Empty nest? EMPTY NEST?! Bwahahahaha! I wish. My girl may have launched 1150 miles away to college, but she left her nest anything but empty. I think more fitting words would be disarranged, disorganized, and disgusting. In truth it looked like a mob boss had tossed the room for the secret stashes of cash before fleeing the country.
To her credit, she washed, cleaned, organized, and packed all of her things for college. She managed to do such a good job that she was able to get it all in her allotted suitcases coming in under the airline weight restrictions. But once we returned home from drop-off and the brain bash of leaving my first baby at college drained away, the full disaster of her room walloped me. First it stabbed me in the heart because it looked like she should be arising from the rubble to greet me every morning. Seriously, her bed not only looked like she was still in it, but I swear if you stared at the heap long enough, it looked like it was breathing. My girl used A LOT of blankets since her father keeps the thermostat just north of “meat locker.”
It was with a healthy dose of trepidation that I sidled into the room and threw off the comforter. Hey, she once had a bat doing a jig at the end of her bed so a family of possums setting up camp under there was not beyond the realm of possibilities.
“Whoosh” went the covers and “ewwww” went the very core of my psyche. Had she even changed her sheets in the past three months, wait . . . THREE YEARS? It really could have been longer because I think I stopped cleaning my kids rooms and ceased being the sole laundress when she reached middle school. Silver lining: I still didn’t have to wash the sheets because they went directly into the trash.
But gah! Even though I wasn’t cleaning my daughters’ rooms, they were expected to clean them. But now that I think about it, I never inspected them. I would inspect the bathrooms they decontaminated weekly because I swear about every two months the blow dryer would just whisk the procedure for scrubbing a toilet clean out of their heads. And there was that one time our mismatched sock basket overflowed to Vesuvius levels because apparently it was easier to assume EVERY sock in our dryer was flying solo than it was to match and fold them. But their rooms? If they bothered me too much, I just closed the doors.
I truly thought she had cleaned her room though. I know I had seen it tidy at least once during the Obama administration, but once the stripped bed floated like an oasis in the middle of the room, it became clear that instead of following the “touch-it-once” rule, she was employing the “why-throw-something-away-when-you-can-shove-it-under-your-bed-in-your-closet-in-a-drawer-or-behind-the-trash-can” rule. “Just-leave-it-in-the-middle-of-the-ever-loving-floor” rule was her fail safe for when doing the bare minimum to qualify for lazy was just too taxing.
What started as “I’m just going to just pick up those pencils and put them in the caddy,” turned into a full-on excavation. Oh the treasures I found.
There was the solitary volleyball knee pad that was so old, the spandex crumbled when I picked it up. At least there was a deteriorating lollipop stuck to it gluing part of it together.
Then I found a little straw dress-up purse that contained such treasures as an expired coupon for toilet bowl cleaner and yet another decaying lollipop. (I’m starting to think her superior dental health was because she liked to hoard candy rather than eat it. Why we didn’t trade dental bills for exterminator fees, I’ll never know.)
Also amongst the rubble was a princess jump rope (permanently tangled), a junior scientist kit (never opened), and one hundred plus eleven lip balms (half of which where plastered to—you guessed it—lollipops).
I’m going to save you any more particulars, but suffice it to say, I filled up three garbage bags with stuff I didn’t even have to think twice about throwing away. Okay, I did pause over the one little purple fuzzy slipper because WHAT IF THE OTHER ONE TURNED UP?? They were pretty stinkin’ adorable.
Seems not cleaning my kids’ rooms was an initiative that should have had an exit strategy. This became abundantly clear when I started stumbling over emotional landmines like her “All About Me” kindergarten profile, the stuffed cat she use to snuggle with, and her stack of Webkinz adoption certificates. Those trips down memory lane would have been so much better with her rather than by myself three weeks into her departure when the ache of not seeing her was starting to set in. Silver lining: I had the cover of dirt dervishes to explain my reddened eyes and snuffly nose.
I really meant for the Big Clean to happen over the summer with her fully in charge; but when faced with grief or change I tend to “panic travel.” It’s like a driving force that overtakes me, compelling me to move forward and make new memories rather than dwell with the ghosts of the past, no matter how cute they are.
Besides, I hate to clean, too. Going to Philly was soooo much more fulfilling than battling dust bunnies.
Oh, but snooker me once . . . you’re obviously the oldest child. Second child: don’t even think about it. You’ll have to blaze your own trail to elude me because this pathway has been scorched.
My 10th grader is shoveling out her room even as we speak . . . under protest of course. “My sister made it all the way out of the house before having to do this and now YOU’RE cleaning her room.”
True, but I did leave this wall of memorabilia for her to deal with. I’m COMPLETELY positive I won’t be the one taking it down weeks after her wedding day. I just wasn’t ready to turn her nest into the perfect guest room quite yet. She needs somewhere familiar to land when she comes homes to roost every once in a while.
I’ll leave you with a pro tip since we are after all the Sensible Moms. My girl has a TON of knick-knacks as you can see. I consolidated a bit of the tedious mess by putting the smallest treasures in a two gallon glass container creating a Memorabilia Jar. It truly cut down the clutter more than it may seem. The biggest trick to it is to put some boxy types items in the center so that everything gets displayed around the perimeter.
[Speaking of memory lane, I found the post I wrote when we redecorated my daughter’s room five years ago. I actually wrote about how I would be happy for the massive clean out I was doing then because it would save me from doing it when she went away to college. I don’t know whether to be grateful for the realization that THIS cleaning could have been worse or to tip over laughing at my delusion that a whole new mountain of stuff wouldn’t accumulate in five years time. (Obviously things slithered through that first wave of cleaning like her kindergarten profile because, well, we’re awesome.) You can be the judge after reading it here.]
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