Happy second GET OUT birthday!

Once upon a time, a long long (longlonglongLONG) time ago, I started a blog shortly after my firstborn turned six. At the time she had buckteeth and dark blonde hair and little blue glasses, and she often glared at me and said I DON’T LIKE YOU when I displeased her. This week that same sassypants turned TWENTY, only now her teeth look great and her hair is currently… um… strawberry blond with pink tips, I think… and she has a little opal nose stud instead of glasses (not to help her see… oh, you know what I mean) and nearly all of her texts to me start out I LOVE YOU but also I get I HATE IT WHEN YOU’RE RIGHT sometimes, and I screen-cap it every time because it delights me.

We thought eighteen was a big deal, but she seems to be taking twenty much harder. “Now I REALLY have to be an adult,” she kept saying, like the Adulthood Police might pull up on her at the park and be all, “Ma’am, excuse me, but aren’t you a little too old to be riding on that playground equipment? Can I see some ID, please, and can you tell me when you last filed your own taxes?” I always found it hilarious when my father would say things about how he knows I’m an adult but he always thinks of me as a kid, but now I get it. Twenty is still a toddler. Twenty is playing grownup and hoping no one notices.

Just as the last birthday before you leave for college is the GET OUT birthday, the birthday before you move into your first apartment is a similar—and yet unique—extravaganza.

[Sidebar: You thought this was gonna be a sappy post, I bet. INCORRECT. I spent the wee hours before her actual birthday texting back and forth with her about the day she was born, and while she’s fantabulous and all, I gave her all my mush and now you get to hear about STUFF, instead.]

When the kids were getting ready for college, that GET OUT birthday included twinXL bedding and stick vacs and other dorm trappings. There’s a surprising amount of stuff they seem to need—especially when you consider that I think the only thing we bought before I went off to college was a new set of sheets? maybe?—and it’s the start of a new adventure and all. I have greatly enjoyed it, both times, and I hope the kids did, too.

Although the apartment move-in won’t happen until this summer, I think I already mentioned that pretty much the moment negotiations concluded and the lease was signed, Chickadee had a list of things she was certain she needed. Now, let me just say up front that I am a COMPLETE MORON for not insisting she move somewhere furnished. I mean, I guess I wasn’t thinking. Maybe I was high off the fumes from painting Monkey’s new-to-him dresser so she could have the old one. Or I figured we could do as college students have done since forever and buy cheap stuff from graduating students and call it a day. Anyway, as the list grew longer, we had to have several talks about how this was going to go down.

1) I offered to buy her new bedding. I also offered to procure a (secondhand) mattress, and tried to remind her that a mattress is really all a relatively broke college student needs. She said okay and promptly found a secondhand IKEA bed she wanted and suckered Otto into picking it up for her and stashing the pieces in the attic. Meanwhile, we selected her new bedding and I told her it would be a birthday present and bought it for her.

2) Once the duvet, duvet cover/shams, and sheets were procured, I realized she also needed a new mattress topper and cover. And a couple of pillows. And probably some more towels. Hi, I’m a sucker with a closet full of my spoiled child’s new linens.

3) Mattresses came and went on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace and because we are HERE and she is THERE it was a constant stream of HEY LOOK AT THIS ONE and DO YOU THINK THIS WOULD FIT IN MY CAR texts depending on where it was located. Unfortunately, after last year’s super-fun mono adventure Chickie’s health improved just a little and then took a sharp nosedive, and she has since been diagnosed with fibromyalgia (which may or may not be correct and DO NOT GET ME STARTED on how long she has been waiting to see a specialist because RAAAAAGE) which means she actually needs a pretty specific/good mattress or she’s gonna be (even more) miserable. I started considering buying her a new mattress but was still resisting because $$$ and also…

4) … quick on the heels of the gazillion mattress texts were similar messages about desks and bookshelves and nightstands and also HEY MOM, I really think I need a lamp; yes I know I have a lamp but I mean a DIFFERENT lamp; HEY I NEED BINS, etc. You get the drift, yes? And somehow because we have the Big Vehicle here, I spent the month leading up to her actual birthday running all over town to meet with strangers who are ready to part with their most prized particle board creations. This was “cheaper” than buying new, because my time is worth nothing, I guess. (HAHA! LITTLE HUMOR! IGNORE THE EYELID TWITCH!)

