I thought I was over this. I thought I had cried my tears and said my goodbyes and successfully launched not one, but two of my children off to college, and one into the working world of independence. I had one to go, and he was leaving this fall.
I had adjusted to my youngest leaving home
I felt every moment this senior school year, I cried a few more tears as my baby began to look ready to leave the nest, and I readied myself for what life would look like in September. We had the soccer banquet, the homecoming dance, and many other milestones. My husband grew accustomed to hearing, “Well, it’s just you and me tonight for dinner. This is what it will be like this fall,” and many other predictions of what our life would soon look like.
I had lunch with a few friends throughout the year who also had seniors and would be without kids at home soon, and we talked about the transition, and who we would be if not “full time moms?” I wrestled with the idea, prayed, talked to my sister, my mom, more friends, and slowly made some peace with my new chapter coming along more quickly than I would have liked.
I started saying positive things like, “it’s going to great getting back to myself” or “we’ll have time to do that next year!” instead of “I can’t believe this is happening so soon,” or “I’m not ready for him to go!”
And now there is a new normal that no one saw coming
All this progress was well and good until our new normal, one that none of us saw coming or could have predicted, was upon us. Now, I sit here with all three of my adult children (18, high school senior; 22, junior in college after a gap year to play hockey after high school; and 25, just “rescued” from London where she was studying for a master’s degree) living with my husband and me again. Though the details of how our children came to be at home may differ, many empty nesters are experiencing this same scenario, again.
I am cooking dinner for five people each night. I am taking requests for the grocery list. I am doing lots more laundry and folding it into five piles again. I am checking in with everyone each day. Who has what going on? Any exams today? Who wants to take a bike ride or walk with Mom? Am I really asking my grown children who wants to take a bike ride with Mom?
I wished and hoped and dreamed I would get a chance to be in this place again, longed for the days when my ducklings followed me wherever I went, but never thought it would happen. Although, it’s a terrible time in the world, secretly I am enjoying parts of life right now, though I know it doesn’t change the pain and uncertainty of this time.
This time as been a gift, but this is not where my children belong
This time has been a precious gift. I will cherish these six weeks forever. I had a moment last week when I felt all those goodbyes from the past rush over me again when my middle son said he’d be leaving soon. “It’s been great, being here with all of you, but I have to get back.” We get it, you’re 22. You have friends, a girlfriend, and you’re ready to at least attempt to re-establish some normalcy, whatever that looks like.
I know my daughter is hanging on to the flight she has scheduled back to London, hoping she will be able to return to her new home. Our children love us, but they were happy to be living on their own and leading their own lives, or, in my youngest’s case, to start living his own life for the first time. For this mom, though, the joy of these weeks made me feel like I was saying goodbye for the first time again. I will miss you. I love having your smiling faces here every day.
This gift is not one I take for granted. As mothers, we want what is best for our children. What is best is not for you to be here with me. So I release you to the big beautiful world and celebrate with you as you social distance your way back to your life. I will send my youngest to college this fall with a newly won perspective.
As much as I treasure you being here, more than that, I want you to be where you are happy and to be where you long to be.
A mother puts her children’s needs over her own. Instead of another goodbye to grown-up kids, I am choosing to see this time as a precious gift that I never expected to have.
I have pondered the question of whether I would really want you all to be living at home, or whether I would rather watch you soar from afar and be proud of the part I had in making you the amazing, grown-up young people you have become.
The answer is simple: I wish you all the joy in the world. So, goodbye for now, again. I love you and I will eagerly await the day when I see you again. I send you off with my love and encouragement, because that’s the very best thing I can do for you.
More to Read:
Kirsten Schiff lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and is the mother of three teen and “20-something” young adults. She loves her life as a stay-at-home wife and mother, and can usually be found talking (to anyone!) with an iced tea in her hand and a smile on her face. She is known for looking at life with a sunny perspective, and speaking of sun, spends as much time as possible in her happy place, Tybee Island, Georgia. Reading and writing by the ocean, riding bikes and spending time with family and friends are top on her “K” list, a list she likes to share of her very favorite things