(this little guy is off to college)
I am gearing up emotionally for a couple weeks of big transitions and that dreaded word: change. School is starting soon and for the first time in decades I will have no little ones home during the day (there was a brief time for four months when I was pregnant with Patrick, and Andrew was in preschool that I was home alone for a couple hours-I went out and bought a puppy go figure!)
We will also only have three children home as my third goes off to college. I helped moved my oldest to his own apartment in Washington DC-no roommates finally and he is thrilled to be on his own, working hard at a job he loves and meeting new people in a big city. Our nest gets smaller. I don’t dare take out a leaf in the kitchen table-it just seems like I bought that big long table anyways, so we could all fit, with room for a high chair. Now, like a boat listing, we will weigh heavy on one end.
This is when I am told, I start thinking about all the things that are just for me. Maybe a part-time job, volunteering, hobbies, exercise classes, time to cook in peace, to get the worn house in shape and to heal from a health crisis-what makes my soul sing? That is a wonderful question to be able to ask. What an opportunity to have this time and so many choices. We worked hard for it, having the gift of being home full-time all those years, giving 24/7, but now the days stretch before me, no little ones to tend to-that has always been by soul’s favorite familiar song. I anticipate a too-quiet house, toys put away, no little voices and pitter-patters.
I am so anxious about the first day of everyone back to school, tears fill my eyes thinking about it. I know that transitions are difficult until the new normal settles. If I don’t gloss the past with sentimentality (something I have a tendency to do), some of those years I couldn’t wait for the routine of school to start, for a little more structure to our days, and a little more calmness-some days stretched me to my breaking points, some made me wish for just a moment alone in the bathroom for God’s sake. But I gave them my all, and I wouldn’t trade a thing for that blessed opportunity to share my days no matter what they ended up like. Now the season of little ones home are gone-they seem to have flown by, just like all those old ladies said they would.
Embracing change is the key to enjoying life, especially at my age. I am going to try hard to look at all the gains I will be experiencing and not the losses, because there are so many gains. I am going to focus on how grateful I was to experience decades of at-home mothering of littles. I attended a beautiful funeral this summer and one of the gentleman’s famous words were “How lucky we are to feel this way.” Think of how many of life’s moments this applies to-loss, and sorrow, grief and exhaustion and of course all the good moments too.
How lucky am I to feel a loss because that means I truly appreciated and adored a long season of life. How lucky I am to feel grief because that means I truly loved my time with my children with every part of myself. How lucky I am to feel discontentment because that means I once felt very content. And, more so than ever, how lucky I am to be alive, to celebrate a new beginning.