Back in June when my youngest child Christopher graduated from high school, I wrote about letting go. I said I was ready because he was ready. I lied.
I lied to myself, of course. I wasn’t ready to really let go. I wasn’t ready for the flood of emotions (there were a lot of them). I wasn’t ready for the loss and I wasn’t ready for all of the questions I received from those around me.
“So, now what?”
“What are you going to do with all of that free time of yours?”
“What are you going to do every night when you used to eat dinner with him?” (I don’t know? Learn to dance?)
“What are you going to do with his room?” (Keep it exactly as it is.)
“What are you going to do with his dog?” (Sleep with him myself.)
“What are you going to do with yourself?” (Do I have to do something with myself?)
I’m grateful for the advice that so many of you shared with me on Facebook, as well as on other social media outlets.
“It’s your turn now. Take time for yourself,” said Sandy Hendricks.
“Stay busy. Help others,” said Kate Johnson.
“Wear sunglasses as you say your goodbyes,” said Connie Lowry.
“Give yourself a two-week adjustment period,” said Val Johnson Slininger.
“Give yourself 6 months. You will love it,” said Lynne Doughan.
Cristine Henn Sausa also shared this quote, which I read at just the right moment:
So when the moment came, I took a deep breath, moved my baby in (oh, excuse me, my young man), and moved myself out.
It helped that I could see how happy Christopher was and is. It helped that he told me, “Mom, you did a great job. Don’t worry. I’m fine.” (Special thanks to my daughter Katherine, who helped me with the move. Moving boys is sooo different from girls, FYI.)
It helped that I knew I gave him my best and that he brought out a kinder, gentler me, which I’m rather enjoying. It also helped that there was a football game I didn’t have tickets to, so I was more or less forced to head out and back to my own life.
So, now what?
Well… I’m going to give myself the two weeks that were suggested (maybe I’ll even allow myself the six months). I’m going to schedule dinners with friends who I haven’t gone out with in, like, 27 years! I’m going to keep my Sunday family dinners going, and I’m going to keep broadening the concept of family.
I’m also going to throw out any old mom clothes that still hang in my closet for some weird reason. I’m going to look for adventures in every part of my life (I already have one on my calendar for October). I’m going to focus on my mission to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and empower my heart and soul.
Look at that. I’ve got stuff to do! And it’s only been one day.
So on this blessed day, when Mother Teresa is being canonized, I’m going to focus my motherly love on my other adult kids who still live in town, and I’m going to mother myself and anyone else who shows up looking for some motherly love. Mother Teresa’s life has taught me to have faith, to stay in it and stay at it, to be of service, and to never, ever doubt the power—actually the miracle—of motherly love.
Knowing that truth makes me realize that the empty nest label is a misnomer—or better yet, an outdated label. Because once a mother, always a mother. A loving home is always a loving home (whether kids are in their rooms or not).
I returned home from moving my son in with a heavy heart, and I’m not going to lie, some fear and anxiety about how I’m going to manage moving forward. But then I sat down, found my mom’s intentional fortitude, and told myself this: There is nothing empty about my nest, my home, me, or my life! Dinner anyone?
That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. What about you?