My nest is half full. My son, who is 20 now, has moved out for his second year of college, while my daughter, who is 17, is finishing her last year of high school.
Parenting is such an ambivalent experience. When they were little, they were so innocent and joyful, but so exhausting. As they got older, the physical challenges lessened while the emotional challenges increased. Now, I vacillate between feeling lonely and peaceful.
With my husband travelling for weeks at a time now, it is often just me and my daughter at home. She is very easy to live with; quick with a hug and quick to pitch in. There are days when we both really miss her brother and father, and
days when we revel in the orderliness of our home in the
absence of the messier members of the household.
My daughter is considering her options for next year;
university or a victory lap. As a good mom, I nudge her out of the nest; tell her she is ready for university or maybe some work and travel. Inside, of course, I want her to stay home forever. I feel lonely just thinking about her leaving.
But there are other days when I remember all of the dreams that I put on hold for my kids. I think of the jobs that I turned down because I would not move my children. I think of the friendships that have drifted because of distance and
time constraints. I think of the holidays that were too expensive for a family of four. I think of the pleasure of taking care of no one but my self.
It has been so long since I put my needs and wants first
that I have trouble knowing what they are. As a mother, I feel so enmeshed with my children that it is difficult to separate my wants from theirs. As I watch them go out into the world, to jobs and school and friends, I know I have done my job well. But there is an ache as I realize that their lives no longer revolve around my mine. As we disentangle, I feel how much I have sacrificed for them and wonder if it is too late for the dreams I put on hold. I want to believe that there is life on the other side of the hill. But right now, all I can really see is what lies leaving behind.
You’ve so poignantly summed up how so many mothers, and perhaps some fathers, too, feel about their children making the transition from child to adult. Though I believe adolescents don’t become adults until around 25, they sure take a big step when they move out of the family home. So much for them to learn, while we reminisce about how our own lives unfolded, who we were then and who we are now.
And yes, there is so much life ahead for you! This is a whirlwind year for your daughter and for you, too, but it’s a good time to start making that list of postponed dreams, which I hope will include more writing. You are a writer, a communicator of what’s important in life, how we humans grow, and how to look deeper.
Dear Pam…..thank you…for your encouragement and support! Kp
I stumbled upon this post because my sons left home last year and at first it was hard for me to deal with. I realized then that this was a positive step, a period of maturing and growing. They know how much parents do for them now because they are now doing it for themselves. Space was good, and in the long term it created better relationships with them. It was good for me as well, it was a time to think about what I wanted/ needed and I could create my own new relationships. Its time to make yourself happy.
Thanks for sharing…these are encouraging words!