Monday, August 3, 2015

The Empty Nest Fills Back Up

The empty nest fills back up pretty quick.
College summer break for one daughter. Moving from the east coast to Portland for the other daughter. Two adult children - young women - back in the house.

While the older daughter - she who left for Portland today - had hoped to be here for only a month. She was here for over two months.

I can't claim to understand how difficult it has been to be back in this house after years gone or what it is like to come back to this particular home after a year at college. What I know about that is from a completely different era.

It is simply what needed to happen.

But I can certainly feel a huge sense of relief waving my oldest daughter back out into her adulting world. Maybe we were just a rest stop on her highway - a wonderful sojourn back in the heart of her family - but wow she was ready to get out of here.

How do we love so deeply, appreciate each other so fully - and revel in our independence when we escape the Family orbit? I ask that question not only for children - but for parents as well.

Sometimes its hard for me to realize that Andy and I are actually that orbit for our kids. This house is the black hole of regression where no one forgets what you did when you were fifteen or how you can push that one button that will send your brother (or sister) over the edge. And then there is us, as the parental unit - the looks we give, the tone of voice, the worry. We can't help it. When children regress, its hard not to join in. When parents treat us like we are children, we balk but enjoy the home cooking.

I don't have the stamina for parenting anymore. Call it menopause, aging, impatience - I'm not all that willing these days to be referee, short order cook, or dictator. Its hard not to put those hats on when two adult children are here long enough to lose their 'guest' status (that shiny, I'm so happy to see you phase) and start to roost. Two more adult women in the house is nothing to be taken lightly. Powerful sisterhood or a powder keg. Sometimes both at the same time.

And nothing lasts forever. The new apartment is rented, a new job starts, the college will soon open its doors...

My older daughter - who's been desperately waiting to head out, gave me a big hug this morning as she got ready to leave. She whispered a soft thank-you in my ear. I held her close, not wanting to release her... from my orbit. Damn, I thought, she was here long enough for me to get used to her being around. I kissed her cheek, told her I love her - and let go. Again. There was a bemused look on her face - too many thoughts, feelings, experiences to voice - and so she just leaned in and kissed my cheek, letting that say all that needed to be said.

I waved her off, that little car of hers loaded to the top as she heads down to the job and roommates that she's found. Off she goes again, ready to conquer the world.

The youngest has another month and then gets to head back to her friends in Walla Walla. I'll hug her close too on that day we drop her off. I'll probably get a little teary eyed, kiss her on the cheeks and tell her how much I love her. And let go. Again.

My kids, loving and tending them, is the orbit that is so hard for me to escape. And these complicated, amazing, quirky adults, who also happening to be my children, are living their lives full steam ahead. I feel loved and appreciated. I'm happy to clean out the guest room.

Parenting may be a role, but being a mother isn't. It just is. Love without strings. Faith and hope in all the wonderful goodness that will fill their lives - and letting go. Again and again.

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