Empty nesting

I know I’m not the first mom to go through the myriad of mixed emotions that come with the empty nest. It is upon me now and my heart feels like a yoyo.

My younger son asked why I cry if I say I am so proud and happy for them, my dear sweet precious boys, as they go off to college. I say there are no words for all that I am feeling so my body expresses it with tears.

Tears of joy, certainly. I am incredibly proud of my sons. I am happy. They are superdeeduper fellas and both chose to go to college. BoyWonder#1 will be starting his second year at ASU, majoring in aeronautical engineering. BoyWonder#2 leaves soon for North Central College, in Naperville, IL, my alma mater, to major in accounting and finance.

Tears of bittersweet acceptance of time passages, too. I can still feel their baby skin, and I hear their toddler voices asking for another story, and I cherish the sweetness of their youth.

They don’t ask me to read them books any more, but they do tell me stories and their grown-up laughter is just as sweet as their little boy giggles.

As I type, my guys are 19 and 18. Older son will be twenty soon. Two decades I have been a mom, and I’m still figuring some things out I guess. Letting go is an ongoing lesson.

The bottom line is that I enjoy my babies and will miss them. So it goes.

We raise our children to leave us. I accept that. I do. I sure as heck don’t want them living in my basement forever. And that means there are a few tears of guilt too perhaps. There is a part of me that is happy for my re-claiming of the lower level of the house. The boy den will become mine and get a pretty makeover.

I tell myself all the good things that an empty nest brings. The laundry room will not be strewn with clothes from dryer to floor; the loud music playing will be my own, and if I buy a bunch of bananas, I will actually get to eat one.

So every time sadness wells up, I focus on the fun yet to come. I can make spaghetti sauce with mushrooms in it instead of making them on the side. I can stay up late and not because I am waiting for a text message telling me when they’ll be coming in. I can make plans to go visit them.

There comes a time when we have to stop feathering the nest. The little birds are ready to fly on their own. They really don’t want mama hovering and worrying. They want mama to pack them food and fade to the background.

They have to chew their own worms now.

And they are quite capable. My sons are smart and funny. They know basic manners, even if they don’t always display them. They know how to make a sandwich and clean a toilet, even if they never do.

They know I am here, ready to listen whenever they may need. When the ache swells in my heart, I shift my energy back to gratitude. It’s just another phase of life. Every family goes through transitions. We’ve done pretty well thus far. They have ridden the waves of life like champs. I trust they will be just fine. I trust I will be too.

(Kelly helps women in transition navigate the course. The Joy Beyond Your Dreams and Joy Jumpstart programs do just that and are enrolling now. See www.kellyepperson.com/programs or write info@kellyepperson.com and call toll free 888-637-3563. Get the free ebook “7 Steps to Happy Right Now” at www.kellyepperson.com.)