5) For every piece of furniture actually procured there were at least three episodes of either being told something was available and then having it become unavailable or an otherwise flaky seller. One dude put up a couple of grainy (like, astoundingly bad, honestly) pictures of a desk and then in corresponding back and forth said it was in storage and he was selling it for a friend and he didn’t want to “waste a trip” to the storage unit, so he wanted me to promise I would buy it if I came out to look at it. Um. Oooookay, sir, enjoy your desk! Thanks anyway! Another particularly charming seller (about to graduate from college with a real degree and everything) gave me his address wrong. No kidding. When I texted him from the middle of a decidedly non-residential area to say I was pretty sure his house was not there, he realized his mistake. Plus, his bookcase had been assembled backwards, with all the raw edges showing. BLESS HIS HEART.

6) ALSO for every piece of furniture procured there was a negotiation about Who Is Paying For This Missy, Huh? Because my love has limits. As does my bank account. And also remember how moving into an apartment is about being a more independent adult? Independent adults buy their own particle board!! Why, back in my day I had to buy AND ASSEMBLE my own!

7) Meanwhile, I acquired the closetful-o-linens pretty early on, and then in discussing kitchen needs (her with her roommate, me with her) I found myself saying OH I HAVE PLENTY OF STUFF FOR YOU and that was true. Sort of. I mean, we got new dishes at Christmas and saved the old ones, and then I found a stupid good deal on new cookware so I bought that for ME and she can have my old stuff, but… ummmm… I found myself adding to the stash again and again, because OH SHE NEEDS ONE OF THESE and HEY DO YOU HAVE A CAN OPENER and such. Also, as a dear friend loves to tell me, bargains are my love language and also I maybe have a problem (but listen, you can never have too many spatulas).

All of this is to say: Our garage is filled with furniture and there is currently a monstrous mattress living in my office, and the “couple of additional happy birthday here’s stuff for your apartment” items are taking up the entire dining room table. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! PLEASE TAKE ALL THIS CRAP AND GET OUT! (And Otto just told me last night there’s no way we can get all of this moved in one trip, so that’s awesome, too!)

Thank goodness Monkey is staying in the dorm. Also, just hypothetically, would it be wrong to either fake my own death or change the locks when Chickadee graduates and tries to bring all of this crap home again before grad school…?


  1. atlantagirl30084

    LOL, I lived in the dorms all 4 years of college and then went straight to grad school after college, so my mom had to drive down with me to ATL 11 years ago and help pick up furniture for me in, like, 3 days. We bought a kitchen table set (sold before I got married 5 years later), a little kitchen cart that I used a ton in the kitchen-with-one-kitchen drawer in my first apartment but now it’s a handy cocktail cart that we also use to hold the various dog sundries. The bed got given to my sister 3 years later. I still use the desk we bought, though.

  2. jwgmom

    I have proposing for years that bridal showers consist of all the guests who have been married for twenty years or more handing down their old stuff so they can get new. Let the young folks work hard and buy their own new stuff if that’s what they want. Perhaps this should apply to moving out also. By the way, not to mind anything but how has the new school worked out for Monkey?

    • Mir

      He’s loving it! (And yes, no jinxing, but the semester is almost over and so far, so good.)

      • Genevieve


  3. jwgmom

    I hate autocorrect! I wrote jinx, it wrote mind. Not even close.

  4. ~annie

    Seems every year is a GET OUT birthday for my one Critter. So far: go to college, move to townhouse with friends, move to a big house with roommates, move to a smaller house with boyfriend and roommates, get married, move to tiny townhouse, and – finally! – buy first house.
    All the while, and STILL, my own 900 sq ft house is the holding tank for ALL THE THINGS that must be kept because one day she might need them, but just now doesn’t have the room for them.

  5. AlisonC

    I would wish Chickie Happy Birthday if I wasn’t so grumpy at how old she is making me feel!

  6. KarenP

    Have you heard of buynothing? People in your area belong and either ask or gift stuff for free.

  7. that person

    Always a delight to read a new post from you.

