Last week I had both my children in my home. This is an experience which is starting to become special. Especially since my daughter will be leaving for Africa in 46 days. We were all in the car and I uttered this statement, "I am no longer responsible for anyone." A moment passed as I really digested that. It is strictly true. Allie is 18 and Stephen will be 21 in September. Then Stephen piped up, "And how are you feeling about that?" At the moment I was able to answer honestly that I was actually looking forward to being only responsible for myself. Of course I have not gotten to this point easily. Many of you with children still in your home are probably surprised by this statement. Sure there are days you yearn for the day that no one is relying on you or you wish this teenager would get out of your house, but deep down you can't imagine having an empty nest.
I have been lucky in that Jack has never let me lose sight of him or our marriage. We have nurtured our marriage and taken time away from being mommy and daddy from the very beginning to be man and wife. He has encouraged my individual pursuits. Many women and men lose themselves in parenting. Their whole persona becomes Mommy or Daddy. Then when the kids leave, they are truly at a loss of who they are/were/want to be. So I am blessed that Jack has helped prepare me for this day.
All of this is not to say that I am not nor will I be sad. I am 48 years old and my parents are still sad when I leave after visiting them. I will miss all the things that being a Mommy to Allie and Stephen entailed. I will miss hearing about their daily joys and struggles. I will miss the times we talked in the den or at the dinner table. I will miss the smiles, hugs and kisses. Yes, I will miss them.
But, I look forward to watching the fruit of our labor grow and ripen. I love the man that Stephen is becoming. He came back from Chili looking just a little bit more mature. He is facing adult situations and sometimes succeeding and sometimes not. I hurt for him, but am fascinated by the process of him coming into himself. He is a good person with a great, sincere heart. I am anxious to see what he will do next.
Allie is an incredible young woman. She is embarking on a journey that few adults would take on. Her bravery from a wee little thing has always astounded me. She is going to grow and change in ways that I cannot even imagine. And for the first time, I will not have a front row seat to experience this with her. I will have to wait to hear about it. That is going to be hard. I will miss that. But I know that the woman who comes home next April from Senegal is a woman I will be thrilled to know and love. Her huge heart, her caring spirit, and her fabulous sense of humor will still be there...it just may be even more. Just like Allie. She is and always has been more.
This week I have had a taste of the empty nest. Allie has been at camp where no contact was allowed, and Stephen has moved back to Boone. I have enjoyed the freedom of jumping in the car to go shopping with my friends without a thought to who needed dinner when. I have enjoyed the afternoons when Jack got off early to spend knitting and listening to him read to me. I have enjoyed the collaboration on dinners and grocery shopping. Yes, there are many things I look forward to this upcoming year.
As Stephen and Allie go out into this world, they go with my heart. I will always be near and ready for a call. But I will also be going out into this world. I will be pursuing new interests and enjoying old interests. And when we are all under the same roof again, I look forward to sharing with them as well as listening to them.
Yes, this year brings lots of new adventures. I will not let fear hold me hostage. I will live this next stage in life to the fullest!