My Almost Empty Nest is now empty. My daughter is on her second day of classes at college. She just graduated high school a month ago…she took a vacation with her boyfriend and his family, worked a couple of weeks and now she’s gone for the six week summer term. It has happened so fast, I guess I haven’t had time to ruminate over it like I normally do. Truth be told, I did do a bit of pre-ruminating a few months ago, but now I feel pretty good. Perhaps writing My Almost Empty Nest has helped me with this process.
Over the past year, I have stepped back from her life considerably, encouraging her to make decisions on her own, and to consult with me as she needs to. I took all the limits and rules off, knowing that they will be gone when she gets to college anyway, and this would allow her to fly a little with a safe place to land. I am pleased she has shown us she is a responsible person, so far. And, yes she’s tried a few things, like alcohol over the past few months, and I’m glad she shared her experience with us, rather than hiding it or worse, sneaking like some kids do. My biggest concern is for her safety, and I know we are not out of the woods yet.
Brooke has spent a good bit of time away from the nest this past year, which proved a bit bumpy for me—two weeks over the holidays and multiple weekends. But it helped get me used to the fact that my job as a full time mom is over. Roger and I practiced at being empty nesters, which is an interesting dance of it’s own. These days, Roger seems more at loose ends sometimes than me, he was the one running errands for the family, seeking the best in store bought gluten free items, driving Brooke around, while I have been home writing and working on Sharing A Journey and My Almost Empty Nest.
Brooke planned and orchestrated the move to college herself enlisting several friends to schlep her stuff and help with the move in. Meanwhile, I was nearby at a conference I hadn’t planned on attending until a free ticket came my way. It seemed predestined, each of us starting a new chapter in our lives that weekend. So she had completely moved in when Roger and I stopped by to take her to dinner on her second day at school.
I will never forget her face when she greeted us at the door—she was positively glowing. When she hugged me, she whispered “I did it Mamma!” It encompassed everything she and I had worked on since day one. Yes, she had done it, we had done it, new chapters full of adventure and growth for both of us.
She worked hard getting good grades during high school, sometimes under major duress due to health issues. She’d worked in a restaurant these last few months, having secured the job completely on her own, and left with high praises. Now, she’d planned a complicated move, taking care of all the details—and I mean all—on her own. She moved into the dorm on her own and now was hosting us, her first visitors to her new abode.
Here at the nest, her room stands tidy and empty, and I still haven’t figured out what to do with a bunch of extra stuff she left in the dining room. Little by little, Roger and I acclimate to our quiet home, and extra free time for Roger.
So haven’t I cried. Instead, I feel empowered for both of us. I think it was seeing the glow on Brooke’s face and hearing the words “I did it, Mamma, I did it!” that transformed everything. I don’t see her going off to college and starting life as an adult as an end anymore, rather beginnings for both of us. And now we’ve gone from almost to an empty nest.