From two to five

Dear Darlings,

Sooo…you thought you were empty nesters.

Or getting ready to send your kids off to college, or getting ready to put your little one in day care, or getting ready to go on spring break with your kids, or getting ready to do — fill in the blank. It’s all changed now. Everything. This world we live in changed in the blink of an eye. Stan and I went from being empty nesters to having three college kiddos back with us. Claire was the first to come home from Virgina Tech. Then Lucas and his two cats came home with his girlfriend, Jo.

So our nest is pretty full right now.

I drove yesterday Fredericksburg yesterday to help pack the rest of Jo’s belongings and haul them here from UMW where she and Lucas are students. When I pulled into the driveway, Stan was there to greet me. Very tongue-in-cheeky I said, “Annnnnd, here we thought we were empty nesters,” as I swept my hand around the contents of the garage which now includes everything from Claire’s dorm room, and will soon include all of the contents of Jo’s dorm room. His response was a deadpan, “this from the one who cried for three days after dropping Claire off.”

I don’t mind going from two to five.

I lived that life for 13 years, until we took Zach to VMI (and one year with a sixth when we had our exchange student). It’ll be easy for me to get back into a rhythm. For the kids it’s a trickier transition. They’ve gotten used to being on their own. They had their own routines and schedules and ways of doing things. Now, I’m asking them to step up as adults in the house they used to inhabit as kids, or as a guest, with me doing the bulk of the work and them helping out with chores. Now, I’m asking them to be adults in this house. That’s the only way it’ll work, going from two to five.

It’ll be a challenge for sure.

Will we snap and get angry at one another? That is a most definite yes. But we’ve decided to employ the technique we’ve all read about on social media…name an imaginary co-worker. Done! His name is Horatio. And sometimes he’ll be called Horatio the Horrible. Like when he leaves empty coffee cups in Stan’s office to crust over and dry, or he leaves his dishes in the sink instead of putting them right into the dishwasher, or when he doesn’t wipe down the counters after making a snack, or when he leaves hair ties and bobby pins lying around. But we won’t ever talk about the state he leaves their bedrooms in, because doors can be closed. Challenges lie ahead, but we’ll soldier through because…well, we just will!

The blink of an eye.

It’s how fast life changed for all of us. Instead of flying around the country to go to work, Stan now hosts Zoom meeting from his home office. Instead of bee-bopping around their campuses, the three college kiddos now do their work online in the dining room. Instead of coming over for dinners on his way home from work, Zach now says he’ll see us in a couple of weeks, maybe. So many changes.

But we’re all having to change and adapt.

The grocery store shelves are devoid of paper towels and toilet paper. Want hand sanitizer? Good luck finding it. One of our grocery stores is out of my favorite laundry detergent, and they put limits on most essential items, milk, eggs, bread, meat, cheese, pasta. So we’ll get creative and adapt.

Isn’t that what humans do best? Adapt?

I’m making hand sanitizer for the first time in my life. I talked about buying dried beans and a ham, because they last forever. I’ve gone back to meal planning instead of just running to the grocery store to get whatever suits my fancy for our evening meal. Adaptation.

I know we don’t like change.

But we do adjust to changes put in front of us. We have to in order to survive. And this is one of the biggest challenges we, as Americans, have had put before us in a very long time. I can’t say I remember anything of this magnitude put in front of me. Ever.

So, we’ll pull together and get stronger for it.

Our collective familial bonds will be tested, but that test will make us stronger. Our national bonds are frayed, but I’m hoping this same test makes us, as a nation, stronger. It’s what I believe in my heart will happen. Strength comes from challenge.

Remember that, always. Strength comes from challenge.



P.S. And remember to Wash. Your. Hands.

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