Think but This and All is Mended. . .

It is raining a coldish, shivery spring rain.  I am sitting here at the computer in my “office”--the room which I still call ‘C----‘s room’--by the window, listening to the rain pouring down the downspout against the brick outer wall of our townhome and onto the ground.

In fact, I am consciously calling this room by that name, that is: the room of my youngest child, and I stop myself when I find myself beginning to say ‘my office’ when I refer to it either to friends, or even to my husband.

I know I wrote sometime back that I am metamorphosing as a mother; that I am beginning to accept my children as adults, as well as my role as grandmother to my grandkids.  But that is not the whole truth, only just…most of it.

There is still a small part of me that does not want to make that final, emotional leap out of the past and into the future by calling the room in which my youngest daughter spent a very small fraction of her life, actually—she was here in this townhome where we have lived now for six and a half years, for all of six short months—by its new name in its new incarnation: “My Office”.  

Even though I knew when she left home that the chances of her returning permanently, if she succeeded in her three years of high school overseas (which she did) and then in the army were slim-to-none, I kept referring to her bedroom as “C----‘s room”.  It strangely gave me a kind of hope, that my little girl would some day come back home to her mama, and I would ‘have’ her again, to care for and love, right here; the irony being, of course, that for years she just couldn’t wait to leave home.  She used to joke (only half in jest) that the first chance she gets she’ll file for ‘emancipated teenager’ status and high-tail it outa here!

And then, in 2004, it happened—she got her big chance to fulfill her wish: we, out of the blue, (of course, nothing is really out of the blue, is it) learned about a special program of high school overseas, then army service and attaining citizenship, called the Na’aleh program, which was completely paid for by the Jewish Agency for those students who qualified.

This was just a few months after we had sold our house, had lived in a friend’s basement for four months while looking for work (both my husband and I had been laid off within months of each other), and moved into our rental townhome. 

So six months after moving in, during which time we had to fly to New York for batteries of tests and evaluations by psychologists to see if she had ‘what it takes’ to live away from home (boy, did they not have a clue)—she had barely made the room her own, personalizing it with Harry Potter posters, pictures of various hunk celebrities cut from magazines and a quote from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream on her door—when she left for Israel that August.  We had only moved in the February before…

She has been living overseas almost six years now and is currently a combat commander and staff sergeant at the tail end of her active duty army service.  After her sister (older by less than two years) left the house for college, I figured she—both girls actually--would come back for visits (in fact our youngest only returned three times in six years) and besides, my old computer was still downstairs in the family room/husband’s office, because, well, that was just where this family’s ‘offices’ were, as my husband was then working from home, telecommuting. 

I don’t remember exactly when my ‘office policy’ changed.  I think it was one year ago, maybe one-and-a-half, that I decided to relocate up three flights of stairs to C----‘s room Well, actually it was my husband who decided.  He said that he couldn’t concentrate on work when I was downstairs, asking him questions all the time (I mean, he is my built-in tech support).

For a while, I tried rationalizing with myself by thinking that of the two girls (psychologically, to me, still at home)--my middlest and my youngest--the middle one was ‘merely’ in college, albeit overseas.  She’d come back for the summers if we could scrounge up the money for it, whereas the youngest was already starting her army service, becoming a citizen, and wouldn’t be back for on a permanent basis; so based on that notion I made the decision to leave my middle daughter’s room intact, more or less.  And besides, it still had her waterbed in it (read on).

Therefore I chose the youngest one’s room for change, thinking that I could actually, well, do it.  It also had other advantages (I said to myself): I could place my computer table against the wall, and being left-handed, put my desk under the window at a 90 degree angle to the left of the PC table so that I could write.  We also had just recently sold her waterbed (she kept saying for years that we could sell it; but I hadn’t been able to bring myself to do it) and acquired a trundle bed from friends, which was perfect as an office couch or for overnight guests.  Truthfully, no adults could sleep comfortably in that waterbed, let alone get out of it!

It took me a while, though, before I could bring myself to tear down most of the Harry Potter posters (those pics of the hunky celebrities was less of a problem), with her approval of course.   

