Making Room for Sarah
I had taken the last two weeks of December off, and I had plans. In addition to spending a few days up in Oklahoma with my family for Christmas, I had planned to work on some writing projects, finish up a couple of house projects, and catch up on some reading.
The best laid plans can go awry.
By the end of the first day of vacation, Sarah, age 20, moved into my house. I’ve known Sarah since she was the 3-year-old foster daughter of friends, and she’s the same age as my oldest niece. We didn’t see each other after she was adopted at age 6 by another family, but we reconnected a couple of years ago. As a fellow adoptee, we’ve talked about adoption and birth families.
After she moved in, I found myself facing another problem – making room for Sarah. I bought my 4-bedroom house in 2009, and sometimes it seemed amusing to me as a single person to have so much room. To help alleviate the stuff at my parents’ house, I had systematically brought back many things from my childhood home and placed them in a bedroom. The bedroom, complete with my grandmother’s bed and old toys on the shelves, had become an ode to my childhood in some ways. Since I had the space, I didn’t have to rush and make any decisions about things.
Ready or Not?
As a PANK, I’ve lived alone for most of my adult life, and it’s one of those things I think about when dating. How would it be for me if I did have a significant other around 24/7? In fact, I have talked about the worry of being “too set” in our ways as we get older with some of the guys I have dated.
Even though this will be a short-term situation, it’s been an interesting mental and physical exercise to make room for someone. Much like my early days of becoming an Auntie, I feel like I’m just bumbling along, feeling my way.
Some things are obvious. It’s nice to have someone help out with things around the house. Cooking for more than one person seems much easier, but take-out for two is more expensive than it is for one.
Although I am a high-end extrovert, I’ve already discovered I do need some privacy and alone time, and I don’t like sharing my laptop and my bathroom. There are things I have to overlook for my own sanity or because they’re not that important. There are some things I can’t overlook, such as the hair dye drips on the bathroom rug.
One thing I’ve realized is how important it is to communicate about the details. You know, things such as how to turn on the TV, how to set the alarm, where are extra paper towels. I’m still discovering – and expect to keep discovering – those details that I need to communicate. It’s definitely a learning process.
I’m happy to help Sarah out, but I’m quickly discovering that she’s helping me as well. Making mental, emotional and physical room for someone else in your life is a gift. Once Sarah moves out in May, I’m a bit worried about feeling like my empty nester friends, but I know it will be easier for me to make room for someone else.
During my Christmas visit with my family, my 13-year-old niece and I were talking about colleges and careers, something she seems to have on her mind of late. “Well, you know, Aunt Janice, I can go to the Art Institute in Houston, and then I can live with you,” she declared.
I smiled and kissed her forehead. “Sure, sweetie,” I replied. “I will make room.”
Published: January 1, 2013