Last night I was an emotional mess. Tears were streaming down my face uncontrollably, I was withdrawn and feeling pangs of sadness yanking at my heart. It was unexpected and I felt really out of control. You would think after all these years, another child (I have six) moving out wouldn't be a big deal. I was wrong! So this morning I decided to explore why my heart felt ripped and squeezed like an orange. I'm finding a conflicted aura permeating my being and it confuses me.
When you are feeding, changing and comforting your child, you feel that this day will never come. There are days you are so tired you stare until you realize that the light has changed and it is time to move on. You work to teach him to take care of himself, take responsibility and have courage to face the world. Is this about my son moving on or is it my reluctance to admit it is time for me to move on? I'm not really sure.
I remember vividly how excited and anxious I was when I left for college in the fall of '78. (Holy cow, I'm an antique) I was the oldest of six brothers and sisters so I was the first to step out into the world. My dad drove me out to Logan to attend USU. I couldn't wait to be dropped off at my new dorm and remember driving into town, saying hi to my grandparents and making my dad drive me up to the campus. I can still see his face as I waved him away while I stood on the sidewalk. I was in such a hurry.
One of the reasons for my haste was the fact that my parents fought frequently and I wanted to be away from that tension. The biggest reason, however, was the idea that being an adult with adult responsibilities was something I looked forward to. I wanted to be in charge. I think I truly believed that anything was possible and that I could do better than my parents had. I was confident I had the skills and knowledge that would make my life far more happy and successful. I was so arrogant. It wasn't until much later that I realized that I really didn't know anything.
When I came home for Christmas, I felt strange and knew on some level that this would never be my home again. It was a strange feeling to realize that life went on without me, I felt small and inconsequential. My vision of "home" was forever altered.
This time as I embark on this new stage of my life, I am not naive and realize that I'm not sure how to navigate in this new world with no children. I stand on the brink and find myself less idealistic, more pragmatic than my younger self. I have never been one to dwell on regrets. Do I have them? Sure, who doesn't but I also know that I did the best I could and that is somewhat comforting.
So, where does that leave me? (Other than swollen red eyes and a pile of tissue.) Not sure, but that's OK. I have the wisdom of age that tells me it is OK not to know what's next. That's part of the joy of life, discovering your path and being open to interesting detours and opportunities along the way. I am also much more interested in today than tomorrow. Mostly, I know that I will be fine.
If this makes sense to you, I would love to hear from you!