Globe Syndicate

for release October 12, 2001

Another Way

by Melodie Davis

One Child Left at Home

My second child started college back in August. The oldest is a junior in college and the youngest is a sophomore in high school. With two kids away from home, the question I'm being asked most often these days is, "How does it feel to only have one child at home?" This is what I wrote in response:

How It Feels To Only Have One Child Left At Home

The towels in the bathroom last all week.

The bathroom counter is clear of contact lens clutter.

You don't have to fight five brands of shampoo, conditioner, and three shavers in the shower.

You can get in the shower without waiting in line.

Your septic system gets a rest.

The clothes hamper doesn't fill up in one day.

You're not folding clothes constantly.

You stop feeling so much like a maid.

A gallon of milk lasts more than 2 days.

The orange juice hangs around and bags of chips get stale.

You buy a 5-biscuit can of biscuits instead of a 10-biscuit can to make your Sunday  morning sweet rolls, and even that is too much.

You pull a few ears of corn for supper instead of a half bushel.

You fix a package of ham for supper and you get to eat more than half a piece because you don't have to worry about running out.

The dishwasher is not full at the end of the day.

Your grocery bill goes down about $25.

The bananas rot before you can use them.

The apples spoil.

You don't have to leave a light on when you go to bed at 11:00.

The car has gas in it.

You have a car.

The radio stays on your middle-of-the-road talk station.

The radio doesn't come on playing at 500 decibels.

You have a spare bedroom for the first time in about 17 years.

That bedroom does not have clothes all over the floor.

The dog is so lonely you briefly consider doggy day care.

You can get on the phone.

The phone rings and it might actually be for you.

You can get on the computer.

You get on the computer and your day is made when you have an e-mail message from each one, or they send an instant message saying, "Will you accept a message from....?"

Take note of these differences early on because they soon become routine to you, old hat.

I am so glad we still have one more child at home. She makes me feel younger, and at my age, you need all the help you can get. People wonder how she feels -- but that's for her to write.

If you only have one or two children, the whole parenting thing is over even faster. Of course, to be realistic, I know it can't go on forever. Each family should decide the size that is right for them, just like each couple should decide whether or not they really want to have children. Those of us who have children and understand the richness they've added to our lives should respect the inclinations of those who don't think they're cut out to be parents. The world has enough unwanted children and kids with poor or non-existent parenting.

And yes, I know the kids who've left home will probably be back, not just for vacations and breaks, but moving back home for a season in their lives. There seems to be a revolving door in many homes, which is okay up to a point. Different ground rules need to be established for relating to your adult children as adults-complete with the responsibilities and respect, on both ends, that that implies. Laying those ground rules up front seems to be a key for making it work. That can be a trying and difficult time, too, but there are families who make it work.

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Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from a number of organizations including the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three growing daughters.

NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 610 words; end material = 105 words

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©2001 by Globe Syndicate, all rights reserved.

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