When The Nest Is Quiet But Not Empty
For months I’ve anticipated the new normal for our family of six which, in the last year, went from four to five, to six for the summer, then abruptly down to three.
Our oldest left for the mission field full time and child #3 starts his freshman year in college where he‘ll play basketball. Child #2, now engaged, is a senior in college, and the youngest still has three years of high school. This revolving door of chaos has been my life for a really long time.
Big goodbyes and new adventures, including this mama changing professional roles, leaving one career to focus on the other 3.
A few observations after a week of our “new normal.”
* Snapchat filters are great diversions when you’re emotional.
* Weepiness goes away when your kid ticks you off.
* I have more dirty dishes because I actually cooked several meals in a row because….
* I’m home most evenings after thirteen years. For the first time since our oldest was in 6th grade, our fall sports schedule does not involve multiple sports with multiple games during the weeknights.
* I like routine.
* I don’t miss tripping over shoes
* I love that three of our four bedrooms have made beds (I walk by the rooms just to look at them).
* I actually make pasta on Thursday nights for the high school runner-boy to prepare for his Saturday cross-country meets because a) I’m home most evenings b) I only have him to think about 3) I can think more than an hour in advance (woo hoo).
* After the pathetic first few nights Hubby and I just stared at each other while waiting for Social Boy to come home, we now have things to do…okay, he grades papers, and I write more.
* These things are all put into perspective when there’s hurt around you.
* Counseling yourself, when you’re a counselor, is annoying.
* Time is a great commodity.
* I feel younger because I have more mental space.
* I rocked the school picture order form because I only had one to fill out. Although I forgot to send it on picture day.
* I like talking to my adult kids about adult stuff.
* We finally made a new will because our family has changed since our firstborn was 3 months old.
* I actually help Hubby without whining. Because I want to.
* I love my dog, Bubbles.
* I have a dozen cookie mixes in my pantry because several times in the last year I thought I would make cookies.
* I made banana bread from scratch for the First. Time. Ever.
* Transitions are hard.
* Routine is good.
* Being a college basketball mom is new.
* Bubbles loves me and doesn’t talk back.
* I mopped the wood floor for the first time in a really, really long time. On my hands and knees (it was gross).
When ordering new linoleum for the gross bathroom floor, someone at the carpet store said, “Wait, you have a new house.”
“It’s been seventeen years” I said.
Seventeen years where I went from being pregnant with #4, exhausted, not knowing where anything is for all those years, to having a quiet house with made beds and empty nights and just one kid to cook for.
It’s been a blur.
I don’t care so much if there are dents in the wood floor, but I did a few years ago.
Because our house is where we’ve lived with messes and noise and homework and science fair and 4-H and sports equipment and freezer meals and toys and diapers and vomit-on-carpet and basement basketball and nail polish on carpet and messes that don’t last forever.
But memories do.
So do relationships, conversations, laughter, and tears. What doesn’t last forever is the heart that aches when quiet feels big and overwhelming and sad.
But quiet has its place, too, for you to learn new things.
Like giving yourself time and space to ache, to weep, to find your new normal when you feel that you’re living a life that isn’t yours.
Kids growing up means you grow up with them. And every stage has growing pains.
But life is still good.
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