For 24 years our son lived with us, which not only assured that we'd see him regularly, but the house was filled with friends, music, baseball mitts and laundry. There was an excuse to buy chips and Entenmann’s chocolate-covered doughnuts. Our job as parents was to make our son feel safe. However irrational, when the family was together, I, too, felt safe.
The most exciting piece of furniture we ever acquired was the crib, the hub of a room that was all about baby, love and promise. It was where toes were discovered and words were learned. Stick figures gave way to cursive script, and before long, I was asking him how to download or say something in French. The bed, sheets, sneakers and computer programs changed, keeping up with Nicky's growth. His room was the most dynamic in the house, where time and space conflated, a marker of the growing process for all of us.
Several months ago our son moved out. It was age appropriate, he’s living within walking distance, yet there’s an emptiness unrelated to a spare room or real estate. My husband and I are moving on with loving reluctance. Bringing home a baby was magical; the preparation was joyous. We hadn’t anticipated this stage, or maybe we were in denial, dreading the time when contact would be text messages and occasional dinners.
Choosing the wall color and sleeper sofa for what had been Nicky's room was accompanied by none of the euphoria we'd experienced while decorating the nursery or even transforming his room to be right for a teenager. There’s a substantial amount of work being done in there and none of it interests me. Kids move out without vacuuming or spackling up holes in the wall, which is why I teased him that parents should take a cue from landlords and get a security deposit from their kids. But the truth is it’s not the holes in the wall I'm having trouble filling.