    All I got when I was moving out for college were a few used up, beat up dishes, some very basic,also used up linens and that was it. I feel like an unloved stepchild, compared to Chickie. But also glad for her, that she has all this awesome support. May we all have it better in life. :)

    There’s an herbal supplement that I’ve been using for general fatigue – obviously, take it with a grain of salt and consult your doctor, but it’s been so helpful to me that I’d be remiss to share. Ashwagandha – it’s an adaptogen which helps with adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism, as well as levels of cortisol (a stress-regulating hormone). Basically, it helps deal with the body’s depleted ability to renew itself after prolonged periods of heavy stress. Not sure how these comments work with links, so just look it up on examine dot com, for scientific studies on its effects.

  8. Jeanie

    Happy birthday, Chickie! I hope you enjoy all your new “stuff” for apartment living.

    I know how you feel, Mir, about the guy giving you wrong directions. When I went to get a puppy out of town, the gal told me her house was on the right side of the street (in the country). She told me this twice! Yep, it was on the left side.

  9. Mary K. in Rockport

    Been there (still am there!) so you have my intense sympathy! For daughter #2, she wanted an apartment for senior year to which we said no for many good reasons. Her statement of rebellion? Not take her finals and drop out; so that worked out GREAT for her! Daughter #1 followed the more sensible course – finish the BA, move home, commute to grad school, get a great job, move to the city, get an apartment’s worth of stuff, THEN move back home – with all the stuff – which now resides piled to the ceiling in my deceased mother’s bedroom! I did manage to abandon many icky pieces of furniture on the sidewalk in the city which were quickly claimed by foraging college students! So that was good.

  10. Sara

    I have done the GET OUT birthday with my eldest child. She lived in the dorm for a year then moved to an unfurnished apartment where she has lived for the last year and a half. So I feel your particular pain of having and storing all the things. This year, in December–really, super never busy in December, right?–I got the extra special joy of moving many of her things back home since she is spending this semester abroad. Then we get to move her things BACK in May when she gets home and spends the summer on campus working to replenish that empty, empty bank account, only to move her YET AGAIN in August to new digs for her senior year. Last night chatting via WhatsApp, she informed me that she is looking for jobs in the country she is currently studying in to follow graduation. This is not brand new information for a child whose major is Int’l Studies/Human Rights/Spanish, but still *HEADDESK*.
    All this is to say Happy Birthday to your favorite girl child! May she continue to grow strong and lovely and smart and funny and may she acquire a place to store her own stuff! ;)

  11. Vickie

    Yep, we do furnished apartments for under grad and grad. Two kids have been out of state. But even the instate one was a couple hours from home. And you are exactly right, still is linens and kitchen stuff and lamps and vacuum, etc. I start giving college stuff as gifts their last two years of high school. Slide it in when I can.

  12. Chuck

    I can see the temptation of an apartment, but that private dorm room (with private bathroom) looked pretty sweet. Maybe Monkey can take it over next year?

    • Mir

      Yep, he’ll have it next year!

  13. Kim

    All through my kids’ senior years, everything is called the “get out” holiday. The Get Out Christmas, get out birthday, etc. It’s your birthday. Here’s a set of cereal bowls. Thankfully, this actually makes them happy!

  14. 12tequilas

    I definitely imagine myself one day in the future buying spatulas for mine. Also tongs. Can’t have too many of those either.

  15. Pats

    I remember senior year of high school, proudly using my tax refund from my job at McDonald’s to order sheets and 6 towels in 6 different colors, all on sale. I still have one of the towels. That was 38 years ago!

    I have been stockpiling unneeded dishes and kitchen stuff for mine too. When I married husband #2 and he moved in with a hoard of kitchenware, we set a lot of it aside. Hopefully my 21-year-old will move out eventually and need it.

  16. Karen Scott

    Wow. Happy Birthday Chickie!! I am really happy to read she is doing so well. Not to mention how nice her apartment will look. ;) I was trying to figure out the other day how long I have been reading your blog (yes my life is still just as exciting as ever), and it seems it’s been a long time. Ok, I looked, I’ve been reading since 2005. And I think even then you said I needed a hobby! It’s been fun to follow your adventures, thanks for the memories, Mir!

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