The Revolving Door Years
Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older / Time may change me / But I can’t trace time
Once again, wisdom is gained in hindsight. The uneasy anticipation of the looming empty-nest stage overshadowed the reality of the storm that was in fact delivered. I sensed an approaching tornado, uncertain as to where the dust would settle. Apprehensive, I doubted how I could possibly reinvent myself following a 20-plus year whirlwind chapter of childrearing and family life. I could not foresee or imagine a calm approaching, in the wake of the chaos.
One ‒ two ‒ three, and poof the kids leave for campus life. Each subsequent departure adds its own current to the oncoming windstorm. The seasons go round and round, and so begins a new and rewarding chapter: the revolving door years. The last kid leaves and within a year the first one graduates and returns, albeit temporarily. Who knew? Empty-nest was in fact temporary and transitory; family life is fluid. It’s absolutely true, nothing lasts forever. Current adult kids’ cycle: Study‒work‒play. Repeat.
Apparently, the debris from the revolving door years has settled – in the garage. The physical reality of the revolving door stage demands the garage become an interim storage space for all things deemed in-between locations. Among other must have items: a bar fridge, space-saving room heater, and tacky wall hangings saved from college dormitory rooms; inexpensive folding lawn chairs and bikes once upon-a-time used at summer camp or on campus. A bizarre collection of assorted not-yet-ready-for-trash or Kjiji items are accumulating like a (junk) heap in a no-man’s land, waiting to be reclaimed or somehow refurbished, reused or recycled.
The revolving door cycle: from home to dorm to off-campus housing and back home again. What is the litmus test for keeping this accumulated stuff – packed-moved-and unpacked?
The revolving door cycle: moving out, moving in and everything in-between. Living with roommates, can-mates, housemates, just visiting, boyfriends and girlfriends visiting, how many should we set for at the dinner table? Everyone is welcome.
The revolving door cycle is a time of personal, marital and family evolution; we are continually making adjustments and regrouping. Sharing cars, meal preparation and household routines fall back into place, more or less. We learn to live together again as adults, and there are some growing pains along the way, transitions are always tricky. Remember toddlers? Teens? Once again, there is no clear picture ‒ the revolving door years can be blurry, with more scheduling variables than ever. I’m never quite sure whose shoes will be found at the front door and for how long they will remain. Not to mention shuffling house keys and car keys. Phone chargers. Each year, I wonder; will this be our final family vacation? Of course, I certainly hope not. In the meantime, I can look forward to family gatherings, reunions and stay-cations. Or simply, group messaging. Our Family chat group is filled with amusing updates, inside jokes, GIPHYs and utter nonsense.
Every generation of young adults faces its own nexus of circumstances to navigate: the job market, the housing market, the political and economic climate. Not least, the generation gap between progressive trends and old-fashioned expectations. The freedom to choose living in or moving out is a wonderful luxury to be carefully deliberated upon. As parents of young adult children we discover that development (at every stage) does not always follow a linear path, there is certainly not one optimal formulaic timeline to growing-up. Recall the winding path journeyed when we played the Game of LIFE ™ of Hasbro? Real life is not quite so simple as in “spin to win”. Inevitably, there are unexpected twists and turns along the way. Let’s rest assured; the Millennials will make their way into the world, in their own way and in their own time. And we Gen Xers will be right here, happily cheering and coaching them all the way. Or some will say, we will be hovering not far from our helicopter launching pad.
Caution: Do not get whacked in the head by the revolving door because you are mindlessly texting instead of paying attention or “living in the moment”. Multitasking almost always comes at a cost.
For now, I will stay right where I am, whirling in the revolving door years.
Request: please let me know if you will be home for dinner.