Empty Room

Well, it has happened. The Boy packed everything he owned into his little car and drove away from us to start his life as a grown up. I am thinking this is really not a good idea, and maybe I should have taken a leaf from the Italian mamas' bible, and raised a proper Mama's boy instead who would have been happy to stay home until he was thirty five...

It goes without saying that we are immensely proud of our boy. When he left school his tutor said in his valedictory address that The Boy was one of the nicest blokes he has ever known. And it is true, that IS his super power, and it is why we will miss him so much. His going away party went on for about two days and involved a lot of twenty year olds hula hooping on the back lawn, juggling, bouncing on the trampoline, skateboarding, hanging out in the cubby, and reliving all the stuff that they had all done together for their entire childhoods together. They even played all their old computer games for old times' sake, which is unfortunate, because now Posy has discovered them, and I'd hoped I would never have to listen to some of that horribly annoying computer game music again..

Posy is always the life of every party, and eventually I had to remove her and pop her in front of the telly with me to calm her down. But Toy Story 3 was on, the one where Andy leaves home, and gives away all his old toys. Which The Boy had just done. And at that end is the scene where Andy's mum walks into his empty room with him.. it was all too much really.

Remember leaving home when everything you owned fit into your car? The Boy is not a collector of things, and before he started packing he went down to the pub and filled up the boot with a rather large number of slabs of a particular kind of beer that is only available in town (we grow great beer here in Tasmania. I had never seen a hop garden until I moved here. They are so pretty - like giant beanstalks!). So his tiny car was already quite full. First he packed our old TV so he could watch The Ashes, and an airbed and sleeping bag, and a fan, because he is hoping it will be really HOT in his new home! That is all the furniture he currently owns. Then his guitar went in, then his clothes. For his birthday we bought him things like a frying pan and a toaster, and I had cleared out the cupboards and donated crockery and towels. I also hunted out the camping cutlery, and realised that most of it was the remains of the first 'everyday' set we owned when we got married (Grandma gave us an 'elegant' set that we still use when we need lots for parties). So he is all set, boy-like, because who really needs furniture anyway? And he has discovered you can find FREE furniture on Gumtree, so you never know, he might even have a chair or so in a couple of weeks!

When he wasn't paying attention I stuffed all the corners with cleaning products (because he may not think to buy those..) and groceries so he will have something to eat this week. I remember when my mother-in-law brought us a box of her homemade preserves and tins of hot chocolate and other goodies when we got married. We were at university and living on practically nothing at the time, and felt so good to be able to stock up the cupboards and know that whatever happened we would at least have jam!

Our biggest worry though, was that The Man wouldn't make it to say goodbye. The Man has been away on a work trip for three weeks, and in that time The Boy found a house, on the provision that he took possession today. So he had to get on the boat last night, which meant he had to leave home at four thirty yesterday afternoon. The Man was due home at 2.15. There was a scare the night before because his plane had to detour around Typhoon Haiyan, so he was worried he wouldn't make his Australian connection. When he made it with minutes to spare, everyone breathed again. But then, the plane which had to carry him all of an hour across Bass Strait decided to be broken. He was delayed by half an hour, then an hour, then FINALLY arrived home at four, with just enough time for a cup of coffee before The Boy hopped in his little car to drive away from us.

And now I have to go downstairs to take the sheets off his bed, and stand in that empty, empty room, and try to think only happy thoughts about how he is on his next most excellent adventure.


Unknown said…
Jo, im at work and cant remember where he is going. Is it Melbourne because i have a good desk to give away.

I love his going away party with his mates. How cool to relive those moments.

Let me know where OK!
Hugs Jo - sounds like it all went as well as could. cheers Wendy
Jo said…
Hey Lynda, yes, he's now a cool hipster Melbourne boy! Thanks for that offer, I'll let him know. He has a great-uncle with a trailer available!
Jo said…
And thanks Wendy. I am a sook, but all is well with the boy :)
Tammy said…
It sounds like you raised one heck of a young man. I'm so glad your husband made it in time to wish him off. While it is hard to part from him, it shows that you did your job as a parent quite well.
Anonymous said…
You're not a sook. You're a loving mother.

And I feel for the gap his going has created. Why can't we just go back for a bit? Knowing what we know now? I would like to go back and enjoy my time with my babies, without worrying about doing it right, or waiting for the next milestone. And I'd like to go back to when they were 7 and 12. So much fun to play with.

