This week my youngest child left the house and moved away. There’s an interesting kind of loss that comes with that, with being an Empty Nester. My 25-year career as a single parent has drawn to a close. I’ve retired, in a way. My house is very quiet. Nobody, or their friends, is running in and out all hours. I’m not tripping over anyone’s abandoned shoes. The shelves in the fridge are empty and all of the dirty dishes in the sink are mine.
I cry sometimes. At dinnertime. When I hear a love song on the radio. When I pass her empty bed. It’s kind of like losing an intimate partner, a lover, someone who knows you well and you know them. But there was no break up, no damaged ending. It’s just another transition. My children were working on independence from the moment of conception: first to become independent of my womb, then my breasts. Then my lap. One day they let go of my hand, they go to school, stay overnight at other mother’s houses. It all leads up to this moment. There is no surprise when it comes. There is relief and joy. I’ve handed my daughter her own life, and she has stepped into it.
I’m crying, but I’m not really sad. It’s not like she’s going to prison, or into the military, or into hospice. By her own perseverance, she received a scholarship to follow her passion. I’m happy for her. Her future is bright and shiny and new. My future is…..different. I haven’t figured it out yet. I’ve been so busy helping her along.
Now I will be turning my transformative focus fully onto myself. Volumes of free space spreads out before me. I want to be intentional, and not just fill that up with busy-ness. I want to breathe, and settle, and cry. I want to be in this moment, present to it, so that I will recognize when it is finished and I have arrived in the next chapter.
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