I really thought I had the whole empty nest thing under control. I talk a good talk when I encourage other soon-to-be-kid-free-moms: “Oh, that empty nest thing? Nah, not bothering me a bit. I mean, we’re raising adults here. If we do a good job, they are fully capable of living their lives without your constant supervision. Kudos, I say.” Well, I’m calling bullshit on myself.
I’m teetering on the edge of two worlds and some days I feel like if I make any slight moves I might just fall into the shrinking chasm that separates them.
It’s hard to believe I’ve held this parenting gig for almost three decades. Anyone who knows me knows that most things I do bore me after a few years, so that in itself is something. Motherhood has never bored me. How could it? When you’re trying to keep four kids happy, healthy and ALIVE — boredom doesn’t really factor into the equation. Between cleaning up baby puke to hauling a kid to school to return the toy bear he swiped from the gift shop on the school trip — life was never boring. That was then.
So, back to my calling bullshit thing. Yesterday, while sitting at our new condo with the lovely newly painted gray walls — this thought flashed through my mind: “I want my other life back.” The words came out of nowhere, and along with it this aching feeling of despair. The words turned into visions of my children in sandboxes, at ballet class, on the basketball court, going on first dates. It was a reel-to-reel slideshow of memories and there was no pause button. The cast of characters flew in and out the more I “watched” the movie unfold. Childhood friends and long-lost girlfriends. Our best friend and loyal companion, Sterling, laying under the Christmas tree last year. His last Christmas.
What the hell? Here I was in a condo I can’t wait to (finally) move into full time and instead of rearranging furniture, planning a housewarming party, and making plans for our first no-kids-in-the-house-let’s-go-anywhere-we-want weekend, I was wallowing. Big time, sobbing on the pillow, snot-nosed sadness. I had clearly taken one step to the left and fallen into that deep crevice that separated my suburban life from my city life.
After a good 30 minutes of that nonsense, Dylan arrived home (to the Decatur home that is) from a week-long vacation. I was excited to hear all about his adventures. He was excited to see all of the work we had accomplished that week at the “new place.” I settled on the couch and just soaked it all in – knowing it really won’t be the LAST time, but trying to remember that there are so many new things to learn about him – the adult him. And then, as though he felt my quiet yearning for his youth to return to me, he did something I’d been teasing him to do for a year – he shaved off his chin hair! He emerged from the bathroom looking more 16 than 18. Smooth-faced and sweetness. My boy. And I smiled and snapped a photo. Adding another memory to that reel that was now safely put back in its box–because I know it may be the LAST time he sports this baby soft face.
In the meantime, I’ll just keep standing very still while the world shifts around me.