day 278 – Empty Nest

Research shows it takes about 18 months to 2 years to adjust to the loss of children no longer living at home. – Kathy Coffman

I won’t be taking them to pre-school, soccer practice or music any more.  In fact, no more elementary, middle or high school back – to – school nights or emergency forms to fill out.  What is a mom to do?

As the moment quickly approaches when your first born child, your only or your last one goes off to college or their own apartment, do you rejoice or do you weep?  Isn’t it a little of both?  Isn’t it a lot of both?  Do you even know how you feel?  This is unchartered territory.  This is life.  How did this come to be so soon?

I have been so stoic all summer, so giddy about getting the house to myself, knowing I will be free of responsibility for the first time since I was about twelve.

And then, your family comes by to say goodbye.  You tell strangers or new acquaintances at a summer bash how this is the last one.  You send in the tuition payment.  You shop at Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond for linens and incidentals. You run into moms you have known, worked, driven and volunteered with since kindergarten.  That’s when it hits me.  In all those moments, in all those circumstances, I am reminded of the present and the past and the future smack dab in the middle of my forehead like a snapping rubber band between my eyes.

It’s like Tevye and his daughters in Fiddler on the Roof – on the one hand, I am proud of my brood – on the other hand, I am scared.  It’s a false sense of security to think because they are under our physical care they are protected.  It’s a warped control issue and an illusion that somehow I could ever play God.

Being together, being here, makes it all better. Whatever the better needs to be or is.  Doesn’t’ it?

Every minute, every fun event or daily routine act is being embedded like a photograph, captured in my memory.  I know they come back, but THE day they move out is still a momentous occasion and it IS happening!

Will I be able to hug, to catch the nuance in their voice or know if they are safe when I am not there? I probably will not and certainly it is less possible with physical distance and miles apart.

So, I have come to the conclusion, I get to grow up, let go and start a new chapter with the love of my life.  We are still their mommy and daddy.  We will still guide, support, praise and encourage them into adulthood and as long as we live.  We will still worry, miss and ache, too.

We had no idea what we signed up for when we were gifted these little human beings.  And, it never stops.

May this new world, where we have not trudged before, be filled with as much love, newness and growth as our children will experience for themselves, on their own.


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