Hollie Grimaldi Flores: ‘Revolving Door’ replaces ‘Empty Nest’
Special to The Union
The term “Empty Nest” needs to be renamed. “The Revolving Door” is more accurate.
It was just January when we celebrated the last of the little birds flying off on their own. At that point in time, we had seven kids in two countries and six zip codes.
My husband and I were happy dancing our way into new furniture and new dishes. We brought out quality towels a friend had given me literally two years before.
The thing about towels when you have kids is you don’t get to keep the ones you own but somehow you acquire others. Over the years I have purchased at least a dozen different sets of bath towels and assorted beach towels. When I look in the linen closet, I see one or two left from each of those purchases and an assortment that do not belong to us.
Towels would accumulate on the bathroom floor and on bedroom floors, in backpacks and gym bags. Occasionally, they would make it to the laundry area, but generally they would be found damp wherever they were dropped.
What amazed me was how often they would just disappear.
Somewhere there must be a giant lost and found of towels. They would leave the house and never come back. Left at the river, at a friend’s pool, in their locker, at the gym, at the lake, at their other parents’ home, in someone’s car, at a friend’s apartment… just left. But I digress.
The point is, we had begun celebrating all of the novelties of living in a home without children of any age-causing impact.
They started working their way back in May.
It was Mother’s Day when the first one approached us about moving back home.
With all the love and warmth only a step-mother can convey, I responded with an emphatic, “No!”
He did not present an exit strategy and was not desperate. He was really just trying to save 10 minutes in commute time. I did not feel bad about turning him down. He moved in with his mom. We see him often.
The second request from his brother came a few months later.
He announced he was enlisting in the military and needed a place to stay until he went to boot camp. The date was unclear. He did not have a job or a car. Again we said, “No!” He moved in with his mom.
The third request followed on the heels of this one.
This son returned home from the Bay Area after accepting a position with a former employer locally. He just needed a couple of weeks until he found a place. His mom’s place was crowded. We said “yes.”
Within a week, the youngest boy announced he too was moving back from the Bay Area to accept a job in Grass Valley. He moved into the room across the hall from his brother.
A month later, and the first back in has moved out again.
My husband confessed he is sad to see him go. And I confess I enjoy these young people more than ever. I love hearing about their challenges and their accomplishments. But I don’t think providing room and board indefinitely is teaching them anything that will help them become independent, self-reliant contributors to society.
I am not sad to see my refrigerator actually store food, as was the intention when we purchased it.
For the last month, my ability to keep food in our house for more than a day had become the ultimate challenge.
While raising our brood, I grew accustomed to purchasing two gallons of milk, several loaves of bread and the value pack of pretty much everything offered. But as they began their initial exodus, I revised my purchasing patterns to more accurately reflect the size of the household. I quickly became accustomed to having things stay exactly where I left them. I planned for leftovers as another meal. That luxury quickly disappeared with the return of one boy but with two at home, it was impossible.
I see light at the end of the tunnel.
The lone child (young adult) has announced the possibility of a rental on the horizon.
As I was scheduling rehearsal for the latest happy dance, I got a message from one of mine: “Um , Mom… do you think I could stay with you for a month or two while I save some more money…”
It’s time to hide the good towels again. We were so close.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is the business development manager at The Union. Contact her at email@example.com.
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From all the residents of Grass Valley Senior Apartments, thank you to the firefighters, police department air support and everyone who responded to the Bennett Fire. God bless you all. You are all heroes.