When your kids are born it feels like you'll have them forever. They're so tiny, so helpless, so reliant on you for every little thing. The days – initially at least - feel endless; as if your child will never reach that next milestone....rolling over, walking, talking.
Those slow moving days should be cherished, as should each day after. All too soon your house is empty once more and you're left wondering where the hell the last 25 years went.
After a few years at junior college, my sweet girl has been accepted to a university. In the fall she will leave home and move 2 hours away. We couldn’t be prouder of her, but admittedly her success is bittersweet. We will soon be empty nesters, the place you always dream about when your then-infant is screaming at 3am.
Now I know what you're thinking…2 hours isn't bad. And I suppose it isn't. She’s not moving to another state or another country. I can drive to see her once a week if I want (she may not want, but that’s another story for another time). Yeah…I guess it isn’t so bad.
But really, it is.
You see, this amazing creature who we have raised has grown to be witty, intelligent, and caring….and she is my best friend. She and I talk about everything…and nothing. We share clothes. We spend time together just hanging out or running errands. And because my husband travels so much for work, our time together is even more precious. She’s who keeps me company on those long weeks when he’s only available by phone.
I realize I'm not the first parent to be feeling this sense of panic, of loss, of sheer glee for what my child has accomplished. This is nothing new. But it's new to me. When our son left home 4 years ago it took a long time for me to get used to not talking to him every day; especially when he temporarily relocated to the Mid-West. He’s married now (and thankfully living in the same city where my daughter will soon attend college), but I still hate telling him goodbye. I’m certain I'll eventually get used to not talking to my daughter every day. Right now, I can't imagine how I'm going to do that.
Everyone who knows me (who knows her too), knows how conflicted I’m feeling. We don’t bring kids into our lives to keep them locked up in their childhood bedrooms forever. We bring kids into this world to set them free. They are really only ‘ours’ (to live with, to teach, to inform) for a VERY short period of time. Our son moved out when he was 21, and our daughter will also be that age when she flies the coop. We have done our job.
So why does my heart hurt?
The quick and fast answer is because change is hard. My entire life has revolved around my kids for the past 25 years. Every job I accepted, every choice I made, every mile I put on my car running them all over the place….every single decision I’ve made for a quarter of a century has been with them at the forefront.
I’m sure I’m being a bit (okay, a lot) overdramatic, but hey…I’m a mom and I’m entitled. That’s not to say my hubby isn’t feeling the exact same way, but you know men….they hide it well. Regardless, in a few months we will once again have the house to ourselves. Strange, but I can’t even remember who he and I were before kids. Is that normal?
As I said, this is all very bittersweet. I’m choosing (for now at least) to embrace the change. My daughter and I are shopping for things for her new apartment. There are lists and more lists and calendars filled with things we have to do before August. Clearly, my days with her by my side are limited. But you know what, I’m blessed. I’m so blessed. She IS my best friend. How many mothers and daughters can say that?
I apologize in advance to all of you, as I’m sure you know how tumultuous the next few months will be. I’m certain there will be more whining and complaining, many various crying fits over something ridiculous. I can only ask that you understand and bear with me. By this time next year I’ll be happy for my empty nest (not so sure about that) and planning the next stage of my (and the hubby’s) life. I’ll be dancing naked around the house (not), sleeping late (not…not), and generally reliving my 20’s all over again (uh…no).
Chances are, I’ll be planning my next 2 hour drive to see my kids.