As the days and years fly by and I morph into one of those wise old ladies, I realize there will always be lessons to learn along the way – no matter how wise or old I become.
I know I’m not the first person to discover this particular aspect of aging, but as my kids head back to school and my eldest gets settled at college for his sophomore year, it strikes me how much I’ve learned in just this last year alone. I am rapidly nearing that phase in life known as “empty nesting.” Basically, it means my kids are moving on with their lives, and leaving me to sort through how I – one who played the role of supportive mom – fit in. Hmmm.
One of my friends calls it, “Chapter two.” Well, I like that better. It sounds more like the beginning of a lengthy novel than the ending of the breeding/nurturing season. My chapter two started with the departure of my eldest son, on his way to college in another state. I was ok with it and then I wasn’t. The adjustment was not smooth and I surprised myself with manic bouts of loneliness. Chapter two continued when I started this blog. I needed to share – share knowledge, experience, life. Writing made me feel like I was busy. But the loneliness didn’t go away.
Then I realized that I was lonely for more than my son. His dreams (and, now, the dreams of my other high school-aged children) were my dreams. And, in fact, they were the only dreams I had.
The hardest thing I’ve learned this year is that eventually you have to let go of the dreams you have for your children – and let them dream their own. To let go of their dreams you have to listen. Listen when that actor son of yours says he just wants to lifeguard this summer. Listen when your drummer joins an a capella group. Listen when your daughter quits chorus. They’re moving on and you need to move on as well.
The next hardest thing I learned is that you have to create new dreams – your own dreams. And it’s not easy. I’m not saying that you stop supporting your children. You’ll never do that. But you’ll learn to create new goals, new dreams, a whole new you. My recommendation is to come to terms with this before all of your children are gone. Be honest with yourself when the first one goes. And then listen…to yourself. Once you really listen you’ll be ready for chapter two – and chapter three – and so on! And chances are, those kids of yours will now support YOU!
…to be continued…