>Then, Now, and What’s to Come
>Something shattered in me as I took a walk this past, crisp fall morning as I began re-entering the world from my surgery: I realized I was all alone. One child was sleeping in, another was at work. At work! There are no longer lazy days filled board games, digging for quartz crystals after the rain, or pulling on Land’s End rain gear and boots from Lee’s Feed to slosh around in the puddles and go “exploring” on the property. They’re gone. They’re really gone.
Now, I know what you are going to say: Susan, it’s your hormones. And you are probably right, to some degree. But, like a good former therapist, I reached out to my other forty-something friends whose children are growing up and away, and you know what…they are having those same weepy thoughts.
It’s crazy to remember the endless days of wondering how I was possibly going to fill an entire day for two toddlers (and an ever-exhausted mother) when it rained, or when it was one hundred degrees, and all the days in between. There were days of making home made play dough, finger-painting, long walks picking up treasures in nature. But quite frankly, some days, I can remember myself thinking, “I can’t wait until they’re older.” Be careful what you wish for, right?!
The truth is, I love the meaningful conversations I have with my teen and tween. I also delight in their unique personalities and interests. But I feel very much on the sidelines instead of in the mix of it all. This was probably the last year of trick-or-treating: I watched my daughter scamper off with friends. Sports is all consuming: I watch them play, cheer, take photos. It’s a different season with them and I wonder what’s to come, fearing the absence of the space they’ve taken up.
What’s to come, of course, is more independence, less reliance, and finally, departure. I’m left with a huge question: what will I do with myself? I know that moms who work full-time might be having angry thoughts like, “Must be nice,” or “You really need to get a life.” I can understand that. My fellow SAH moms “get it”, though. Yes, we can return to our careers (if there are actual jobs in the future.) We can do volunteer work, get involved with the community, yada, yada. I know. I’m already working on it. Not so secretly, I’m hoping my writing career takes off and I’ll be texting the kids about what city I’m in for my current book tour while their pounding out research papers and feasting on Cup-of-Noodle (the staple of every college kid’s diet.)
A friend from church yesterday said that she tells herself not to be sad over what is gone, but to be happy that it happened. She’s right. And yet, as I type, the tears fall. “It” happened too fast. I worry I wished it away on crabby-Mommy days. I guess this is emotionally preparing me for the joy of grandchildren- not too soon (!), but someday.
As I make dinner at 10:30 in the morning, knowing the rest of the afternoon will be devoted to picking up, shuttling, serving, I will make an effort to cherish the benign…the tedium…the inconveniences, delighting in the passing smiles and thoughtful brushes on the shoulder. Soon, they will be gone, too, and so I will cherish what is.