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Bachelorette days are ending

My solitary days are almost over. By Sunday evening, three-fifths of the Reeves family will be claiming Andalusia as their permanent residence. My two youngest boys, 10 and 3, will be joining me in my little yellow house while the oldest helps his dad get the Tennessee house packed up and ready for sale.

It will be a change for me, for many reasons. My lovely little cottage, which is the perfect size for one adult and one reclusive brown tabby, will now have to accommodate one adult, one reclusive brown tabby, one 10-year old who is already five-feet-four, and almost-four-year-old, and the tonnage of toys and books that accumulate about them like dust around the Charles Shulz character Pigpen.

Instead of sleeping late and staying up late,

I'm going to have go the "Healthy, wealthy and wise" Poor Richard route – early to bed and early to rise.

Instead of enjoying CNN, Cheers reruns, Law and Order and

– after my first brush with a hurricane – the Weather Channel, my television will be permanently fixed on the Cartoon Network.

Instead of heading out to the Huddle House after putting the paper to bed and enjoying a cup of coffee and a good book, I will now get to dash to the schools, pick the guys up, and fix them dinner.

Good grief – I'm going to have to cook again!

I've already had to replace my tiny dorm fridge with a real refrigerator – now packed with one Diet Coke, a Bag-O-Salad, ranch dressing and jar of brown mustard. My cabinets aren't much better, claiming a can of crab meat and some soft, stale Oreos from the boys' last visit. The ancient Goodwill sleeper sofa has been replaced with a nifty new futon couch which folds out (after an aerobic exercise and some amazing gymnastics and defying a few laws of physics) into a full bed. My wonderful walk-in closet is now crammed with storage bins for their clothes. My paperwork drawer, which held only monthly statement and a book of stamps, is now filled with notebook paper, pencils, and other school effluvia.

Oh, I can't wait!

I've lived a fairly old fashioned life. My first years, I lived with my parents, then in a dorm, then with my mother again. After that, with my husband. These past three months have been my only taste of bachelorhood and while it was very nice in a way, I have had enough to realize how much I appreciate not being single and unencumbered with children. If I don't get my quiet visits to Huddle House, that's OK. Now, when I come home and want to talk to someone, I cant get something besides "Miaow" for an answer. Now I can find out how my sons' days went without selling my soul to a long distance provider. I can hug and cuddle a warm body that isn't furry. Sticky, maybe, but not furry.

The old saying goes "you don't appreciate something until it isn't there anymore." So true. While I've never been a Donna Reed sort of aproned, stay-at-home mom, I didn't realize how much I loved being a mom until I had to do it long distance. I missed the talking, the hugging, the nurturing. I – the Great Plant Killer -even went out at bought plant after plant, just to have something to tend to when I came home at night. The plants are probably doomed now, unless they hang on until my husband moves down.

It is going to be crowded and hectic and fun and fulfilling.

I can't wait for my boys to meet Andalusia. They've already discovered the wonderful Dream Park, so like the Imagination Station they helped build in Tullahoma. They had a great time at the rodeo last weekend and are looking forward to getting into horses themselves. They want to go to the movies, listen to the musicians on the Square, and go for long walks around our quiet neighborhood.

Mostly, they want to be with Mom, and Mom couldn't be more thrilled.

My absence from their daily lives has probably affected my husband the most, that saint. It has been a tiny bit satisfying, however, to now that he, finally, has some idea of what I was doing besides working full time. He's gotten to the doctor visits, the late night Wal-Mart runs, the homework nagging, the "You aren't wearing that to school" lectures, and the endless round of Band-Aid applications.

Of course, the worm has turned. Now it's my turn to discover the hazards of single parenthood. I get the feeling that, by the time Terry and Scott finally join us here, that I will be as sick of being a "single parent" as I am now of being a "bachelorette."