:40 PM the day after my return from Anaheim. Beccah's voice on the other end saying, Would it be alright if I move back home for a while?The mother in me kicked in with urgency. Are you OK? Are things between you and Barty OK? What-do-you-need and how-can-I-help-you rushed in as instinctively as pulling my fingers away from a hot iron.
She's fine. They're fine. But it was not so fine with their landlords. The situation was no longer acceptable. I just need to come home for a while. Pay off my debts. Save some money. Buy a car. Continue with school. Get some control.
A very sound, sensible plan. The most celebrated strategem to date. Cartwheel worthy, in fact.And yet, in our desire to support her, to nurture her in her quest for independence, and to fortify her in her resolve, we give up the empty nest, including midnight cheesecake and naked Thursdays. (Just kidding. Mostly I threw that in for Brenda--hey Brenda!)
And suddenly, just like that, our 28 days of simplicity became a little more complicated. And more complicated than it was with Nicole--who wasn't attached to her once live-in boyfriend at the proverbial hip.
Boundaries will need to be set. Lines will need to be drawn. Rules of engagement will need to be understood and respected.
It will be fine. This is the most important thing that we can do for Beccah right now, and we embrace it with the unconditional love and lifelong commitment that parenthood demands. And while realizing that the empty nest is a sweet spot of joy that will have to be placed on a shelf for a time, I also realize that this is a rare and blessed opportunity for us to be more involved in one another's lives--and to spend more time with someone who may very well become a member of our family one day.
It's all good. But it's true what they say. Empty nests come with revolving doors. Ours just blew wide open.
But at least it's painted a pretty shade of orange, the morning sunlight streaming in like a new beginning.
Welcome home, Beccah. Welcome home.