The house is quiet, just me and the dog. I climb the stairs and enter the room through the French doors beside the landing. I light my daughter’s favorite candle and sit in the black-checkered IKEA chair under the window. The gray walls are soothing, tranquil. The crisp white trim and bed spread, refreshing. The antique furniture, a reminder of years past.
A little less than a year ago, my baby girl left the nest. She graduated from college, and as many college graduates do, she opted to stay in her new “hometown.” She did come home for a couple of weeks . . . to pack up the things she wanted in her new place; which is really an old place, a 100-year old house! While she was home, she helped me in a very profound way, which I don’t think she even realizes.
Her bedroom and the guest bedroom are side by side at one end of the upstairs hallway. The guest bedroom is long and narrow with 3 windows. It has always been a challenge for furniture placement and was basically in the same configuration for about twelve years. I was really wanting to change it up but couldn’t figure out how when the girl child came up with a brilliant idea! “Mom, why don’t we flip the rooms”? Of course! What a great idea!
The two of us proceeded to transform her childhood bedroom into one more sophisticated and appropriate for the young professional she is. We decided the palette would be gray and white with some coral accents. We painted over the turquoise walls that were base for her adolescent design. (The blue walls covered with white, puffy clouds had been painted over a few years earlier.) We pulled the Bohemian beads off the facing of the built in shelves. A hundred photographs were taken down and put away. Some of her things were boxed up for a new space in Birmingham, and some were left in the closet for later. The white and turquoise furniture of childhood was replaced with antique furniture: my in-law’s bedroom set from the 1940’s, my grandmother’s old cedar chest, my parents’ glass-front barrister cabinet. She came back in and added her touch, things that will always keep this her room, like the Penguin books sitting on a silver platter on the cedar chest, her small Casablanca poster propped up on the shelf, a ballerina figurine from my childhood, the little red double-decker bus from London and some dried hydrangeas we collected in North Carolina. I added a picture of her and her love in a “vintage” frame. It makes me smile. It is still her room even though she doesn’t occupy it anymore.
A little less than a year ago my daughter helped me re-decorate her bedroom in the only home she remembers. That is the apparent, the obvious. She may not realize it, but what she really did is gently help me to let go. I love her for that.