Today, I became an empty nester. In my own naive fashion, I had always been certain that this would not be an issue for me. I have a full life, a business, and plenty of friends.
I have listened to friends speak of sadness, and even grief when their children left home, and it all seemed a bit excessive to me. With my kids still safely in the nest, it was easy to brush off their emotional pain as the behavior of overwrought, overly protective parents. After all, wasn’t this the goal? Wasn’t everything that came before this supposed to prepare our children for independence so that they could head out into the world on their own? Aren’t we supposed to feel success at what they have achieved, and pat ourselves on the back for our part in their success?
Today, my youngest child left home. With one hand on the doorknob, he patted me on the head (he knows I hate that), flashed his disarming grin, and teasingly reminded me how much I was going to miss him. He gave me a big bear hug, told me he loved me, and walked out the door.
And I cried.
The tears surprised me. The week leading up to his departure had been filled with excitement and fun. Together we shopped for new shoes, picked linens for his bed, and just hung out in our typically easy fashion. We celebrated his last evening at home with a family dinner featuring his favorite foods, while his sisters offered unsolicited advice on the secrets to surviving first year at university. While I reveled in the easy banter between my children, I secretly smiled inside as I anticipated the evenings ahead. With no demands from children with uninspired palates, I would be free to cook whatever I want. I envisioned lamb, halibut, linguine with clam sauce, and mushroom risotto. Anything but chicken and rice, the long established staple of our family kitchen.
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