Empty nest

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Kym Seabolt's furniture

“You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.”

— Maya Angelou

A few weeks ago, I walked into the guest room and shut off the air conditioner, thinking, “why is this on?”

We are known for our cheap ways when it comes to electricity. GirlWonder got out of the shower, walked back to the room and questioned why it was off.

“I forgot you live here,” was not the answer she expected.

Both BoyWonder and GirlWonder have flown the nest — sort of. They are in college, which means that most of the time, they do not live at home. BoyWonder officially has his name on a lease somewhere else. Curiously, however, his mail and most of his personal belongings still live at our house. He comes home some Sundays for dinner and stops throughout the week.

Still, it’s different. It seems like just when a kid gets super useful around the house, they up and move out on you. GirlWonder reminds us that her name is not officially on a lease anywhere. She considers our home to be her base, but she is staying elsewhere, so the jury is still out on that one.

In fact, she came home for the weekend unexpectedly, and Mr. Wonderful and I both felt like we had a surprise guest.

Guest

For the record, GirlWonder is sleeping in the “guest room,” because her own childhood bedroom has already been turned into a sitting room. I had to have somewhere to stash my nearly new auction deal, $16 living room set, after all. To be fair “GirlWonder Slept Here” can technically be applied to numerous rooms in the house.

She had one room as her nursery that later became her dressing room. She had her childhood bedroom, but also spent many nights camping on the floor in our master bedroom during storms, bad dreams or just because she felt like it. Finally, she took over the guest room as her “study lair” long before I dismantled her room.

Basically, she expands, like a goldfish, to fit the available space. She is both very neat and somewhat messy. Her rooms are either magazine spread-worthy or knee-deep in shoes and cast-off clothing. There is no middle ground.

BoyWonder has had the entire third floor to himself for a few years now. To be fair, I haven’t been up there in months. It’s probably a hot mess. I am better off not knowing. Ditto how he keeps his apartment.

I know that as time goes on, their time at home — our home — will wane. There are things they already like about living “in the city” — proximity to grocers and food delivery being chief among them. There are also things that are just better about “home.” Proximity to mom’s kitchen and Sunday dinner among them.

Choice

We chose to move here over two decades ago because this is a great place to raise a family with land, affordable living and a sense of solitude. I admit to wondering if someday our “kids” will feel the same. They grew up on acreage and open space, but also enjoy driving to Pittsburgh or Cleveland for culture — or dinner.

BoyWonder has always been my outdoorsy kid. He reveled from a young age in watching storms roll through from the shelter of the porch. He hikes around, hunting in the damp, grassy smell of autumn leaves. He points out the sound of the flood water rushing through the creek.

GirlWonder enjoys the early morning yoga workouts on the back patio with no fear of prying eyes — save the birds, goats and squirrels. She works on her tan on the riding mower in long, looping rows. Her head bobs along to the sound coming from headphones.

As far as chores go, I don’t know that they “miss” handling firewood, but both note the smell of clean wood smoke is also the scent of “home.” As is the low rumble of the oil burner roaring to life, the clicking of claws and paws on hardwood floors and the sound of dad’s truck coming up the driveway. Both appreciate the lack of traffic.

Home

We all appreciate the sense of community that envelops our region. BoyWonder touched my heart recently when he commented on going “home.” I asked him to clarify and he said, simply, “home is here, Mom. The apartment is ‘the apartment.'”

I’ll take that. I am not a “clingy” parent. I love our children dearly, but I also know that healthy birds fly. I feel like our job is to maintain the “nest” as a safe haven and soft place to land. Home is where your people are. It is also a place of comfort, launch and, sometimes, free laundry.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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