Moving out comes with many definitions

November 17, 2011|Susan Reimer

My daughter has moved out of the family home, saying that she wants a chance to decorate her own living space, and while I am sad that the last of my two birds has left the nest, at least she didn't storm out saying that she was offended by our values, which is pretty much how I left home, back in the day.

There were tensions, however, over our differing definitions of "moving out."

I hold the opinion that moving out means moving all your stuff out, even if some of it lands in the nearest trash can. And while I am not opposed to finding a place for treasured keepsakes, I am not so sanguine about old purses, shoes, scarves and miscellaneous gym shorts and T-shirts.

If you go, my theory is, the stuff you don't want goes with you – along with the stuff you do want.

We wrangled over the junk she left in her room for longer than it took her to find an apartment, and when I said, in rather a loud voice as I recall, that the next stop for everything was Goodwill, she said, "Fine. Do you want me to remove all of my DNA, too?"

I admit, I hesitated. But only because her departure revealed a heck of a lot of dirt, cobwebs and dust — the result of her demand that no one invade her private space using that wholly transparent excuse that they were there to clean.

(When it came to the duct tape that was used to hold a window air conditioner in place, I bit my tongue.)

Anyway, I tried to connect with her by saying that I, too, was looking forward to a chance to "decorate," but I was misunderstood.

She accused me of secretly plotting to convert her bedroom to a bed-and-breakfast, as if that were a bad thing, and declared that the room was still her room.

Well, um, not really, I said. And emotions erupted all over again.

I understand that the current economy has made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for our children to live on their own. They simply aren't earning enough money, if they have a job at all.

And I recognize that those jobs can disappear at any moment. I have watched it happen to the children of my friends. And I know that very often, that means a move back home.

And I know — heck, I have written about the fact — that we actually get along better with our children than we might have with our parents at this age because our politics are not too dissimilar. So close quarters isn't as fractious as it might be for children in their 20s and their moms and dads.

But I was hesitant to go on the record endorsing such a move as a concrete part of a life plan. The goal here is to make this independence work, not to bail out at the slightest car repair bill.

I didn't get a lot of support from my partner in this parenting, who said he would pay her to stay. He may have actually opened a channel for a secret subsidy. I don't know. I don't want to know.

And, truth be told, I make just about any excuse to cook, pack it up in Tupperware and then make the call to my daughter, saying casually that I just happen to have some leftovers.

But that's because I miss her and I like seeing her. I enjoy her stories and her pontifications and I find her energy infectious. She makes me happy just by being in the house.

At the end of the day, however, I must say that I love the paint I have chosen for her room, and the linens. I am having a blast choosing light fixtures and new knobs for the dresser. She is having fun decorating, too, I think. She's been emailing me pictures of her apartment.

I hope this works out for both of us.

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