My last baby is starting to have boxes of beloved things (and new, hopefully to be beloved things) and bags of things ready to take far away to Arizona. As these preparations progress she is getting more and more excited, and as happy as I am for her, and as delighted as her excitement makes me -- every time I am alone here in the front room of our home with these boxes of her books and laundry supplies and plastic cups, I feel a tremendous wave of melancholy pass over and through me. I remember when she was a baby, and I would hear her wake in her crib, and I would be disappointed that my quiet mom time had come to an end because she was awake and would require my constant attention and have me running all around taking care of her, but then I would walk into her room, and she'd be standing there (hopefully still in the crib, as she was quite the little escape artist) with her HUGE blue eyes and that dark black shock of hair giving me her best betty boop/spanky smile, lighting up the entire space with her joy and I would forget all of my silliness and just revel in the wonderful blessing that being with her was. I remember when I would pick her up from elementary school, and she (now with glowing blonde streaks in her long, thick hair would run toward me, anxious to share every happy, exciting moment of her day - those bright blue eyes sparkling with that glow that filled up all the space, even when out doors, she shined more brightly than even the Colorado sun. I remember when she finally took a trip away from home without her dad and I, and on her return, so much excitement about all that she had seen, so many stories to tell, that beautiful radiant glow filling the space again.
I feel like I can't bear the idea of not being in the presence of that radiance for such a long time. I don't know how I will get through my days with only her voice on the end of the phone or a grainy image on my computer screen if I can get her to skype with me for more than 5 minutes. I felt a tremendous sense of loss each time my other children moved away for college also, but there was always that comfort that my darling Spanky would be there at home, wrapping me up in her joy and excitement, sharing her stories, her woes and concerns, her gossip about friends, her unbelievable curiosity about the world and her absolute enchantment when she learned new things. Now they are all away, and I just imagine these empty bedrooms, and nowhere to go, nowhere to "have to be", no excitement because I decided to surprise them with a favorite meal for no reason, or bought something silly that reminds me of them and brought it home. No end of the day, best and worst stories. It's in some ways as if I am losing all three of them at once to have her going - I thought that an empty nest would be hard to bear. I knew that when people talked about it, they meant that it was really hard for a mom like me - I had no idea I would feel so utterly heartbroken and lonely. I love my husband, and there is a certain anticipation of lovely times of just the two of us - but honestly, I'm afraid that without my children I don't have much to offer to anyone... I don't know who I will be, my identity feels at risk, my happiness feels doomed, and I want my mommy to help hold me up.
I must make these moments of celebration, moments of gratitude for all that is wonderful and amazing about this huge milestone in all of lives. And I am so grateful that my children have these opportunities, that they are capable to taking advantage of them, and that I have completed that part of my job as a parent, to prepare them for this, and to let them have this. I may need a little reminding now and then that it is about celebration and gratitude -- so if your reading this, and you are experiencing anything similar -- here is your reminder to be filled with gratitude and celebrate with gusto, now please remind me!