My eldest daughter finished school this summer, and is on her gap year.
“Well what shall we do with her room?” I asked one Friday evening. The concerns of the week were fading and the possibilities of the weekend loomed…
My middle daughter thought it might be time to trade-up on bedrooms; after all, this one is bigger and she is now the senior child in the household; surely this was now her birth-right? My husband suggested that he really deserved a home-office with a decent view, as he has lots of studying to do this year, and having a comfortable office at home would encourage him to come home earlier from work. I thought it might suit a Syrian refugee family, my charitable side coming to the fore, but then I remembered my capitalist roots, and wondered how much we could charge a lodger, maximising our rent-a-room income. My youngest daughter suggested we turn it into an aquarium or swimming pool!
It was decided that my husband would get his office.
A day of removing teenage junk, and deep cleaning ensued, her surviving possessions captured in plastic crates and consigned to storage. Then we decided it needed paint; furniture was dismantled, taken away and stored in other rooms. Different furniture was brought in and assembled; swiftly the room took on new purpose. We had a grand re-opening of the room, and treated ourselves with a take-away. My husband bought new stationery. It was as if all traces of my eldest daughter were systematically obliterated and we were celebrating. It felt wrong, rather disloyal.
I certainly do not want to be one of those elderly parents who continue to live in the family house that is now far too big for them, with shrine-like rooms reserved for offspring who seldom return, tiptoeing past the echoes of family-life past; but at the same time this getting-on-with-it attitude, felt too abrupt. She has been gone for only a few weeks, and yet we have gobbled-up her room, put her car on auto-trader, and booked our next family holiday without her…
It will take me rather longer to adjust to the change in my household, than I had first thought.