The day my firstborn got his driver’s license and pulled out of the driveway alone with my two younger daughters in tow, tears streamed down my face. One or two lone tears gently flowed down my face, but one or two quickly turned into a river as I peered out the window. “This is it. This is the beginning of the end.” Even then, with my son only 16, I was keenly aware that he would soon be leaving the nest, and my daughter, only 17 months his junior, would be following quickly behind. It was in that moment that I realized that I would somehow have to learn to live without my children in my home. I got pregnant with that son at only 17 years old, and the thought did not escape me that I had never actually been an adult without him. I had never lived without the day-to-day demands of motherhood on my task list. And yet, that morning I knew that it wouldn’t be too long before my daily motherhood duties would be in the rearview.
If you think that the day he got his driver’s license was bad, then you should have seen me the day I dropped him off at college. The summer before, I had spent more than an awkward amount of time with tears and doom, as I anticipated the fateful move. It was coming. He was leaving. The day we loaded his small fridge, tv, and bedding into the SUV and drove him to campus, I thought it would kill me. I smiled and took the obligatory dorm room photos with mom and son, as I hugged him and told him to “make wise choices,” but when I pulled away from that parking lot, tears flowed like a river and it easily took six months for me to get used to the new normal. And then, my daughter left only a few months after that!
As I have embarked upon the journey of moving toward an empty nest, I don’t mind telling you that I have probably not had the smoothest of transitions. I enabled my young adult children in those early years. I nagged. I attempted to control (which, good luck with that if you try it!). I didn’t edge into my next season with grace, so beware! The wisdom I offer here is peppered with the air of skinned knees and bloodied noses as I fumbled around with the right way to become something other than mom. Here’s what I learned:
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