AUTHOR: Carolyn Savage | POSTED: 09/28/15 12:50 PM
It’s been four weeks since the boys left for college. Some times I wonder what my life would be like if our early family of four had stayed a family of four.
Sean and I would be empty nested right now. NOW! At 46! I’d be kidless! The mere thought of it makes me twitchy…and curious. Other than being well rested and probably duly employed, I think I’d be bored. And sad. I always knew there were more children in our future. That feeling of being incomplete was ever present before our four youngest came to be.
Now that Drew and Ryan are away at college that feeling of “incompleteness” is back–but different. I certainly am not craving another tangle with pregnancy. Those days are over and our family is definitely complete. But when the boys are gone two pieces of our family are missing. Of course, I know they have to be gone. They are 21 and 18. College is the right place for them to be. They have futures to prepare and dreams to chase.
I used to think the toddler years were the hardest stage of parenting. Now I’m actually convinced that the emptying of the nest is more difficult. The adjustments are gargantuan. Shifting one’s focus from daily life with someone to one without is confusing. After all, for 18+ years I focused most of my decision making on what was best for each child. When even just one of them leaves it forces a redefinition of every routine in our house.
Don’t misunderstand. I am elated for them. So excited in fact that sometimes I wish I could take their place. The idea of going back to college and learning…and having fun…well, it’s all so appealing to my 46 year old self. I am desperate for them to take advantage of every second of their collegiate experience.
That being said, somewhere around four weeks apart, I get kidsick—or family sick. I would equate the feeling to my 4pm craving for chocolate. I just need a taste. I am happy to report we got one this weekend. Drew turned 21 last week and a birthday celebration was the excuse we needed to pull everyone back into the nest. It was a 48 hour leave for them and a 48 hour reprieve for me.
Because time was of the essence, we made the most of it…
The time went by in a flash. Before we knew it I was rushing through the aisles of our grocery store, both boys in tow, picking up essentials…like Ramen Noodles and cases of water. Drew needed to depart first so he followed me to the store in his car. Time had run out and as soon as I stocked him up, he needed to hit the road.
As I stood in the check out lane memories of grocery trips past flooded over me.
They were scanning their items. I remembered practically dancing a jig in the checkout lane in order to keep them from destroying the candy display.
We were walking to Drew’s car. I remembered the frantic logistics of wrangling two active young boys in a grocery store parking lot. “Hands in my pockets.” I used to scream at them. I figured if each one had a hand in my pocket they couldn’t get far enough away to get hit.
As Drew slammed his trunk shut, groceries all tucked away, I knew the dreaded time had come.
First he gave his brother a hug… I remembered when I had to strap them into opposite sides of the car to keep them from hitting one another.
Then he gave me a hug…I remembered a day when I would have never let him out of my sight in a grocery store parking lot.
He bent down a little during our embrace. I remembered the way he felt on my hip.
And then he was gone.
Ryan left a few hours later. And the house grew quieter.
Those first few moments after a child leaves to go back to…well…wherever they belong, are hard. That lump in my throat gets a little thick for a moment. Then I remembered…College is good. They are growing up and moving forward. Their futures are bright. My motherhood tank is full. All is as it should be and I’m grateful for that.
Now…to survive the next four weeks.
I would like to wish our oldest a very happy 21st. It’s hard to imagine that more than two decades have past since he changed our lives for the better. I can only hope that the rest of his life will be as blessed!