And she all the while kept insisting that she had moved out permanently—that it was “not her room anymore”, and we could do with it as we pleased. But deep down inside despite the rationalizations,  I just couldn’t think of it as anything but her room. 

I mean really, technically she is right-how is this her room anymore?  There are only a few Harry Potter pictures left.  Her dresser is empty, except for one bottom drawer with some stuff of hers I couldn’t bring myself to throw away. 

However, the closet still has the clothes in it which she hadn’t taken with her.  It has her hockey sticks, roller blades, amplifier, etc.—which are too expensive to ship when you’re going to be in a dorm in high school and then in the army.  Her hamster cage—from when she brought the rat home from science lab so he wouldn’t be done away with during the summer of her first year in high school—is still here.

Either she will return ( I say to myself) after her army service is over for an extended break, or to find work, or to attend college in the States.  Or we parents will pack up the house and move, taking all her stuff together with our decades-old junk in a lift.  Whichever way it goes, her stuff is still hers—despite the fact that she insists we discard it all—and this is only a transitory state of affairs.

So here I am.  Sitting on my cobalt-blue upholstered swivel desk chair at my PC, listening to the rain falling outside the window, in C---‘s room, where my office temporarily is

That is how it is when you love someone.  They are always still there.  Oh, and by the way, we kept her Shakespeare quote.  It’s still on the door.


metamorphosis, indeed! i remember when my parents changed my old room to a workout room. it took *years* for them to do it and it's been years since, but it still looks funny to me every time i see it! there's nothing wrong with letting it be a process, a journey. no rush! :)
Lady-Light said…
Minn Mama: Yes, it's taking me 'years', but as you so rightly said, it's a journey.
The ride of life. And oh, what a ride...
Ari said…
love u Emma
Batya said…
galvaldik, supurb post on the empty nest
Lady-Light said…
Batya: Thank you, and Happy Mother's Day to you (remember that from the old country?)
Lady-Light said…
Ari: I love you too, motek; and miss you terribly (especially since I just saw you!)
Isha Shiri said…
Hello Lady, Shalom Aleichem

Wow, I thrilled reading your post-family. I'm one year and 3 months away from my country, I know too what is feels missing. I'm married and live in Brazil now.
I'll have my baby and I feel like my parents, especially Mommy, much missed. But anyway, I already have 32 years, I done IDF, finished my university, now married and future-mother..., but all the distance from my parents is very difficult.

But we must raise our heads and move on!

Be happy!
(See the post about "Baby K'tan" on the blog Yeladim)
wow I'm so linking this one on my blog. The other side of being a newly wed, understanding mom and dad, or inlaws feelings when they realise their child is now grown up and not coming home.

There's a lot of emotion in this, I almost cried.
Sharon Frank said…
It's funny because I never really had a room to go home to since I was 13 years old. And even before that my room was also my little sister's. It nice that you keep a room for your children. It shows just how much you love and care about them.
marion said…
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Simon G said…
Great Blog, very well written. :) I look forward to reading more!
Lady-Light said…
Sorry to all commenters for the long delay in responding. See what happens when one works full-time? (What can I say? I need the $$$.).

Isha Shiri: Thank you so much for your comment--it is hard to be away from family, in your case, parents, in mine, children--same difference! And thank you for your wonderful promotion of Baby K'tan, the BEST baby carrier on the market today!!

D.L.: Thank you for linking me. There are many sides to familial relationships, and many realities, from different perspectives--all of them have some validity, and need to be considered. You are very wise for your age, sweetie!

Sharon: When I was growing up I always shared a room with my sister--never had a 'room of my own,' as it were.
The reason I keep a room for my children is, I can't seem to 'move on,' until we, ourselves, move. Maybe that is the answer (except that when we do, to Israel--I hope to have an apartment with...3 bedrooms, for the kids!!! (yeah, sure.)

Marion: Commented on yours, too.

Simon G.: Welcome to you, too! Thank you for visiting, and looking forward to hearing from you again soon.

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