June 10, 2011

Hiding Out

My "baby" is in DC for the week. This is only the second time she’s been away from home for more than a few nights since she’s been born. There is no contact by telephone; my only portal is a school blog that keeps worried parents up to date. I know she’s having a great time. Both her brother and sister went on the same trip and loved it. But, this child is a homebody and I suspect she’s ready to come home. And I am more than ready to have her back. I’m never happier than when we are all under the same roof.

My 16-year-old daughter is a little more independent than her sister. But I know she still needs me, too. She just got her license on Monday and she talks about traveling to Chile next year to visit friends who will be spending their junior year abroad. She has crossed that invisible line that separates childhood from adulthood, yet she’s not quite sure which side she belongs on. Some days she has clearly camped out on the children’s side, but more and more, I see her dipping her toe over the line to see how it feels. It takes all the willpower I have not to pull her back.
All of this and those pesky end-of-the-school year activities teachers (seem to) love to pile on at the last minute, are gobbling up time. The next two weeks will be filled with tests and quizzes, athletic appreciation dinners, meetings for the next school year’s agenda, class selections, dances, field trips… and for my 13-year-old, graduation from 8th grade. Yes, next year I’ll have two children in high school. Visions of my oldest daughter driving my youngest stop me cold.
Finally, after we reach the end of the sprint, we will be rewarded with some vacation time, but this, too, seems bittersweet. With SATs and college visits starting in the fall, I’ve come to think of this vacation as one of our lasts. The last time we are free to make our own schedules and just be togetherthe way it’s supposed to be. I’m so looking forward to this time away with my family that I’ve started to think it’s almost over even before it’s begun.
So, I’ve been hiding out. Hiding behind simple blog posts just to keep my fingers nibble and my mind occupied. Hiding my deepest thoughts away, afraid of what they might reveal. Oh my husband and I have talked about the “empty nest”, and we’ve observed how other families have coped. And unlike some of them, we’re actually looking forward to having time to ourselves. But I just want another year. Make that five. I’m not ready to accept the changes that are happening faster than I care to keep up. I’m not ready to move into another phase of parenthood that if I admit to myself, will be the most challenging one of all. I thought after years of sleepless nights when they were younger, I could now sit back and enjoy them for a while. I did. A while is just coming to an end. And it’s not as if I haven’t gone through this before. My son has been living on his own for a couple of years now, but I had his sisters around to help dull the pain and make the transition a little easier. It doesn't change what's coming next.
I am holding on to the days like a rope in a tug-o-war. I want time to stop. I want to hit rewind. And I want to hide them away with mejust for a while longer.


diane@onlinefabricstore said...

I am right there with you. My "baby" left home but came back...she was not cut out for dorm life. And while my husband and I are so grateful that we enjoy each others company, empty nest really is difficult for both Mom and Dad. Like you , we are never happier than when everyone is home, which is infrequent these days.

I thought sending her to kindergarten was hard, then sixth grade camp, confirmation retreat and, oh boy...driving. But when they are adults and go off on their own it is probably the hardest part of parenting..and you never stop worrying

If only they could stay about 8 years old when they love you so much, the homework is easy and you know exactly where they are and what they are doing every single moment!

But, like you, I am so grateful that my husband and I have fun together because wouldnt it be miserable to have time to

Anonymous said...

I read your words and understand completely. Our children are only with us for such a short time. If we could only hit the rewind button and relive some of those days...

Kimberly Merritt said...

I know I'm not the only one. Parents experience growing pains, too.

Thank you both for your comments.