In the House Alone
For the second day in a row, I’ve got the house all to myself for several hours. I wander around, thinking ‘ooh, I could do this...’ and ‘oh, or I could do that...’ for about 10 minutes. Finally, I decided I was hungry enough for lunch, which I can make all for myself, with no one else’s tastes involved... This does not happen very often. A taste of things to come...
A while back, an email conversation centred around the empty nest. How will mom cope? What will she do? How will she feel? One mom wrote a long, emotional post about how she’ll miss them (she knows, because some have already flown and she misses them) and how she’ll pine away for the good ol’ days, when they were clustered around her like little chicks, annoying and loud, but there: needy, present, safe...
My response was ‘wow, are you kidding?’
I asked, ‘Am I seriously the only person who’s been looking forward to my kids growing up all along? I loved having my babies, and loved watching them grow, and I will love watching them fly, too.’
A couple of other mothers felt the same way, but the consensus was definitely that the ‘end of the era’ created a strong urge to start all over again, and have new babies, or start fostering, or adopt... or just counting the days to grandbabies... and then what, hope the kids move back into the house with them?
Arg. No. Gee, but thanks.
I get to play with new babies fairly often, volunteering as a La Leche League Leader.
I always offer to hold the babe while mom takes off her coat, or gets a drink, or stretches for a moment or puts on her jacket, or whatever. I’m thrilled to watch them grow up between meetings, returning sometimes for years. I love seeing the little kids I knew as babies, and seeing their moms’ confidence and competence grow... I love the way they smell and their hilarious view of the world, the funny things they say and do. And I love when they go home with their moms, and I go home without them.
I don’t miss the diapers, the sleep deprivation, the mess, the chaos, the overwhelming physical and emotional exhaustion, the phases that change faster than the moon, feeling capable one moment and frighteningly out of my depth the next. I don’t miss being stretched between a toddler’s needs and a baby’s needs. I don’t miss how slowly everything got done, or how many dangers were lurking in the world for small, unpredictable children. I do not miss their inability to express their needs clearly.
I love the teen years – my kids (and other kids I know) are maturing and growing into adults right in front of my eyes, and that is as amazing as how small human toes can be. They waver between childhood and adulthood, depending on how tired they are, how balanced they feel, how overwhelmed they are by the prospects of the future. They stumble, try again, hide out for a while, and then suddenly blossom in ways that shocks and surprises them as well as me.
My mom still loves me – she still loves to see me, has no apparent upper limit to the amount of time she likes to spend with me, and supports me in everything I do. I feel a strong and flexible thread weaving through my life, from her, through me, to my girls. This isn’t going to end when they grow up – they’re just going to be very cool people some more. Farther away, but bringing new parts of the world back to me, too. Someday, we’ll change over from me being the person who brings them the world to them being the people who bring me the world. And to me, that feels right and proper –the natural order of things.
I don’t want to go back. Not to my teens, although those years were fine. These years are better. I don’t want to go back to my children’s infancy– nor to being the mom of infant children.
Those years were wonderful.
These years are better.