From Bust to Boomerang

From Bust to Boomerang

Just when we were getting used to our empty nest—and starting to enjoy it—Taylor decided to move back in.

The day our youngest finally left home, my husband and I carried on as if she were going off to Antarctica. In reality, Taylor had just been accepted into a ballet company in New York, the fulfillment of her childhood dream.

"Don't worry. She'll be okay," my husband said.

I wasn't worried about Taylor. I was worried about us. After raising three children and caring for their dogs, cats, parrots and snakes, let's just say that Tom and I were ready for some quality time without the drama and flea collars. But we hadn't been truly alone in nearly 30 years and, frankly, I was nervous about it.

"We are two people in a five-bedroom house," I said one morning. "Should we sell it and move into a condo like the Andersons? Or convert the kids' rooms into something else?"

Tom quickly vetoed moving. He had designed the house when we were newlyweds and had it built on a lot that had once belonged to his grandparents. He was deeply attached not just to the house but to the land itself.

After mulling it over for several days, we figured it out. One of our son's bedrooms would become Tom's "man cave," a comfy den in which he could binge-watch the History Channel and work on his pet project – family genealogy. Our other son's room would remain a guest room, minus the sports memorabilia and lava lamp. Taylor's room, which was filled with ballet posters, stuffed animals and a canopy bed, would become my space – where I would do yoga, meditate and write poetry.

First came the yard sale. After consulting our children, everything they no longer wanted was up for grabs. With that money, we bought paint (pale gold for Tom, celadon for me) and items we had always wanted but had considered too indulgent. A leather recliner for Tom. An indoor Zen water fountain for me.

I filled my meditation room with plants, wicker baskets, hanging crystals, scented candles, embroidered cushions and hung a Japanese silk tapestry on the wall.

The transformation wasn't just in the room. It was in me. Being a Mom had been my 24/7 job and Taylor had demanded the multi-tasking skills of an air traffic controller. My daughter is beautiful, bright and vivacious. She's also absent-minded and disorganized. She forgot to unplug her hot iron so many times that we're on a first name basis with the local fire department. If I ever wanted to find her, all I'd have to do is follow her trail of sneakers, nail polish bottles and pizza crusts.

With our newly created private spaces, Tom and I had never been happier. He relished discovering his 17th century ancestors, while I finally achieved the King Pigeon Pose without breaking my neck. So when Taylor called to say she'd be home for Thanksgiving, I was as relaxed and carefree as the Dali Lama.

"That's wonderful, Sweetheart," I cooed. "We can't wait to see you."

The day Taylor arrived she pecked me on the cheek, tossed her parka on the floor, and went off to inspect her old room.

"Where's my bed?" she howled.

"I told you what we were doing. You said you were okay with it."

"Yeah, but that was before," she said.

"Before what?" I held my breath.

"Before I decided I hate New York and don't want to study ballet anymore," she said, flopping down onto a cushion, tears streaming down her pretty face. I sat beside her and rocked her in my arms.

"Baby, this is your home. This will always be your home," I said. "You can stay in the guest room until you figure things out."

"I'm not a guest," Taylor huffed. "This is my room and I want it back."

Goodbye nirvana! Hello Momville! Once again, our electric bill is sky high and my kitchen is starting to resemble a chemistry lab. The good news is that a young fireman has started to show an interest in Taylor that has nothing to do with her ability to set our home ablaze.

If you are an empty nester thinking about converting your children's rooms, involve them in the process and don't make any assumptions about that third grade volcano. More importantly, remember that there is no statute of limitations on when they might move back. If you get rid of their bed to create more space, consider replacing it with a love seat sleep sofa. Because there is no place like home.


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