This week I am taking my daughter on college tours. We will be looking at several colleges, none of which are in my State. I knew this time would come eventually, but I don’t think you are ever fully prepared. It was always somebody else’s kids who were leaving for college, moving away or whatever, I knew my day would come but it always seemed so far away, and now here it is.
I think back when she was just a baby and all those sleepless nights trying to soothe her and get her to fall asleep, I’m getting tired just thinking about it! Then the toddler years, still crying but now I can almost figure out why. Sending her off to pre-school and then eventually kindergarten. I can still picture her lined up outside of the classroom that first day, parents all around snapping pictures of their sweet, innocent little faces, almost more upset than the kids. Looking at them standing there with their backpacks almost bigger than they were and wanting to cry, both for joy and sadness. This was it, the day we were finally waiting for, when we would finally have a few precious hours all to ourselves, but sad because we were so going to miss our little sidekick. And still all of those nights helping with homework, and even more tears, generally of frustration and generally by both of us – I was so anxious for them to grow up so I would no longer have to do homework or struggle with the frustration because neither of us had any idea how to do this new math. All of the school parties, presentations, field trips, volunteer work, dropping off and picking up, conferences, I didn’t think I could take one more day of it. How happy I was when they finally entered middle school, things got slightly better but now there was even more homework, for which I was even more clueless, plus now there was more drama involved as well. Still having to drop them off at school, deal with all the crazy drivers trying to beat everyone else to the carpool lane, or worse yet using the stop sign on the street in front of the school as a carpool lane, stacking up all the cars behind while precious takes her time getting out of the car, getting her backpack, putting it on, getting her violin, and finally that school project that is a bit awkward and hard to get out of the car with just one hand. But don’t mind us, we are only waiting to drop our kids off at school as well, we can wait. And then just when the door closes and mom waits for precious to cross the street and I think great let’s get moving, the car behind her DOES THE SAME THING!!! Arghhh, not want I want to be dealing with at 7 a.m.
Finally that has passed and my daughter is in high school, she gets her own car and begins to become more and more independent, but not completely. I actually got a call from her at work one day, she was home and called me to find out if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean. I said I am at work, you are at home, why don’t you just open the dishwasher and look? Oh, ok. Now mind you my daughter is a 4.0 student, very smart, but sometimes not a lot of common sense. As frustrating as those times can be, I know I will miss that.
And now here we are, planning her future and I realize that in the near distant future I will be an empty nester, but its not how I imagined it. Yes and I said before, I knew this day was coming, but I never thought I would truly be empty. Having a failed marriage and now facing a future that quite possibly after 20 years will put me right back where I was before I met my husband, alone. Of course I have friends but mostly not of the single variety. I have a big family but they all live in another State and I don’t have much desire to move back there. For 20 years my kids have been there for me as much as I have been there for them. They filled my days, they filled my heart, they filled my eyes with tears of sadness, joy and laughter, they filled my home with their voices and filled my spirit with their love. No matter what kind of a day I had I knew that I would always be mom at then end of the day, they would be there for me and I for them.
So now what? I’m scared at the thought of coming back to an empty house every night, having no one there who needs me or just wants me there (maybe the cat and pretty sure he doesn’t want me there), having no one to share my day with and likewise having them share theirs with me. Having no one to watch stupid tv with and talk about how stupid it is, but we can’t stop watching it anyway. Yes there were so many days where I thought to myself, “I can’t wait for them to grow up” and now I secretly wish they wouldn’t.
“And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”