In 25 days my youngest will be done with high school and off to start the next chapter of his life a short week later. I’ve had someone to care for- someone I share my home, my hugs, my wisdom, and my patience with for the last 23 years. Two decades…half my life later…I will be an empty nester. I’ll be truly alone for the first time in my adult life. I keep searching for what to do with it all.
I’m not sure I’ve met a parent that hasn’t looked ahead at a time when they won’t hear their name 567 times in one day or hide chocolate in a Triscuit box so they could eat the entire thing themselves (that’s what my friend said she did). I’ll dare to say I’m probably not the only one that has thought about setting the clock ahead an hour and giving a small dose of Benadryl for a sneeze I know I heard….three days prior but you have to stay on top of those things. I did say I only thought about doing that, right?
We’re on the go, running on fumes, waiting for a quiet Sunday to recharge…and while that’s a lovely notion it’s usually replaced by laundry, a school project, or our extended family. But, really, it’s a good and exhausting kind of busy. It’s all the laughs in the car on the way to school that turn into a life time of inside jokes and it’s gathering in the kitchen while dinners being made to hear about the best and the worst days. It’s even the most difficult days that shaped who they are and who I am. It’s the knowing that they have always trusted me with their life and what an honor it is to be who they turn to when they don’t know which way to go. It’s all that and so much more that makes the thought of an empty nest one of the most confusing things.
I make light of what I’m going to do with all this new found “freedom”. Freedom to continue to get up and go to work, grocery shop, clean the house….basically do all the things I do now without one of my loves of my life being physically present. I think I’ve warned my office that I will probably feed them more and promised to try, try and not mother any of them. Shit I might do the opposite and have that mid life crisis everyone’s been waiting for or maybe I’ll become a mongoose….hmmmm those two things stereotypically go together so it only counts as one bad decision-yes! I’m kidding…well kidding’ish.
The way this is all unfolding before my eyes seems to have the emotional root cause as most things in my life-it’s all about time. For those of you that followed me through grief you know how I feel about time. I have a roller coaster, love/hate relationship with time. It’s a bastard that has robbed me of time with people I thought I deserved more with, it’s left me breathless in moments of pure joy, and it’s made me a neurotic, anxious mess trying to anticipate its next moves. I think that’s why I love hour glasses so much-I can watch time go by and I know exactly what’s happening…no surprise endings.
I can’t decide exactly what to think of time today. I have beautiful memories with my kids and for today and hopefully many more I have the gift of watching their lives become exactly what they were meant to be. Perhaps all of this angst about the last baby bird leaving is to remind me that time is about choices. It’s about who we choose to surround ourselves with, about the life we create and share. It’s the love in our hearts and the hope in our minds. I’ll never finish loving my kids so even though I can’t wrap my arms around them everyday the love I have for them will always be there.
I have a feeling, that in selflessly letting time yank life as I know it out from under my feet, I’ll find the guts and grace to trust the timing of my life while buckling up for what will surely be a wild ride….just like it’s always been.