Empty Nesting

I can’t believe it’s already September 1st today!

It’s been a relentlessly hot and smoky summer here in British Columbia. My flower beds look very sad, along with most everyone else’s. A couple more days and DH takes his son back to University for another school year. And here’s me, getting all sentimental. Isn’t it interesting how each stage of life gives us a new and different perspective on daily life transitions?

When I was little, I got very excited about going back to school.

I loved walking through the deep piles of birch and poplar leaves along the side of the road on the way to the bus stop. That chill in the air in the morning that would give way to a gorgeous warm fall day was so refreshing after the heat of summer. The rain usually held off until October. I loved the anticipation of seeing my friends again after two months without them.

The smell of new crayons, fresh notebooks and sharpening wooden pencils. I can smell it all right now.

When I had kids, they went to public school (for the first few years) and the perspective on those September mornings changed to overseeing them preparing their snacks and making sure they had everything they needed and then seeing them off to the bus stop. After some big challenges, we made the choice to home-school our kids and did so for 7 years. Our approach to that was that learning never stopped. We didn’t really follow the public school calendar and back to school became more of a vague awareness rather than anything directly impacting us. Then when my kids got to high-school age and the decision was made for them to go back to public school I drove them to a larger centre each day to a school that offered more options than the local one. Before I knew it, my perspective was changing again. Instead of me driving them, now I was teaching them to drive so they could get themselves to school… without my help.

At the beginning of all that, it seemed like it would always be the same. With each evolution of our family there was a shift that just happened. In hindsight, we didn’t pay it much mind. Until my oldest was ready for University.

Suddenly I stopped in my tracks and took it all in. My babies were not babies any more. How did that even happen? I mean, I know I was there the whole time, but I was so busy being there the whole time that I didn’t even consciously think about it. And then my perspective took a huge shift. I wondered whether I had done enough, or too much; had I prepared them for what was going to come across their paths?

And eventually I had the realization that it didn’t matter.

I always did what I genuinely felt was best for my children and my family. You can’t do more than that, no matter what hindsight might urge you to believe. And as my perspective on back to school changed, so did theirs.

And here I am. All three of my children are adults, functioning well, with lives of their own. Our relationship is now an adult relationship. (What a huge moment it was the first time my kids mixed drinks for me!)

My DH’s youngest is getting ready to head back to University for year 3.

And as we watch him evolve into a young man and do our best to give him the space to be that man it still pulls at my heart knowing he’s leaving and that we will likely only have one more summer with him before he is completely out of the nest. We had an early Thanksgiving dinner last night so that we could share that with him before he leaves. His birthday is in October, so we had a birthday cake too. He got those Mosaic Marbles socks I made in stage 4 of Tour-de-Sock as his birthday present and he gave me his old birthday socks to repair before he heads off. (That’s next week’s blog.)

I find myself feeling misty.

When DH and I began building a life together I was thrilled that one of his kids still lived with him. Being “Mom” always felt like my first calling. Having the opportunity to be that a little longer felt good. I’m grateful that I was able to build a lovely relationship with him and I’m thrilled that no matter where he goes or what he does, that won’t go away.

And so it’s back to school, back to the routine, back to responsibility.

It’s so easy to get lost in the routine and the responsibilities. At the end of the day, it’s all those loving relationships that we nurture that make that routine and those responsibilities okay. And hey, I get to do Thanksgiving twice this year! I can’t complain about that!

Photo by Jake Ingle on Unsplash

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