We just celebrated our youngest’s 18th birthday by moving her into the college dorm. She’s at a great school and I’m really happy for her, but as my husband said, “I’m excited for her, but sad for me.” This is a big change for us because both of our children are now grown and we’ve just become Empty Nesters.
We spent a few days getting our daughter settled and attending meetings for parents. When we finally said our goodbyes and left her, we went to meet a group of friends for a weekend on the White River. By the time Scott and I arrived at the cabins early in the evening, we couldn’t believe how exhausted we were. The emotional roller coaster had taken a stealthy toll on us.
Three of the four couples had just left their youngest child at the same college, so we shared a lot of the same emotions. The timing of our trip together was perfect and amazingly therapeutic. It was nice to kick off our Empty Nest phase with some close friends.
I happened to read Dear Kindergarten Mom This is Where the Magic Begins and I couldn’t help but become misty-eyed. Even though my daughter wasn’t leaving for kindergarten, we were at a similar point of letting go. As we sat on the back deck overlooking the river, my friends and I discussed this very thing. It seems like every phase of raising kids is harder than the last. If we had known how hard it was to be parents, would we do it again? (Absolutely!) Our goal as parents is to prepare our children for adulthood, so when they eventually fly away it’s a mix of emotions. Pride in seeing them take on new responsibilities and challenges. Fear of the bumps in the road they’ll inevitably encounter. Sadness at not being able to see them as much and be a part of their daily life.
Margaret was homeschooled from the very beginning. I did everything I could to prepare her and it was time to let go. She’s off to a great start, and I’m really happy that she’s making new friends and getting involved. My job as a mother is never over, but it changes, and now I’ll be exploring this new frontier. (Psst! You can come along with me by subscribing!)