I am a master of the clickbait headline am I not?? Bwah ha ha. This is why I make the big bucks in advertising.
So, what’s this terrible thing looming on the horizon of my life? Other than jowls?
Before I get to that, let’s start with a really good thing that’s happening right now: I am really enjoying being a mom. Like, more than ever. Which is pretty unexpected—even shocking—given that my kiddos are 15.
Because who likes being a parent of teenagers, right? Teenagers are the worst! They’re selfish and rebellious and pimply and rude and sullen and stinky! They don’t want anything to do with you—until they need money or a ride somewhere! They call you a Boomer when you are GEN-X DAMMIT!
Except…not really, in the case of our resident teens. I mean, some of those things above are definitely true at least some of the time. (Seriously, do I look like a Boomer?) And it’s a damned good thing neither of them wears anything with lapels, because there are most certainly times when I really want to shake one or both of them by them.
But mostly…I gotta say. I like our kids! They’re funny, smart, curious, interesting people! They’re good conversationalists! And Lord knows they’re more rational than they were as little (if slightly less cute). And although they’re quite independent, they also seem to still enjoy being around me and Alastair, miraculously.
Frankly, they’re really quite lovely. (Having written this, I will now probably come home to one of them smoking a cigar whilst rifling through the liquor cabinet.)
NOW. This isn’t to say that there aren’t times when things are tough. We did go through an extremely rough stretch last summer with one of our kiddos, owing to some mental health and other struggles. There certainly may be more struggles and thornier issues to come.
But at the moment, anyway, I’m loving this phase. I did not expect to. But I do.
So it breaks my heart that in three short years, it’s going to be over. Both kiddos gone in one fell swoop, assuming they both start college in the fall of 2025.
That’s the thing. The thing I’m bracing myself for. (That and jowls.)
Look, I know they’ll always be my kids. And hopefully I’ll still see them plenty once they fly the coop. But the idea of not having them living full-time at home, being part of the fabric of day-to-day life...not hearing them tromping up and down the stairs…seeing their rooms empty, day after day…it’s like a punch in the stomach every time I think of it.
And I’ve been thinking of it a lot more since the kids started high school.
Meanwhile, when I lament all this to Alastair, he responds by saying absurd things like, “Yeah, it’ll be a little sad, but I also think it’s gonna be great!”
GREAT? Great HOW??
In talking to various female friends, it seems this is a common dichotomy: Moms dreading the empty nest and Dads looking forward to….I don’t know what. Spontaneous trips to the Bahamas? Sex every day in every room of the house? (Like that’s gonna happen…)
In my own, neatnik husband’s case, I actually think it’s the thought of fewer dishes, less laundry, and fewer shoes littering the front hall that’s most appealing. See, whereas I will miss the messy evidence of the kids’ presence. I will miss all of it.
I mean, yes, I will probably enjoy having more time for my writing, and will most likely do more hiking, too. I will probably enjoy the opportunity to spend more uninterrupted time with Alastair, and maybe more time with various friends and family. And maybe there will be spontaneous trips to the Bahamas. Or, you know, New Hampshire.
But if I could trade all that away for five, six, seven more years of the kids being at home, I think I would do it in a heartbeat. (Sorry, honey.)
It would be a very selfish trade, though. After all, a big part of our job as parents is to get our little birds ready to fly on their own and then, when they’re ready, let them.
But I think it’s going to be the hardest part of this whole parenting thing yet.
I’m trying not to think / worry about it too much. Trying to enjoy and live in the moment and all.
Plus, In my experience, there’s no way to minimize the sadness of endings by trying to brace yourself for them in advance. All you can do is let them come, feel the loss, and keep going.