Jane and Michelle loaded their car Tuesday night and left home before 7 am Wednesday morning. I hugged each one of them and then we group hugged. Joe and I stood on the driveway and waved good-bye to our girls just like I had imagined. Tears started flowing freely as the white Lexus was disappearing from the sight. Joe and I got into the house and hugged each other.

“A job well done to both of us! Now it’s their turn to get out there and build their own lives. They’ll be fine.” Joe stroked my back with these comforting words.

I nodded. I just miss my girls. I miss their laughter, their endless chatting with each other and their distinctive ways of waking up in the morning. Just by listening, I could figure out who was up and coming down the stairs. I didn’t have to go to Meijer all summer because Jane and Michelle did all the grocery shopping. They also made it possible for Jake to attend the various summer programs.

I got Jake ready for his first day of second grade and went upstairs to straighten up Jane and Michelle’s rooms and pull the sheets, blankets and pillowcases off for wash. Realizing that these spaces would now be empty most part the year made me emotional again. Making the beds in the afternoon didn’t get easier. I intentionally stayed a few extra minutes in the rooms, looking at everything that had been left behind. Then it struck me that these bedrooms would remain clean for a long time. To cheer myself up, I began to compile a list of the benefits in my mind of having a half-empty nest and came up with the following:

– Quieter house at night. The master bedroom of our house is on the first floor. So when Jane and Michelle’s friends hung out in our family room to watch TV, occasionally bursting into laughter or talking loudly late at night, it made our sleep fragmented. Last night Joe and I went to bed a little after 9:30 pm and it felt wonderful.
– Fewer dishes to wash. Every morning I woke up to a stack of plates, bowls, cups, utensils, pots and pans in the sink. Same after work. Now the kitchen will be the same way I leave it at night.
– Less grocery to buy and garbage to take out. The girls like to eat. That’s all I am going to say about this.
– Clear driveway. With both Jane and my niece’s cars gone, Joe and I get to reclaim the driveway!
– Cleaner house.
– No more “Mom, did you see my …?” for a while

Composing the list made me chuckle. Things can get tricky even for people who love one another to share the same residence. We learned to compromise and be considerate of each other’s needs, which enabled us to live in harmony. We had a great summer. It was all worth it!

I texted the girls in the afternoon to see if they had settled in their dorm and apartment. They were actually having a hard time. The campus must have been jam-packed with cars, students and parents. Jane scratched the Lexus trying to parallel-park. They also had to move the bed she had bought from a friend to her apartment. I felt bad for not being there. The bed thing simply slipped our mind. I asked if they needed dad to go and help out. Jane said it would be too late and plus they were almost done.

When I contacted them again around 5 pm, both were in much better mood. Michelle boasted that her room was bigger than she thought and the air condition was really nice after spending most of the day in the heat outside. When Jane was a freshman, she got a crappy room in a non air-conditioned building. The room was right by the stairs and across from the public bathroom. Now Jane’s apartment off campus was very comfortable and she was happy to meet all her roommates again.

I can’t wait to see our girls and their rooms this Saturday. We are going to deliver the remaining of their stuff, help them get things organized and take them out to dinner. After that I am going to look forward to their next home visit. Meanwhile, we still have little Jake to enjoy, to love and to laugh with.