The kids are grown with a place of their own, but the memories live on in what's left behind.We've lived in the same house for 29 years. On a day in 1984, when our first child, Crawford, was 20 months old and our new baby, Caroline, had been on this earth for 34 days, we looked at this house at noon and owned it at two. It was twice the size of the house we owned at the time, with an expanse of a backyard.
Everything about the house was right. The perfect layout for our family who could benefit from a live-in housekeeper and - the biggest plus - a layout that allowed for roller skating, tricycle riding and a fairly open door whose transom would be crossed by many a friend, family member and stranger.
Yes, in this weirdly-constructed house, with its cement walls and ceilings, babies could sleep when parents were at play. These virtually soundproof walls also made it possible for parents of teenagers to sleep through sleepovers that didn't really involve sleep.
There were only four of us when we moved in and soon there would be seven - the two parents, the three kids, the housekeeper and her 10 year old. After our children hit high school, there were dozens of visitors at a time - in fact, entire grosses, plus some - thanks to the social life of the Lafayette High School Band.
Because our kids are close in age and because they all graduated from high school right about the time the housekeeper's daughter finished college, everybody pretty much left en masse over a course of a few short years. By leaving, I mean everyone kept his or her favorite pillow somewhere else. Ours was nowhere near an empty next.
Then and now. Not a whole lot has changed except the kids' mailing addresses.
Empty is what I cannot seem to achieve. Candace can't let go of her costumes. Crawford's got his collection of computer equipment. Although Caroline and her husband actually own their own home and live several states away, her stuff is still tucked away here and there. She doesn't really want it with her, but she doesn't want me to get rid of it, either.
Candace even left her friend Catherine behind. Catherine lives in the cottage in the backyard, the completion of which occurred because she wanted a free place to live. For this, I am grateful. I am not an empty-nester. Never aspired to be. Never want to be.
Smaller nesters, maybe, but then where would we have our house concerts, family dinners for forty and parties for whomever wants one? The challenge, at this stage of our lives, is what size nest do we want next and with what and whom will we fill it.