For about a year, I wept over my kids moving out. I mean WEPT. I’d be in a conversation with someone and they would ask a fairly innocuous question about how it’s going, and I’d feel the tears welling up. Sorrow was upon me like an overcast day. Granted, it was a tough year: I went through menopause, Katie left for New York, Michael left for Nicaragua (within a week of each other), and Alyssa got engaged and moved out to be with her boyfriend. That’s a lot for a woman who spent the last two and half decades in this mommy immersion called unschooling.
But eventually, I adjusted. I could feel myself taking deeper breaths. I started to enjoy my quiet house during the day, feeding the birds in the morning, drinking coffee on the patio with a little meditation music playing on my Bluetooth. Yes, after they left, I had to learn how to do all the technology in the house myself – my favorite being Pandora from my phone through Bluetooth to the sound bar in the living room. Impressive sounding, right? Anyway, I really started to lean into the idea of having time to myself to write, to think, and to relax.
Here’s what I learned from all of it:
Everything changes. The good and the bad. And if one stays longer than you thought it would, then your reaction to it is what changes.
I found everyone moving out to be overwhelming. Someone I know actually said to me, in the gentlest of ways, “It’s not like they’re dead – they’ll be back.” But that’s what my grief looked like. I surely did not feel like they’d be back. It felt like the happiest chapter had slammed shut and there was no going back to it. All I kept thinking was they wouldn’t be back to lounge on the bed and share their worries or their successes. They wouldn’t be around to make a quick run with me to the store. They wouldn’t be around to talk about their goals and their plans. Not on a daily basis, at least. But the truth that later revealed itself – they were around. They ARE around. In a different way. As the young adults they want to be.
After that year of grieving, Alyssa and Josh moved back in with us for a while. Katie came home for the summer between her NYC and LA years. Michael eventually got back from Nicaragua and found a job only 3 hours away in Dallas. There was ebbing and flowing, and then everyone moved out again. It didn’t seem to bother me at all this time.
And, after a few months with just Ron and me here in the house, we’ve had another shift:
My soon-to-be 84 year old mother has just moved into two of the empty bedrooms upstairs.