Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Empty Nest

Think about it: you spend more of your life with an empty nest than you do as a 24/7 mothering mother.

The first 18 years are the most important in a certain, definitive way. But all the next years of your “child’s” life…are his life!

You are always the Mother. But are you the Mother who is, “ Sigh…I have to go see my Mother…” or the Mother who is, “I can’t wait to get home and visit my Mother!”

It’s your choice. And it requires a big shift in behavior.

There are lots of books about having babies, raising babies, how to be a mother.
But not so many about how to be an empty nest Mother.

As Pablo completes his first month in college, I find myself thinking about my Mother a lot. Once I left home to go to college and beyond, I didn’t realize that she had a life because I was so busy with my own. I was off traveling, discovering, working, and she was, in my mind, always at home.

It is now, as I look at the watercolors she left behind and register the dates on them, I realize she was painting. She had friends and took trips with my father and had a whole life I didn’t know about.

To me, she was there when I called on the phone, and there at the airport or bus station, or at the front door if I pulled up in a car or a taxi. Always waiting, welcoming, ready to cook, drive, shop, and hear the stories of my life.

I’m in a transition period. You don’t just take your kid to college and you’re off! There is reflection, a bit of mourning for a certain way of life, that day to day, living in the same house intimacy. I won’t be needed as a Mother in those ways ever again.

But I will be needed as a Mother in new ways. And this is what I’m musing about, as I discover who is the new version of myself and what is the life I want to lead now.

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