It feels like urban camping. I bring my sleeping bag, wear jeans, no make-up. I make sure my clothes are dark, something that doesn’t show newsprint and an outfit that can go from oven cleaning to dinner.
It is our third child, our baby that is moving to Chicago. The others have had their day to do the same. The first child is more settled now, has a house after moves to more than five apartments, one of them involved packing her life in a U haul to New York. Our son too has moved, first in college, then a shared house after graduation and to a condo in Seattle. He seems to handle the heavy lifting on his own, with the help of his friends and a visit from Mom and Dad after the fact.
Getting a place of one’s own is a life passage. It is what us parents want. The natural order. We dream of the day.
Let me share with you what I know now about moving adult children.
- Round up all the various mattress pads, bath mats, kitchen utensils, shoe organizers they insisted on for their dorm rooms or last residence. Offer it up while they are packing. If the answer is no. Get rid of it. Donate it. Never again will they sleep in an XL twin bed.
- Invite them to take their yearbooks, athletic trophies, Halloween costumes, text books, sporting equipment, prom dresses, and albums you made for their graduation parties.
- On the way to their distant city, think of all the positives you heard about the place. The woodwork, the hipness of the neighborhood, how hard it is to find a place now. Only share details about the downside with your husband.
- When you get there say nothing about the neighborhood graffiti, the bars or lack of bars on the windows, but rather the convenience of the metro stop, the public library just down the street. The cool art deco tile in the foyer.
- Unload and unpack cheerfully. Carry what you can and make smaller trips. Avoid the wrestling of large furniture. Bring with you, paper towels, a bucket, hand soap, toilet paper and a tool box. Bring something living or once alive. A pumpkin. A slip of a houseplant. A Christmas tree.
- Start a to-do list. Replace the burner bibs. Wipe out the medicine cabinet. Make a name plate for the mailbox. Add the new address into your phone.
- Save the trip to IKEA for the second day. Go early. Have a list. Remind them it’s a lot of assembly and you won’t live here forever.
- Break down the boxes, flatten the newspapers that have been used as packing. Rewash the glassware and dishes. Hang the shower curtain.
- Make a run to Target, use the coupons at Bed Bath & Beyond. Make a simple dinner so you can test out the kitchen.
- Obsess over finding a magnetic hook that would be just right to hang the oven mitt on the side of the refrigerator. Tighten a loose knob, cut a bit of shelf paper to perfection.
- Save an excellent book for the trip home. It will keep your mind off the back stairs to the alley. The condition of batteries in the carbon monoxide detectors. The distance between here and home.