Polo shirts drape the dining room chairs. Trash bags full of towels and sheets line the upstairs hallway. Important papers (not mine) blanket the kitchen counters. Then there are the mountain ranges of stuff in the basement.
My home is a young adult staging area. I’m going nuts.
Eighteen or so summers ago, when my boys were preschoolers, my biggest worry was, “Will they ever learn to swim?” They were hesitant. I was a nervous wreck. I feared they’d become members of the guys-who-can’t-swim club. I’d drive the sweet little dudes to tadpole lessons and watch them like a hawk.
At that time, which doesn’t seem so long ago, our house flotsam included more controllable things that could fit in drawers and toy boxes. Like swimmies and goggles for the surf, Legos and train sets for the turf.
Not now. The boys have learned to swim in all kinds of ways.
Our firstborn, the recent college graduate and owner of bulky scuba gear, is officially starting his career. He’s about to rent an apartment void of “off campus living!” subtitles. No more thunder rolls from upstairs neighbors’ kegs. No more wobbly, duct taped desk. He’s been gathering items for his own more serious household, a young professional engaged-to-be-married guy pad.
Meanwhile, our youngest continues to grow a Lincoln-esque beard in South America, where it’s winter and the Uruguayan study abroad semester never seems to end. (Soon, soon.) He, too, will be moving again later this summer, but back to “off campus living!” in the U.S. After two stretchy semesters on two different continents, beardy-boy’s archipelagos and peninsulas of college apartment stuff have actually collected dust. And a bit of my ire.
With these two on-the-move dudes, I have learned to hopscotch over plastic crates, half-packed electronics and rogue lamps. Who needs a gym? Not me.
In these times of transition my hope is the kids appreciate the mother-ship that is our home. It’s a (free) climate-controlled storage facility, complete with (free) middle-aged moving assistants on perpetual standby. Also, while between addresses, our young men have access to all kinds of (free) food, including Haagen-Dazs ice cream novelties and balanced meals.
Maybe I wouldn’t have been bothered as much by the clutter and disarray if we hadn’t had other stuff going on these past weeks. Peak flotsam season has unfortunately coincided with an abundance of home repair and improvement activity. The kind where complete strangers have to poke around every single room of the house. That’s a nightmare in normal times, but infinitely worse now. I have no sense of control as I find myself apologizing to a parade of technicians, estimators and duct cleaners.
“Excuse the mess,” I gesture with wildly flailing arms, “Our sons are moving to and from various places. Soon-ish.”
“Really” I insist.
“They are,” I mumble.
Was that a side-eye? A too-slow nod?
Too add to the chaos, at the height of this repair guy parade, we DIY re-stained our raised deck. And though it was an outdoor project, I had this brilliant back-saving idea: Why lug everything up and down the deck stairs? Let’s keep the heavy stuff lateral! So we rolled the, greasy stained propane tank grill right into our kitchen. Along with our oversized patio table. The outdoors were indoors for days.
And with this Hillbilly-Chic Clutterpalooza backdrop, I would wonder as I signed technicians’ completion invoices, “Is it a normal thing to have a plush Yoda Easter basket at my elbow? In July? Or any time?”
I’m neither a hoarder nor a Grey Gardens wannabe. But I sure do seem like one right now.
Yet I realize all of this is a blessing. Our lives are busy. And best of all, our boys are swimming.
Reach Denise Snodell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseSnodell