One of the things that I didn’t spend much time thinking about before the kids moved out was how we were going to use those empty rooms. To be sure, there have been lots of suggestions—sewing room, home office, and exercise room, to name a few.
And I went all in on the sewing room idea at first. Even bought the quintessential IKEA “Alex” desk with lots of drawers (finally, drawers!). I got it all set-up, moved my computer and sewing machine up there, only to realize that I had nowhere to cut fabric. I quickly realized that unless I got rid of the bed in that room, there was just not space to turn this into my sewing room. Trust me, I’ve figured things every way possible and come out realizing the best place for my sewing room is exactly where it is—in the dining room (that we only use twice a year anyways). Someday, I’d like to move it up the loft directly above the dining room. But that will have to wait until Ben is truly out of the house and has taken his drum kit with him.
Back to the kids’ rooms. Once I accepted that I was not going to be using one of those rooms as a sewing space, I realized that both rooms needed some work to welcome the kids home for visits (and you know that they visit a lot). And looking into the future, a place where they can eventually stay with their partners (and God willing–grandkids!). Because having a welcoming place for them to stay here is a big priority for me.
It’s been my project this year to redo/update the two kids’ bedrooms. And this weekend, I feel like I’ve made some real progress on at least one of the rooms! The painting is done (even if I have a little regret about the color I chose), and the correct furniture has been installed (don’t ask about that debacle!). I headed out on Sunday afternoon and came back with bedding, two lamps, and a couple little décor items (thank you Home Goods!). I stacked up some art books (I love decorating with books) and it’s pretty homey! There is one big blank wall that really needs either some art or a quilt. We’ll see where that goes.
But. Even though I’m happy with the way this room is coming together, I’m still grappling with the fact that it’s unrecognizable as the boys’ childhood bedroom. I think it would be sweet for them to come home to the bedroom that they remember, instead of this perfectly nice, but no-memories attached room. By taking down all the posters and framed Presidential Academic Award certificates, I feel like I’m erasing their childhood from the house. It’s brought up some unexpected feelings.
Next year when I get around to cleaning out the closets…I’m sure it’s going to come up all over again.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. How about you?
As you know, I grew up an army brat. When I left home for college, I was leaving a bedroom I’d only slept in for a year and barely had time to make my mark on. I didn’t give it a second thought when I came home for Christmas freshmen year to find myself re-homed, so to speak, in a different bedroom, and I’m not sure that I can impress upon you how little it mattered to me.
Which makes me a little cavalier when it comes to this topic, I have to admit, in the same way I couldn’t understand why a good friend of mine was upset about her family relocating to a city two hours away at the beginning of her son’s high school career. It took me a while to take seriously the idea that it might be a big deal to leave all of your friends behind just as you were about to begin 9th grade. I’d left all of my friends constantly growing up, and not only that, I’d been to three high schools. I’d moved my senior year! Nothing to it.
But of course there was something to it, the same way there’s something to coming home from college to find that the room you’ve resided in since you were two has been repurposed as a sewing room or a tastefully redecorated guest room. It can be comforting, after all, to be surrounded by the relics of your childhood when you’re a young adult, even though you in no way want to give up your independent life. While I never returned to a childhood bedroom, per se, I do remember coming home one Christmas when I was in grad school and got the flu. It was lovely to be taken care of again by my mom! She even brought out the old satin comforter she brought out when we were sick as kids. (I can’t believe it survived all of our moves!) It was the closest to being a little kid as I’d been in years, and I loved being babied, in spite of the sore throat and the fever.
I have to confess that Jack was barely out of high school before we started transforming his room into a guest room. We got rid of the saggy twin beds, the curtains I’d bought at Sears in 2007, the brown rug that had come with the house. A lot of this transformation happened while Jack was home for the summer after his freshmen years in college, so he had a say in the furniture we chose and the colors we picked. To the best of my knowledge, he was fine with the redecorating. For the last two years of high school, he’d spent most of his time at home downstairs in the study, which is where his gaming computer was located. I don’t know how attached he actually felt to his old room–not half as attached as he felt to that computer, I suspect.
In stark contrast, Will’s room is more or less the same as he left it. We did updates and upgrades over the years, finally painting over the orange paint he’d asked for in second grade with a more sophisticated (and less jarring) light gray. He’s the kid who tacked and taped things up on his walls, and I’ve left most of it for now. Unlike Jack, Will spent almost all of his time in his room. I think he might be a little bummed to come home and find it stripped bare of all traces of his old self.
Now, if Will doesn’t come back next summer, I suspect he won’t come back to live with us ever again (although as we know, another pandemic could change that). And once that happens, his room is mine. To do what with, I have no idea. I’m going to wait for inspiration to hit.
The fact is, you never know what might come up. My neighbors down the street, Amy and Anthony, made space for one of their daughters and her boyfriend during the pandemic. The daughter got pregnant, and nine months later, there were three generations living in the old family abode. A new baby was born this summer, and I haven’t heard a word about anyone moving out. Sometimes I see Anthony out walking with three-month-old August cradled in his arms, and I think that could be a good life–but one you would need a lot of rooms for!
My goal right now is to continue with the Great 2023 Attic Declutter, which the summer months put on hold. I think before I can dream big about the house and what it might look like in the future, I need to deal with the past. Wish me luck finishing up before the end of the year!