The last year or so, my two children have been spreading their wings and growing up. They are both independent teens working jobs and enjoying life. I love who they are. If I wasn't their mother, but met them somewhere, I know I would instantly be attracted to both of them.
Mothering has been my passion since the day I found out I was pregnant. Actually, it has always been a part of me. When I reconnect with high school friends, they always say, "I knew you would be a great mom. You were always the mom in our group." When my first was born I spontaneously went from working full time to part-time in the middle of the school year because I wanted to be with him. When my second was born, I knew my place was at home. It was where I wanted to be. I wanted to nurse them as long as I could, I wanted to cuddle in the morning and read them all the books they could hold on library visits. We homeschooled and I was able to spend countless hours with them and the families we chose to add to our clan. When they chose to go to public high school, I found out everything I could to make it a smooth transition (minus crying at freshman orientation to my daughter's horror). Being a part of their lives has meant more to me than I can ever express. While many people set huge goals and challenges for their lives, living a simple day to day life with my children has made me feel like a complete and fulfilled person.
As my son starts his second year of college and my daughter begins her senior year of high school I feel excited for them. So many opportunities and experiences are coming their way. I also feel excited for myself. For the first time in 19 years, I have weekly date nights with my husband. We are bike riding, eating out, grilling out, vacationing, and even going camping alone. It feels wonderful to have my husband all to myself again. One night after work we met for ice-cream. Our attention has been towards our family for so long that is is nice to once again have time to concentrate on each other.
But, I miss my kiddos. Since all of our days and nights have been centered around them, it has taken a little bit of work to start planning our lives without them being around all the time. It was strange the first time we went away without them. We've had to go ahead on bike rides because there wasn't a time that worked for all of to go. I don't plan on them being home for dinner. It's strange, but at least it isn't all the time yet. I think nature is good about slowly preparing you for the day they are gone from your home completely. I still get to see them in passing and if several days go by without a good conversation, my daughter will ask for a Starbucks date. My son and I often have 20 minutes or so in the morning and the conversations are so interesting that they tide me over until the next one. Being with them is different now, but just as needed and just as satisfying.
Becoming empty nesters is a balancing act. One minute we are thrilled to have time alone together to create new routines and hobbies and the next we are sad that we are doing everything alone. Right now they do still live with us, which means we often need to put things on hold to spend time with them when they are available and not expecting them to be around all the time. They are good kids. I am so proud of them. I love that they like to share what is happening in their lives and if that means I only get to hear about it every few days or so, I'll take it. But while they are gone, I will happily spend my time alone or creating new memories with my husband.