On My Life Right Now: Empty Nester

I used to joke that I could not wait for my three children to leave the house. How wonderful it would be to only have to worry about myself. I made plans of how I would drop everything and move to England or Paris for a year. How stress-free life would be not worrying about homework, grades,drop-offs and pickups, dinners, doctor visits,who has my car, etc, etc. Life would be about me again. Why were all these other people whining about an empty nest?

Life would be okay when they were all gone and then…my youngest son, twenty years old, who needed some direction after a not so great two years in college decided he wanted to go into the Navy. Great! Maybe the navy would give him the accomplishment and direction he needed at this point. He signed up in August and got a March enlistment date. I was happy although apprehensive. College is where I wanted him to be, safe in a dorm studying not far away from me on some military base. I was okay with it and decided to make the best of the six months he was home then his recruiter called him in October and said it was possible to get him in sooner, like November sooner. He was thrilled. Great! Uhhhh, no wait…not great.

He was now scheduled to leave November 19th. I can’t say how hard I cried leading up to that day. The emptiness of him leaving was a shock to me. I thought I would be skipping like a happy pre-schooler but I was feeling sad and lonely and he was still in the house. Before he left we went to see Spectre, we are both huge James Bond fans, I teared up in the theater. Of my three children he is my movie buddy. He understands and indulges my love of foreign film and everything BBC. When he was little we would watch PBS on Tuesday nights and catch the British comedies. I cried everyday. I couldn’t believe he was leaving. My roaddog. My boobear.

Reading this you might think he is my favorite child, he is not. I used to tell my children when they asked me who did I like more that ‘I do not have a favorite, I dislike all of you equally’  I would walk away laughing. I do not remember where I heard that line but it worked for me. I don’t have a favorite, I have such distinct relationships with each child and love them according to that relationship.

Before my youngest left my other two children had forged on with their lives. My oldest son is in a committed relationship and they have a beautiful child together, my first grandchild who I love to the moon a million times. My middle child, my daughter is a world traveller and I consider her one of my best girlfriends now. She is truly one of the smartest women I know and she like my oldest son doesn’t need me as much. My youngest still did and him being in college another two to five years would ensure that need. With him leaving for the navy although my house would not be completely empty my role as a mom would be diminished.

I wouldn’t have to come home after work and be mad because there were dishes in the sink, food on the ottoman, and lights on in every room. I wouldn’t have to give the speech about respecting others, eating all the cereal and turning-off-the-damn-lights-because-you-don’t-pay- the-light- bill-I-do. He was the last one to make me feel needed as a parent.

I always said I was more than a mom and when the time came for my children to be on their own I would celebrate it I just thought I would be a little more giddy about it.

I’m looking at my life differently now and I know I have to consistently do things to keep myself happy till I am really used to being a mom of adults and not children. I see very good things going forward but the past few months have been an adjustment and a wake-up call. Although I daydreamed of this moment and knew it would be sad I didn’t expect the deluge of emotions to be so hard as we all moved on to new roles. I’m still mom and I’m still here for them but I am missing being mommy for the moment.

I received a letter from my youngest today letting me know he will definitely graduate bootcamp January 15 and after seventeen days additional training in Pensacola, Florida will be deployed to Japan. I am truly excited for him. If nothing more I want all of my children to experience the world and he has had dreams of visiting Japan since he discovered anime.

Ha! Who’s laughing now?




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