Here’s a snippet of what Long Novels, Exhaustion, Worry, Stress, Anxiety, Insomnia, Doubt, Mood Swings and Tears are made of:
- Realizing your children are never moving home again and your house is too empty, too big, too lonely, too expensive and too much work to justify staying in it.
- Making the decision to sell the house.
- Scheduling appointments with four real estate brokers to find the “ideal” one.
- Deciding on a price that is both realistic and fair while trying not to reminisce about how much money you’ve poured into the house over 17 years and trying not to take it personally when the broker tells you just because you love the acqua hand-made tile in the bathroom the buyer might want to rip it out (thus, to them, it could be rendered worthless).
- Getting the house ready to sell, which means not only putting a lot of “stuff” in storage but making it look like no one lives there, or if they do, they are at all times spotlessly clean, meticulously neat and miraculously absent whenever a real estate broker comes with a client, even if it is 9:00 AM on a Sunday morning or smack in the middle of dinnertime.
- Making sure you hide all your valuables because utter strangers will be walking through your house; but then again, who knows what’s valuable to someone with sticky fingers? (It could be the framed photo you took 10 years ago of the Golden Gate Bridge that used to sit propped up on your dresser.)
- Waiting anxiously for an offer when the same person comes back for a second, third and fourth look with their husband, their children, their parents and finally their in-laws…and you never hear from them again.
- Accepting the fact that even though you scrubbed and cleaned before a showing, someone is no doubt letting their young child run through your house, leaving their fingerprints on your polished piano (maybe even playing the piano). And despite leaving shoe covers (the kind they wear in operating rooms) in a prominent spot near the door, realizing that people are not using them when you come home and see the remnants of tracked-in mud (or is it dog poop?) on your carpet (and you no longer own a dog).
- Seeing cars drive by very slowly, or even stopping and parking at the curb for indefinite periods of time and wondering if someone is casing your house and you should call the cops or if it’s just an interested buyer pondering the possibilities.
- Getting an offer. Negotiating the price and accepting the offer. Agreeing on a closing date. Putting a non-refundable deposit down on your new apartment, which you are beyond excited about. Hiring a mover. Packing. Calling the electric company, newspaper delivery, post office and all your other suppliers to inform them you’ll be moving. Getting excited about your move – finally! – which is just two weeks away.
- Receiving a call from your attorney telling you that the buyers were turned down for their mortgage and you won’t be moving after all.
- Losing your (sizable) deposit. Unpacking.
Life goes on. You break your wrist. Put your dad in hospice. Resign yourself to another winter spent in the quiet, dark, snowy suburbs.
- Putting the house back on the market and starting all over again.
But here’s the so-called good news: WE’VE MOVED!!
More about that as soon as I unpack some more cartons…
And in the meantime, if you want to read more about what it REALLY means to have an empty nest, you can click on over to my other blog, Midlife Matters, that I write for a wonderful website, healthywomen.org.