So in 33 days, Aubrey, my youngest of four children, will graduate from high school. The realization that I am on the cusp of another major life change, has got me thinking a lot about the stages of parenting we move through. I have been parenting for 26 years! How is that possible? (Rhetorical question LOL)
These 26 years have been equally hard, and wonderful. We have been through many hard trials; two divorces, a new marriage, my DH being deployed in the Navy and gone much of the time for the first seven years of our marriage, the death of my older children’s father, a cross-country move while the older two were in college, and the younger two were in high school and middle school, and Aubrey having two major hip surgeries this past year. But through each trial, no matter how hard, we have kept our sense of humor, and we have remained a family, who loves one another unconditionally. There have also been wonderful successes too; my oldest daughter Amalie graduated from college, spent ten months in Europe, and after not being able to find a good job when she returned, applied to, was accepted to, and graduated from, Navy Officer’s Candidate School. She is currently an Ensign serving aboard the USS Carney. My middle daughter Annabelle graduated from high school, and finished her first year of college at NMSU with a 4.0 and enough credits to be a second semester sophomore. She is taking a break from college, to follow her dream of being a model, and was recently signed with a modeling agency in NYC. My son Derek has been a late bloomer but remains one of the hardest working people I know. He is also one of the most thoughtful and caring people I know. And the baby chile, Aubrey is contemplating fashion design as a career, and will take some college courses during her “break”. She has had a very difficult year due to the hip surgeries, but throughout all of that, she maintained a 4.0 or higher all year. She remains a hardworking and focussed individual.
My four are my most amazing accomplishments, they are all strong, independent and loving beings. Even though we are a blended family, my four think of each other as siblings, not “half” anything. They love each other unconditionally, it is so amazing to see them together!
But now, since my youngest will be graduating from high school and moving back East to live with her Dad and Step-Mom, My DH and I will finally be in the kid-free zone, “Empty-Nesters”! What exactly does that mean? Granted there will be no children living here, so no physical presence, but do children really ever leave you? I know mine are in my thoughts constantly whether they a “here” or not. So I am not sure that term applies to anything more than physical presence. And what are the “benes” of being an “Empty-nester”? My DH pointed out the other evening, that for him, it means he can run around the house dressed, or undressed, however he pleases (BG) . I hardly think that is the sum total of the benefits. I did think of another benefit, as my youngest is the pickiest eater of the bunch, DH and I can now finally eat the foods we like and not worry about whether she will eat what I fix. in addition, since my husband is a great forager, I will no longer be expected to cook every night. I will not miss the pathetic looking child asking, “Are you cooking tonight?” after I have been working hard all day outside. But this is not REALLY a benefit, since most nights I LOVE to cook.
For me, honestly, this whole empty nest thing will take some getting used to, because I will miss not having any of my children here. It will be a huge adjustment for me. Don’t get me wrong, there were days during these 26 years when I thought, “Why did I have children?” “What was I thinking?” And I would dream about this day! But then I look at them and who they have become and I realize it was worth all the blood, sweat and tears to raise these kids. Recently, A dear friend of mine sent me a note. She had seen Annabelle at the restaurant where she works, and said, ” What a polite and beautiful young woman!! I could still see that sweet little girl I once met so long ago. You are a wonderful woman Margy and I can see the beauty you passed onto your kids ♥ children truly are our legacy…” Such an amazing and wonderful compliment and validation for all the hard work. As for having children and being a parent for 26 years, nope I would not change that for all the money in the world!
So, I look forward to this new stage in my life, with a wee bit of fear, but I will watch my children’s journeys, knowing that I could not have loved them any better.