"Don't forget to lock the back door," Christopher yelled down to me from our bedroom upstairs.
"I know, I'll do it now," I replied.
The truth is, I needed the reminder. We always leave the back door unlocked because we never know just quite who is going to be coming in for the night
When you live in a newly-emptied nest, there are a lot of things you have to suddenly get used to, and a lot of behaviors that you have to change. All of a sudden.
Fewer grocery store trips. Our grocery bill has plummeted since the kids went back to college. Seriously, it's like we just got a big raise or something.
Not rushing home at the end of the day. Gone are the days when I would stress about getting out of work on time to make dinner, go to a school function or help with homework. I can take my darn sweet time now.
Unscheduled weekends. My partner and I just look at each other now and ask, "What should we do this weekend?" Having two back-to-back days of no scheduled events and no mountainous to-do lists makes things, well, quiet.
Locking the back door. As odd as it sounds, this is the toughest one to get used to. Since our home is right in the center of town, our place became a revolving door of activity as my kids and their friends would come in and out all day and sometimes all night long. We constantly had friends sleeping over with impromptu snack attacks at all hours. Since our garage door had a password-protected lock, we'd always leave the back door to the kitchen unlocked so that the kids could come in and out without a bother. We go to bed relatively early, far earlier than they did, so leaving the door unlocked kept it all easy.
Well now that both of our children are back at college, we don't have to leave that door unlocked anymore. At night before I go to bed, I walk over to that kitchen door and I turn the lock.
It's a not-so-subtle reminder that no one is coming home tonight and they'll be no breakfast to make in the morning. It's a constant reminder that life has changed, permanently, and that we no longer have children living with us.
Locking the back door is symbolic of our lifestyle now. It's just the two of us, entering a new chapter where life is quieter, more predicable, and relaxed a bit.
There's nothing wrong with any of it, it's just different.
I liked having that door unlocked because of the sense of home it brought and the sense of livelihood. We'll just have to create that in another way now.
Just the two of us.