It’s that time of year. Several of my friend’s youngest children are graduating from high school this week. I was in their place two years ago, when Talee, my youngest, wore a black cap and gown, walked to “Pomp and Circumstance,” and received her diploma.
I was so happy and proud. I was excited for her, as she’d head off to college in the fall for a brand new adventure. An amazing life was ahead, and I couldn’t wait to watch her mature, change, and grow.
But wait. She’s moving away from home. I don’t get to see her beautiful face everyday, and hear her stories at dinner.
I arrived at the period in life I’d been dreading — the empty nest. All I ever wanted was to be a mom. I didn’t want a professional career, I wanted to stay home with my babies. I was fortunate I was able to do just that.
I took care of my little ones and shared the wonders of the world with them. We went to Mommy and Me classes, and I watched them learn to swim at the community pool. I volunteered at the elementary school every week and never missed a field trip. I was team mom for soccer and basketball, and baked brownies for school parties. I loved cooking for my family and having my daughters’ friends over. I thrived in a household bustling with children and laughter.
All that was about to change. I was filled with anxiety, sadness, and loss. I mourned that time in life that I could never, ever get back.
Mackenzie left for college three years before Talee. That was a difficult adjustment for all of us. But I still had one child at home. Now there would be none.
That summer after graduation we prepared for Talee to live at her new “home away from home.” We shopped for everything she’d possibly need in the dorm room and printed out dozens of photos of family and friends for her to display. She talked and sent hundreds of texts to her two new roommates and imagined how it would be living in tight quarters with the other girls. Talee couldn’t wait to meet them in person.
I was caught up in her excitement, and realized I needed to enjoy that time. It was happening, whether I wanted it to or not. My dad told me, “They’re going to grow up. You can’t stop them.” No, I can’t.
So I moved on, just as Talee did. We had to. Change is inevitable.
Talee and Mackenzie are flourishing in their independent lives. I’ve adjusted to my role as empty nester.
But I still have days when I long for that time when my girls were little and we jumped in puddles in the rain.
First image courtesy of beaconhillhotel.com
Second image courtesy of medicinenet.com