Thursday, July 23, 2009

After the Kids Leave, What's Next?

As the day approaches, (August 21) when I will drop my only child off at college, and help her get settled into her dorm and then go home without her, I am wondering how we got this far so fast? Where did the time go? What’s next in my life?

Some people call this stage the “empty nest” period. That is the stage before the adult children return home to hide out until they figure out what they want to do with their lives. I’m not sure what to call it.

In theory, this is the time in life when many parents feel a sense of relief. They have raised their kids, have seen them through high school, watched them graduate, and found a way to finance their undergraduate education. In some ways, I echo those sentiments of relief. This journey has not been easy.

However, I still can’t quite muster up the excitement that I thought I would feel when I imagined regaining my freedom back. No more babysitters. No more homework to check or dinners to cook or late nights waiting for my child to come home from a date. I won’t have to complain about how junky her bedroom and bathroom are. No more teenage mood swings, or hearing about the boyfriend drama and fussing about the cell phone bill that looked more like a car note! No, this would be my time to work hard, play hard and enjoy my husband. We would bond like we did when we were dating.

Yet, in spite of the endless fussing, coaching and chauffeuring to every school and church event, I honestly think I will treasure every moment. The past 18 years have been a learning experience for me. I have grown as an adult, developed all kinds of skills, learned to persevere through difficult times, and learned how to keep smiling through my own pain. But most of all, I have raised a beautiful, smart and loving young woman whom I am more proud of than anything in this world. I consider this to be my greatest accomplishment and a true gift from God.

So, as I count the days, and ensure that the tuition will be paid on-time, I look with apprehension and pride at the young woman whom I will be sending off to the world of academia. I know in my heart that although my life will never quite be the same, the relationship that I’ve built with her will never disappear, only grow and get better with time.

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