- The kids would leave.
- I'd feel empty (full time job and independent dreams not withstanding).
- I'd sign up for a salsa class.
- It would be over.
|A before picture. |
Outlaw Ranch, Custer, South Dakota (Black Hills)
The truth is, the process of transitioning is much more stretched out. Take today, for example.
Today, our 18-year-old is road tripping to Ohio, a ten-hour drive that she's taken many times at this point, twice on her own in her bright blue Toyota that we've named Happy Spaceship (H.S.).
And our 16-year-old is . . . well, he turned sixteen. It's his birthday today so I can officially say my youngest child is 16. He's an older teen, rather than a younger teen or a simple teen or even any kid, and his next stage in life is the 20s, aka, no teen at all. However, we are not officially celebrating his birthday on this exact date because he is working his hourly wage job 'til late into the evening. (Aka family work ethic.)
The truth is Bob and I are parents of children in their deep teen years, but we feel like parents of toddlers. Not that our kids act like babies (they're actually beautifully adult-like), but our parenting mindset is lodged in early childhood, or longs to be. We remember the mayhem like yesterday.
Parenting is whiplash.
|How I imagine |
empty nester status.
After a year of daughter-starvation, last year (academic), with Amanda going off to school and keeping so much confidence that we barely heard from her at all, having her home this summer has been positively dreamy. She even talked us into buying family-wide Dave Matthews Band concert tickets. And next up is the Mary Poppins sing-a-long at the local cinema brew pub. How she went from little girl in perpetual temper tantrum to mature family leader, I don't know.
It was only recently that I realized that we (I) probably experienced actual, clinical grief in her departure last fall. True blue, diagnosable grief. Still at this point, Bob and I know she longs to be back at her small private liberal arts school in Central Ohio, and not here with her lil ol fam, thus the weekend road trip. And, the truth of the matter is in several weeks she will be gone again for the year, and probably forever. #whatisgrief? #whatisgrowth?
Bob and I are starkly aware that we have two solid years with our son, Aidan (who is 16 today), and the time drips through us like water.
Our immediate parenting years are almost over. We are now in-between the stages of with and without children. I know that. Our kids mostly don't need us, but they kind of do. I'm trying to figure out how to work with that knowledge, reminding myself that even a self-sufficient 16-year-old boy needs a full time mother. I'm not done yet.
Natural Born Bleeding Heart