I have a charming neighbor, who has six – yes SIX – children, between the ages of 2 and 16. She’s a little bit harried. Who am I kidding, she’s meeting-herself-coming-and-going busy. Last night, we visited while she cleared dinner plates, kissed boo boos, checked in with teens, and wrangled toddlers toward baths.
She and I have a shared love of making art, so when she mentioned that she’s been making some new craft objects, of course, I had to see them. Wow! She’d made several gorgeous filet crochet table runners, just drop dead beautiful fine handwork. Ruefully, she placed them back into storage, telling me she doesn’t know what to do with them; she’d love to use them, but with six kids . . .
That fleeting look in her eye, that moment of dreaming of an orderly house, stain-free upholstery, and quiet relaxation at the end of the day – snapped back to reality by a crash and a wail – made me want to give her hope. Hope. Hope chest!
“A hope chest is what you need!” I cried, “An Empty Nest Hope Chest!” She paused, then smiled broadly, going with me into the idea. When we were young, we had hope chests for our first place, when we left our parents’ house. We should have similar vessels for the things we’ll use when our children leave us for homes of their own.
Ah, the possibilities: the delicately beautiful threadwork of her crochet pieces to replace Big Bird placemats; wine glasses made of crystal instead of plastic juice glasses; books with leather bindings and endless chapters, not pop-up activity booklets.
I could see the idea had done the trick. She was still smiling faintly, when I left, dreaming of the time when she would be sitting in her orderly, quiet, perfectly lovely house . . .
Wishing her kids would visit more often.