“So, you’re really an empty nester now,” a friend said to me shortly after my son’s wedding last month. Her comment caught me a bit off guard, since my kids have been grown and gone for quite a while now. But with both of them now married, that makes my husband and me empty nesters in a whole new way.  And it got us thinking about our house in a whole new way, too.

Our son left home when he joined the Marines right out of high school, and lived with us again only briefly while he transitioned back into civilian life. Our daughter moved out ten years ago when she left for college in Florida, which is where she met her future husband, and where they now live.

Still, both of the kids’ bedrooms in our home remained pretty much as they left them.  We weren’t having trouble letting go or accepting their new lives, and we weren’t trying to hang on to the memories of having them here. Frankly, we didn’t need the space for other purposes – as with the couple in a TV commercial who pretty much eliminated their son’s bedroom when they expanded their kitchen as soon as he moved out.

Now, though, we decided it was time to do something.

We started by asking the kids what they wanted out of their rooms, and what we should do with everything else. They each reclaimed some of the things that were still here, and told us to donate or toss the rest, which we’re now doing.

One thing led to another, and once the rooms were cleared out we came to another realization. The carpeting – which is the same carpeting that was here when we moved in seventeen years ago, and has supported four humans and a black lab since then – is now pretty worn and shabby. So it was time to replace it.

As we’re emptying out drawers, cabinets, and bookcases in order to move furniture out of the rooms being carpeted, we’re experiencing a number of “Wow – I forgot we had this” moments. As well as, “Why in the world were we hanging on to this?”

Since I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I was even more motivated to get rid of some things I’ve been hanging on to, although this doesn’t come easily to me. The book claims that there are only two reason people have trouble letting go of things: a fear for the future, and difficulty letting go of the past. I suppose I’ve got a bit of each.

But that’s not stopping us from tossing or donating a lot of things we don’t need anymore. It’s actually a therapeutic process, even though it’s also an exhausting and emotionally draining one. I know, however, that when it’s done, our house will feel brand new again. It will be less cluttered and crowded, and more welcoming and relaxing. And it will be everything two serious empty nesters could want.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on August 18, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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