Empty Nest Musings
Cody and I have been married for 28 years. (I think that is like 200 in dog years) And for 26 of those years we have had babies, children, pre-teens, teenagers or “pre-adults” living with us. Until three weeks ago. In a frenzy of last minute decisions, and hurried packing, with very little planning, our youngest (who turned 21 in December) moved to Austin.
While I do not have the talent to truly articulate my feelings regarding this new living arrangement… let me just say my emotions ranged from frustration (this move was unorganized and spontaneous… he packed most of his stuff in garbage bags for crying out loud!) to fear ( Dave, the same person who had decided to move on a whim…he packed most of his stuff in garbage bags for crying out loud…he had taken care of all of moving details, including renting an apartment without any guidance, advice or help from us. Have I mentioned how he packed most of his stuff?) to excitement (What is it going to be like to have a whole house to ourselves???!!!!) and then to sadness. Yes, I said sadness. I know. I know. That particular emotion was a shocker for me as well.
For the most part he moved himself on Saturday, however, we planned to help him on Sunday… (secretly hoping that day would prove to be a little more organized. Stupid.Stupid.Stupid.) In true form, that day was also completely unplanned… we finally got on the road around 5 p.m. It was dark, but we got everything unloaded and made a trip to the grocery store with David and his new roommate, Miguel. Before we left, we fed them both dinner from the food trailer across the street from their apartment… and then, we said our goodbyes. In the uber Austin-style coffee house and bar, ”Buzz Kill,” we hugged and shook hands with our youngest child and walked out the door- leaving him to start his life as a grown up…’bout time.
But, as we drove out of town- I found myself fighting a lump in my throat… and then I was shocked I was trying to fight back tears that seemed to have a mind of their own and kept filling up and spilling over my eyelids. And I sat there, silently crying and trying to figure out what exactly had triggered this reaction. SERIOUSLY??!!! The child was 21 years old…he had organized and orchestrated this move completely. His desire was to become independent, and wasn’t that my desire? Wasn’t that the goal Cody and I had set for him since he took his first breath? The answer to these questions was an emphatic, “YES!!!!” However, as we headed north on I-35 tears were still slowly and quietly streaming down my cheeks and I fought back the urge to just let go and have a good, sobbing bawl…
Cody never acknowledged my tears… whether he simply did not see them, or was actually as confused by them as I was, I don’t really know. After all, he is the one I vented to when the frustration of sharing a house with two very independent and yet very dependent, (on my cleaning, cooking, keeping it together ability) drove me to the liquor cabinet, or in all reality the box of wine. So he had every right to look at me and yell, “What the hell is wrong with you?!!!” And I would not have had an answer.
So, as we drove in silence toward Temple, I sat in my seat silently crying… and trying to figure out where all of this was coming from. It was not my first time to move this son out of my house…and just a couple of months ago this was what I was praying for... Heck- the night before this was what I had gotten excited, darn near giddy, about! This was a milestone I was planning to have a celebration for…finally- an empty nest!! And yet now, instead, I was having a harder time than I did 2 ½ years ago when he moved to Austin to go to ACC!!
As I sat and analyzed my slightly shocking emotional reaction, wishing that it was not illegal for me to have a box of wine to travel with…I began to come up with several theories of why I had been thrown into such a sad state, and since Cody seemed not to notice my emotional issues, I did not see any point in trying to engage him in a conversation to help me work through it. So, instead, I began a silent conversation with my God… and I began to come up with a great number of excuses for my choked back crying session: I was worried about David. It had happened too fast. (He did after all, pack most of his stuff in trash bags) What if he did not have enough to eat? Poor Allie. She is going to miss him like crazy. What about his friends left here in Temple? Aubrey and Hudson are going to miss him so much… they are used to seeing him at least twice a week!! Cody is going to miss him… who will he have to talk to about everything sport related? Poor Cody… surely he was sad… sadder than me…
And then.It Hit Me… I AM GOING TO MISS HIM!
I am going to miss seeing him everyday… or at least every few days. I am going to miss his dry, quick wit. I am going to miss knowing he is home, safe and sound. I am going to miss Sunday afternoons with him and Allie aggravating each other. I am going to miss his everyday friends, Chris and Kevin… I am going to miss cooking for him and whoever shows up with him…I am going to miss him showing me new songs. I am going to miss watching “Justified” with him. I am going to miss him telling me all about “The Walking Dead.” I am going to miss the “Family Feud” marathons…the laughter that filled our back yard…the groups in our kitchen… hearing him laugh every day. I am going to miss him making fun of me, snuggling with Lucy, talking to June Bug, sharing his thoughts…I am going to miss him. I am going to miss being a mom with kids in my home…BUT. And there is a big BUT… there are a many positive sides to having an empty nest!! First and foremost it is a normal transition in life and in raising children.
I know that time does not stand still… and in all reality, we don’t want it to… One of my favorite quotes is from Bob Marley, “Beginnings are usually scary and endings are usually sad, but it is everything in between that makes it all worth living.” Leaving David in his own apartment was a beginning and an ending for me…both scary and sad…but very normal.
I realize how fast time has gone by… I understand how fast it is continuing to fly… it seems like yesterday that Cody and I were the newlyweds starting on our own…and now we are grand parents...It happened so fast- but there is one thing I know for certain… I have enjoyed every second of it!!! Every day I was thankful for “the stage” we were living through… and I really enjoyed them. I knew they were all fleeting moments in time.
1) No sleep with infants (something I should blog about: Jacob getting chicken pox when Lynnsay was 2 weeks old and Cody was on graveyard shift… yes my first night alone with two babies was one with chicken pox hyped up on the anti itching meds, and one who would only sleep if I was breastfeeding her)
2) Fighting toddlers. (I wore the “turn timer” out…)
3) Elementary school (With the exception of projects… I hated projects…)
4) Middle School Hormones- every day is a mystery… the only constant is the knowledge that you are a dumba** in your child’s eyes and you are quiet possibly the most annoying person on earth! But when they need something, or some support, who do they come to? That’s right… your annoying dumba**!!
5) High School Whirlwind: Romance, hanging out, college questions, sports every day of the week…CRA…CRA… CRAZY!!
6) Post High School… new friends… new goals…questions…security…long term relationships...responsibility…
7) Your children having their own children… Grandchildren…they are my happy thoughts!
Enjoy the phase of life you are in…cherish the memories of the phases past… and remember to work on building a treasure in heaven…