Monday, January 18, 2010

Retreat or refresh? Maybe it's both.

I wonder about the word “nesting.” I never thought much about it, other than to note that I uniformly hate it when the modern lexicon turns a noun into a verb.

And yet, how do you explain the following, other than to chalk it up to “nesting?” The boys all returned to college yesterday, and as we packed up, unplugged and loaded everything into and then out of the car, I knew what I would do when I returned home. Strip their beds, turn and flip mattresses, then wash everything from pads to pillows, only to remake them, complete with hospital corners and fluffed up pillows. I grant you, that’s a far cry from twigs, twine and tree bark – or anything else birds use to create a sturdy nest. But it felt right to me.

At various points in my life, I’ve thought about the comfort I could find in my parents’ home. Even as a grown woman with children of my own, I’ve had moments where the idea of curling up on my old bed, with a warm blanket pulled over me felt like it would solve a lot of problems. There have been days, admittedly most often when I was living with three children under the age of two, where I wanted nothing more than to take a very long nap in my old room. Maybe by sleeping in that space, I would feel closer to my younger self, one who had a lifetime ahead of her and none of the real world challenges of marriage, motherhood, jobs and responsibilities. Intellectually, I know nothing would change on the outside, but emotionally, the cocoon of safety and “everything will be okay” lingered in my imagination.

Maybe that’s what I’m trying to preserve for my own children. With every year, they’re inching closer to adulthood, and the thousands of good and bad adult things that come with it. They’re in the midst of the college experience, sleeping in beds that will provide little more than resting places for about a year before they move on. It may resonate for them in some small, unspoken way that ‘coming home’ means, among other things, that a soft, welcoming, familiar bed is waiting. One I’ve made up for them with love, affection, a bit of loneliness, a stretch to tuck in a corner that makes me feel every bit of my age, and a tiny sigh of relief/regret.

Since I moved out almost thirty years ago, I’ve never actually gone to my parents’ home and taken that tempting ‘escape from life’ nap. Knowing the option was there and available was almost as rejuvenating. I’m positive not one of my sons spends as much as a nanosecond contemplating his bed at home, or the sheets, the pillows, or the comforter on it. But I hope they know that in the decades ahead, it can be their quasi-escape from adulthood. It doesn’t really matter if they ever actually stretch out on it or not, nor does it matter where we call ‘home’ at that time. It’s there whenever they need it.


Pookie said...

This made me want to call my Mom and then snuggle by the fire with my college age daughter, quick, before she goes back to school.

renee said...

I hope you did just that! Sounds like a wonderful evening.

Thanks for your comment and welcome!

Amie Sugat said...

I missed out on that type of Home. I grew up on a rugged environment. its taken me eight years, but now I can finally sleep in a traditional bed. I still find a couch more comforting.

renee said...

Hi Amie -

Thank you for the perspective. Thought-provoking and a reminder that common experiences are not all that common.

My perspective on a couch: when I had my own couch for the first time, I took a lot of pleasure in falling asleep on it. Made me feel independent and grown up for some reason. Why I have no idea.

Thanks again for joining the discussion.