Last year, it was “Mom, I don’t think I’m coming home spring break”.
Managed okay. Mostly because I knew we were going to see him in February. That visit turned out to be a bit problematic, but I didn’t know that at the time.
It was an opportunity for growth.
What did I hear last week? The day before he went back to college?
“Mom, you know I don’t want to live at home this summer. I want to live on my own”.
I knew he had been actively searching for internships. Had even contacted my own friends for help with that endeavor. But just hearing those words, him knowing that they would be hard for me to hear and both gently and sadly reminding me?
So we have done a great job at not being helicopter parents. He is straining at the bit to go prove himself in this world. More than he has already. Be independent of us.
I am proud of that.
Yet it sure made saying good-bye harder. Because he’s not coming home THIS spring break either. And now, I cannot kid myself that he has any desire to stay for long periods of time with us.
It’s really over.
The whole active child-rearing part of parenting.
It made me treasure some of the moments from the holiday a little more. A conversation about the power of understanding versus thinking, triggered by Malcolm Gladwell’s book “blink” that we had both read. Stringing popcorn and cranberries with me, which he had not done in years. Maybe he was trying to please me with that choice.
Maybe he was just bored.
I didn’t crawl in my car and sob like I did when he first left for college. But I was pretty teary after we got back from taking him to the airport. Held his pillow for a while. Stared morosely at said strings of cranberries. Noticed how dried up they had become. Fairly unattractive actually.
Time for the tree to come down.
Sometimes it’s a good thing that I can’t turn my mind off. At least it’s easier to distract myself from what hurts.
It’s time to move on. It’s right. It’s normal. I didn’t want to live with my parents either when I was 20.
In fact, I didn’t.
So this week has been about making my own plans for the spring and summer. Things to look forward to, to be excited about.
So long NestAche. You can come and visit every once in a while. You’re not welcome to stay for dinner.
Please share this post if you know someone who is experiencing empty nest, or “NestAche” as I call it! It’s always nice to know you’re not alone. And thanks as always for taking the time in your busy day to read!
Photography by Deborah Strauss