It it what it is: Gone but not forgotten

It it what it is: Gone but not forgotten

Let’s just say that the kids’ presence is lingering.

  • By WILL MORROW For the Peninsula Clarion
  • Saturday, September 14, 2019 11:10pm
  • Life

People keep asking me what it’s been like with my kids out of the house. To be honest, so far, I haven’t really noticed they’ve been gone.

For those who may not know, we recently sent our son, Billy, off to his freshman year of college, and our daughter, Grace, to Austria for a year-long youth exchange.

So, in a very short time, we’ve gone from two kids at home to an empty nest.

But as I said, it doesn’t really feel that way yet. Let’s just say that the kids’ presence is lingering.

For example, two weekends ago, I spent a couple of hours scrubbing down the bathroom that the kids have been “cleaning” themselves for the past year. Apparently, the definition of clean is relative. There were six shampoo, conditioner or body wash bottles in the shower — but only one with anything in it. I guess that’s a way to keep plastic out of the landfill.

I also felt bad about displacing the spiders from behind the toilet. It looked like they had been there for a while. But as long as we’re cleaning up after them, it certainly doesn’t feel like the kids are gone.

One thing we have noticed is that we seem to have way more bowls, mugs and spoons than we thought we did. I’m not sure where they all came from, but all of the sudden, we barely have enough room in the cupboards for them.

Coincidentally, we haven’t bought a box of cereal since July. And we’ve determined that a single-serve milk bottle will last us a week. In fact, half of our family is gone, but we’re spending less than a third of what we used to spend on groceries. Of course, tuition payments and costs for Grace’s travels make up for the difference.

Speaking of dishes, in the month that the kids have been gone, we’ve run the dishwasher twice — and one of those times, it was because it was starting to smell just a little. As it turns out, if you have to clean the dishes enough so there’s no food left on them because they’re going to sit in the dishwasher for a week, you might as well just wash them all the way and squeeze them back in the cabinet.

Maybe that will be the trick to getting all the bowls to fit — we just need to think of the dishwasher as extra storage space.

It is different without the kids at home. Slowly but surely, we’ve been cleaning up the piles of junk they left on their way out the door. Last weekend, we tackled my son’s room; we may still be tackling it next weekend, too.

We’re also getting the hang of cooking for two. In our case, I think two will refer to two meals, rather than two people — so far, most of what we have prepared has been more than enough for at least one meal of leftovers.

I do still find myself waiting up for the kids to get home — or at least waiting for the text that they’re on their way home 15 minutes past curfew. And I have to admit, I got a little bit misty on my daughter’s last night home as I was checking the “find my iPhone” app one last time to see where she was texting from.

The kids seem to be doing well. Grace is trying to keep everyone posted with occasional blog and Instagram posts (forcing my wife and me to join Instagram). If we pester Billy with enough texts, he’ll eventually respond that everything is “fine,” which is as much as we ever get out of him when he’s home anyway.

At some point, kids’ rooms will be cleaned, the totes full of their elementary school artwork will be sorted, and we’ll have broken a few dishes trying to cram them into the cupboard, addressing the need for extra storage.

Maybe then, it will really feel like the kids are gone.

Then again, Billy will be home on school breaks, and Grace will be back from her exchange next summer.

Maybe I should start stocking up on bowls now.

Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Email him at

• By WILL MORROW, For the Peninsula Clarion

More in Life

Powerful truth of resurrection reverberates even today

Don’t let the resurrection of Jesus become old news

Nell and Homer Crosby were early homesteaders in Happy Valley. Although they had left the area by the early 1950s, they sold two acres on their southern line to Rex Hanks. (Photo courtesy of Katie Matthews)
A Kind and Sensitive Man: The Rex Hanks Story — Part 1

The main action of this story takes place in Happy Valley, located between Anchor Point and Ninilchik on the southern Kenai Peninsula

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Chloe Jacko, Ada Bon and Emerson Kapp rehearse “Clue” at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska, on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Whodunit? ‘Clue’ to keep audiences guessing

Soldotna High School drama department puts on show with multiple endings and divergent casts

Leora McCaughey, Maggie Grenier and Oshie Broussard rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Singing, dancing and a lot of ABBA

Nikiski Theater puts on jukebox musical ‘Mamma Mia!’

This berry cream cheese babka can be made with any berries you have in your freezer. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
A tasty project to fill the quiet hours

This berry cream cheese babka can be made with any berries you have in your freezer

Minister’s Message: How to grow old and not waste your life

At its core, the Bible speaks a great deal about the time allotted for one’s life

Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura and Stephen McKinley Henderson appear in “Civil War.” (Promotional photo courtesy A24)
Review: An unexpected battle for empathy in ‘Civil War’

Garland’s new film comments on political and personal divisions through a unique lens of conflict on American soil

What are almost certainly members of the Grönroos family pose in front of their Anchor Point home in this undated photograph courtesy of William Wade Carroll. The cabin was built in about 1903-04 just north of the mouth of the Anchor River.
Fresh Start: The Grönroos Family Story— Part 2

The five-member Grönroos family immigrated from Finland to Alaska in 1903 and 1904

Aurora Bukac is Alice in a rehearsal of Seward High School Theatre Collective’s production of “Alice in Wonderland” at Seward High School in Seward, Alaska, on Thursday, April 11, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward in ‘Wonderland’

Seward High School Theatre Collective celebrates resurgence of theater on Eastern Kenai Peninsula

These poppy seed muffins are enhanced with the flavor of almonds. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
The smell of almonds and early mornings

These almond poppy seed muffins are quick and easy to make and great for early mornings

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes they come back

This following historical incident resurfaced during dinner last week when we were matching, “Hey, do you remember when…?” gotchas

The Canadian steamship Princess Victoria collided with an American vessel, the S.S. Admiral Sampson, which sank quickly in Puget Sound in August 1914. (Otto T. Frasch photo, copyright by David C. Chapman, “O.T. Frasch, Seattle” webpage)
Fresh Start: The Grönroos Family Story — Part 1

The Grönroos family settled just north of the mouth of the Anchor River