Have some more comfort food.
Jo said…
Tammy, he is so lovely. I really don't feel like I had much to do with that. Except not messing him up too much.
Lucinda, I have the advantage of having younger children too, so they benefit from my hindsight. Poor oldest guinea pig. Yes, more playing. Sometimes though, I remember really fun times we had with the older ones when they were little, and try to recreate it, like camping. Oops, we forgot to go camping with the younger ones till last year..
Tanya Murray said…
What a superb read! I know it's a bit sad and you nearly had me dropping my tears but the memories that rolled held it all together. Seriously your best post. What a great yarn spin (and who would have guessed you had such a grown up boy!) The missing man and the close call was a thrilling climax towards the end.
Heather said…
Hugs to you, Jo. Being a mother is so very, very hard.
Anonymous said…
My sister Pinky met her wonderful partner Jason when he moved into a unit near her and her kids noticed that all he had in his window was a kitchen chair...no other furniture. We had SUCH fun trying to work out if he was a serial killer or not but in the end I forced her to ask the poor man to the pub for happy hour (as you do) and we found out that he was a teacher and that his furniture truck had gotten waylaid...the stuff that stories are made of...there might be a daughter in law in the boot of that car ;).

Mum used to send us food packages because university is cruel to your bank balance. We loved those little tastes of home and I am sure your son will appreciate the first of many :). What an adventure your son is on! The start of his new life on his own and how excited he must be to be heading out on the high seas (quite literally in his case) to forge himself a trail. It's incredibly hard to have your children leave. The first one is the hardest. I cried buckets when we left the son-and-heir behind and I did it when he chose to live with his dad when we divorced.

Your kids don't see your pain; they only see your love in those little packages and bottles of Jiff. SO glad his dad got back to see him before he left. You won't have too long to be sad in that empty room. I am sure someone has their eyes on it and will be measuring it up as soon as you head out for a cup of tea and a commiseration bickie.
jo darling, that last line about stripping the sheets off his bed has me misty eyed.
what a beautiful post. will The Boy read it ever do you think?
i loved that you poked in cleaning products and food! he may scoff as he unpacks them ...but then appreciate it.
i especially loved that his tutor said he was a nice bloke. they are rare and sadly underrated creatures these days. you have done well as parents to raise a nice bloke; some girl some where some day will be very happy for that.
ChickenladyJane said…
All you can do is prepare them well for being independent and know they will come back :) My DD2 has just gone off to uni too and I miss her, so I totally understand.
Bless you! My mother misses me - she wished me back home on Friday night, and dad said to her, that'd only happen if something bad happened to Sarah (inferring breaking up with the boyfriend, or maybe me not being able to pay my mortgage?). Anyhow, I understand how much she cherishes me, and try to drop by once a week to see her and hang out (and eat her food, and take fresh eggs with me, and any clothes that take my fancy and and and!). But I know she doesn't mind, and they loving having me back with my two siblings who both live there for now. It's so lovely to read about this transition of yours, it really is!
Jo said…
Thanks Tanya, made myself cry again while I was writing, thinking 'get a grip, get a grip...'!
Heather, thankyou :)
Fran, I loved your story, you always have good ones, but I am a little concerned that thinking this man was a serial killer, you convinced your sister to ask him out?!!! I am so relieved to hear it turned out so well:)
e, yes, the nice bloke already has a nice girl. I don't understand how more men don't catch on - what women really want... is a thoroughly NICE bloke. It's not really that difficult..
Jane, it's just so sad, isn't it? I know he will come back, but I doubt he will ever live here again. It's the closing of a chapter..
Sarah, I said the same thing to a friend the other day. So I don't want to wish him home, because he'd have to be pretty incapacitated to give up his new-found independence!
You are a very kind daughter to keep going for visits. Keep being kind to your old mum, and hopefully my boy will be too!
Well, it is almost a week later, and I hope you are feeling a little more used to the Boy being gone. I'm glad your husband made it home in time! Glad your son remembered the beer. Oh, boys!

Lanie said…
Given that I have tears streaming down my face after reading this, I somehow think that I will find my 2 boys leaving a bit hard :) and they are only 7 and 10! I remember sobbing in Toy Story 3 too. Beautiful post. All the best.
Jo said…
Frances, as you say, Oh, boys! You and Lanie both have two lovely ones. Cherish them while they are around (easy advice to give, I know, I remember wanting to throttle my darling boy on many occasions, but one day you WILL miss them!).
Joolz said…
Dont you love how boys are so casual about the neccessities in life?

Its 5 years since my eldest daughter moved 400 kms away to Adelaide to start Uni at 18 years of age. I too, remember standing in the shell of her bedroom, just the furniture left, no other sign she had been there.

Now, about to turn 23, she is a beautiful young woman, she graduated in Marketing (Management), got a job at a media company just as she sat her last exam and has just had 2 years there so there's where 5 years have gone!

Best thing is, she loves to come home, requests Dad's BBQ steak, my potato bake, mushroom cream sauce and salad. She's now got plans to head to Europe in 2015 to spend 12 months working for her company. That will be the next heart tug!

Your boy will be fine. He has his family.
Jo said…
Thanks Joolz. I do think I'm lucky to have held onto him until he was 20. I'm so glad your lovely girl still wants to come home. I'm hoping The Boy will have fond enough thoughts of us to pop home occasionally!

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