Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Empty Nester: Waxing Philosophical

Submitted by Linda
Nothing is so bad as parting with one's children. One seems so forlorn without them.
Mrs. Bennett (in the Kyra Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice)

It is somehow ironic that I am welcoming my new kindergarten friends and I feel as if I can completely relate to how the parents are feeling. Truly, the milestone of sending one's youngest child off to college (despite it only being a 15 minute car ride away) is so similar to the emotional pangs which come with dropping off a new kindergartner. Though I'm pretty certain Nick won't be crying and hanging on to me on his first day of college, I do know that he's nervous about the usual stuff: friends, classes and homework. I also know that his learning curve will be huge that first few weeks, though he will be navigating laundry and time management rather than being unable to open a juice box by himself, or worrying about not making it to the kindergarten restroom before it's too late.
Tommy's Kindergarten Graduation 1996
Nick's Kindergarten Graduation 1997
I can completely relate to this excerpt from Kristin Ogtrop, in her editor's note from the Real Simple Family Magazine 2010:

Living with your kids under the same roof is a long exercise in simultaneously wanting them to reach the next phase of development and wishing time would stop completely. Once your child is potty trained, you long for those chubby legs squirming under your grasp at the changing table. Once your child can brush is own teeth, you miss the silly clown act you had to do to get him to open his mouth for you. And as soon as your child is old enough to schedule his own playdates (henceforth known as "hanging out"), you feel a pang of sadness every time you watch him walk out the front door without so much as a backward glance.

Back when my boys where very young, I would remind myself that "days are long, but life is short". How true that is, looking back from 19 years of raising boys. It's still is unbelievable that our boys will be living their lives away from our family home and dinner table. To be honest, I'm pretty excited about their rooms staying clean, the utility bills going down, no dirty dishes magically appearing in the sink whilst I sleep, and that I'm no longer cooking for 2 hungry boys and an assortment of their friends. I will be happy to remove random rap songs that were downloaded onto my itunes, and will sleep peacefully without the sound of video gaming in the next room. Craig and I have big plans to renew our relationship by going out more together, cooking some of the meals that the boys never liked, and reconnecting with other couples that have also been busy raising kids. For the first time since the boys were born, I won't be worried about how I'm going to get them and myself off to school each day.

This future sounds pleasant, carefree and blissful. Yet, I'm certain the emptiness of our child-free home may seem loud, despite the quiet.

My vantage point now, as Nick approaches his first day of college life, is from a distance, cheering, encouraging, possibly jumping in when needed. Though he's my baby, the reality is that he, and his brother, are both adults now, capable, smart, and ready to spread their wings.
Tommy and me at his graduation, 2009
Nick and me, Summer 2010


Nancy F. said...

So poetic!! Yes, I agree there is nothing like the range of emotions as our children depart. They still need us and we still need them as our family grows and changes. Adult children are a blessing to look forward to also!

kate wallace said...

You are such a beautiful writer Aunt Linda! Your words made me cry :) I love you! Maybe Jeremy and I could join you and Uncle Craig for dinner some time :)

Tiff said...

I am totally crying. I love what you wrote!

D.J. Hughes said...

This is beautiful. I think you've captured the essence of what so many moms, and dads, feel.