Originally published in the Miami News-Record on September 13, 2015.
Last weekend we moved our oldest, Abby, into her own house. I didn’t shed a single tear the entire day. In fact, I have yet to cry over the whole thing. Now, her daddy on the other hand has had a significantly harder time with this than I have.
While I’m usually the cry-er, that wasn’t the case this time. So even though I didn’t “get” his sadness, I just patted him awkwardly and said, “Geez, it’s not like she moved to China. We’ll see her again next week. Good grief.” Apparently he viewed this as a bit cold. I tried. I really thought that was comforting. But he pats me awkwardly when I am hysterically crying over an episode of “Downton Abbey” even though he thinks I’m silly beyond measure. This time it was simply my turn to awkwardly pat him even though I didn’t understand why he was so upset. I suppose I should expect him to be a little less sympathetic the next time I’m crying while the Crawleys celebrate Christmas at the abbey. (And if you’ve ever watched “Downton Abbey” you know the Christmas episodes are absolute tear-jerkers.)
I have been nothing but elated for Abby since she first started talking about moving out on her own. When I was 19, I moved to Stillwater with a friend from high school and lived there all of six weeks. I was so homesick I ran back home with a bruised ego, feeling a bit of a failure. (It all worked out – I met my Pauly a month after moving back.) So really, I have never lived on my own. I went from living in my momma’s house, a short stint with a roommate, back to Mom’s, to living in my husband’s house. And 23 years later, I’m still living in the midst of this glorious circus with these crazy monkeys I married and gave birth to. Abby’s getting to live monkey-free for awhile and that’s very cool.
I’ve had so many people console me and tell me “it’s going to be okay” and I’ll “get through it” and I’m like, “Yeaaaaaah … *blink blink*… I know. I’m excited for her….should I not be?” and then I usually get stared at like I’ve suddenly grown tentacles or something.
She’s learning that it’s okay to be alone. She’s paying her own bills, cooking her own food (mostly chicken strips and mac and cheese), going to her job every day, and has decorated her house the way she wants to decorate it. (The plethora of Eiffel Towers in virtually every room is testament to that.) She and her dog are settling in to this grand thing called Life on her terms, in her own way, and I am THRILLED for her. When she tripped a breaker the other day, she had to figure it out on her own. (Of course, she called her Daddy to help her, but she fixed it on her own while he talked her through it.) She is also fighting an ant invasion and has figured out that if she lets the dishes sit in the sink that is a very bad thing. She is potty training a year and a half old dog, proving the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” wrong. She is decoupaging every light switch and outlet cover in the house pink and silver and polka dots. I am so proud of her, living this chapter of her life quite bravely and awesomely.
Oh, don’t get me wrong – I miss her something fierce. But for now, she can’t afford cable and we can, so we know that every Sunday night she’ll show up at our house for dinner that is definitely not chicken strips and macaroni and cheese and to watch “The Walking Dead.” I’ll get my Abby fix and zombie fix all in the same night. Life is good. Even if our nest is a little emptier.