Today my son left. In a good way.
If life is lived in three acts, childhood, adulthood and old age, Rob has just finished Act I. He graduated college in May and got the job he wanted most. He had been living in his boyhood room for the last six months with home run baseballs hit out of Roemer Park, the Harry Potter series, and a Chicago Bulls comforter. He's been saving his money and preparing to pounce on an apartment in the city when his friends found jobs.
I have loved having him here. I loved that after a hard day figuring out what work was, he came home sweet home for a hot dinner at my table. I made sure there was always milk in the refrigerator, toilet paper in the bathroom, and clean underwear in the basket. I thought he might stay till spring, but his friends said the word, and in two weeks he was gone.
Rob arranged the move. He reserved a 26-foot moving truck and shopped for a 60-inch flat screen TV. I digested that my assistance was generally not needed. I was glad to make a minimal contribution by washing the found-at-last-minute mattress pad, and donning my rubber gloves to scrub some mold off a dresser taken from the basement.
I'm not weepy. I'm not. He's living in Chicago, only about ten miles away. His office is not far from our house, so I suspect we'll still see a lot of him after work (if I've made dinner) or in the morning (if he needs clean socks from Joel's drawer.) He is a child who does not need a lot of distance from us, and for that I'm grateful.
But it has occurred to me that when my younger son comes home from college, the nest will not be full. It will never be full in that same way again. Rob lives somewhere else now.
It's as it should be. By all accounts, my mothering has been a huge success. But the bitter part of the bittersweet moment is not that he's in Act II.
It's that I'm in Act III.