When I first moved to Illinois, all three of our kids were in college and we were experiencing our first Empty Nest Experience. I was just coming off a couple decades of driving kids to events and making birthday cakes that resembled the plane crash scene in Lost. I brought with me every kind of cookie decorating sprinkle, paper cupcake holders for every holiday, and lots of sports trophies. But it was clear that – in a place that had never known me as the mother of three – I was simply a middle-aged woman with a career.
I never once used those sprinkles or cupcake holders. My college students who became young professionals were no longer interested. And neither was I.
And so yesterday, I packed these fun baking items up or threw them out in the ongoing adventure of moving back to N.C. There might be a future when I make cookies with children again, but it won’t be anytime soon. There go the sprinkles.
When you move from one house to another, the reality that we are also moving from one chapter of life to another becomes very clear. People who live in the same house throughout their lives are blessed in many ways. There is comfort and security in knowing that your former life is still all around you. Or at least it’s in the attic or basement.
And it’s also true that when you never have to move to a different house, it feels softer when you move through the different seasons of life. We can put that the stroller and toddler chair in the attic if we can’t bear to part with it. And then we can put the roller skates up there. And then we can put the science projects up there. And then we can put the high school yearbooks up there. And after 40+ years in the same home, we have an attic full of treasures that someone else will get to deal with after we die or move to a retirement community. There’s a comfort in not having to part with artifacts that mark the past.
When we move more often, traveling lightly becomes practical and psychologically necessary. Practically speaking, it’s expensive to keep moving All The Stuff from one place to another. Psychologically, it helps delineate the changes happening to us.
So, yes my nervous system is on overload this week. All of our nervous systems are on overload – whether we are moving or missing people or exhausted from home schooling or terrified of surviving financially.
I suggest that we find something in the thick of all this transition that brings relief. Maybe – at your house – baking cupcakes or cookies would be the perfect comforting activity. I have plenty of sprinkles and cupcake liners if you need them.