The end of the Road…Preparing for the Empty Nest

For 24 years it is all I’ve known. Parenting. Parenting as a married mother, divorced mother, dating mother, re-married mother…..single, happy mother. You get it, no matter what, I’ve always been their mother. Half of my life has been living responsible for a child then 2, then 3.   2:1, Man to Man then Zone defense….I’ve played them all.   All of a sudden, and I mean it, all of a sudden…it’s about to change and I’m not sure how to feel about that.  The 3rd of 3 is a Senior in High School.

When you’re in “it” you cannot see the forest for the trees.   Raising children is a string of awesome and awful hours and days that quickly turn into months and years.   Yet we wish them away….”it will be easier when.. (insert any future life moment here..) I get back to work, when they go to school, when they start to drive themselves around town, when they go to college…”.  “We will have more money when.. they aren’t in daycare, they aren’t in private school, they aren’t at home.”   Sorry to burst that bubble, but they get more expensive, not less.   Money can be fixed but time cannot.   To that thought, time is always precious, there are no guarantees that we have anyone for the time we want them here with us.  I have witnessed the unbearable heartbreak of friends who have lost children…arguably the most unnatural and cruel event that could ever occur in a parent’s lifetime.

We don’t get time back.   No picture in a frame or super 8 video can bring back that “snuggle time”, bustle of sweaty boys coming in the house from practice or the morning kiss on the cheek as they hurry out the door.    We take all of it for granted when we are in the midst of it and then grasp to hold on to every second of it as it comes to an end.   I know that I am smothering my last child right now, but honestly?  I don’t care.  I’m trying to get every last bit of it that I can before she goes away next year.  Is she moving to the moon?  No.  But the house is going to be empty for the first time in 24 years.

Someone once told me that being a parent was like watching your heart live outside of your body.   I completely agree every day.  It seems like just when they start sleeping through the night, they start driving and you’re up again waiting for them to come safely home.   It is not a job for the faint of heart and truly the weak struggle to survive.  I totally condone the use of “mother’s little helper” and frequent visits to a qualified professional.  Hey, these people did not arrive with owner’s manuals and that internet will make you believe that Social Services will be at your door if you parent your kid as you were parented.

Get all of  the goodbye kisses, relish the smell of sweaty children running through your home and don’t every go to bed without talking to them and telling them how much you love them.  You’re on the clock and Father Time is an ass.

Seems like such ordinary stuff, until you can’t reach them on their phone to do it.

Don’t take one minute for granted with those children.  They aren’t home forever.



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