“If this is all so great, why do I feel so miserable?” These words were spoken by a friend whose children are the same age and genders as my own, and have followed a similar trajectory this far in life. Our older sons are gainfully employed and gone from our homes. Our younger daughters have both left for college this past week, coincidentally both to OSU. The recent flights of our children have left our homes a bit quieter, a bit larger and much emptier- making his words all the more accurate.
It’s true our children are following a “normal” path, and doing extremely well on that path. Honors students with full schedules of school and community involvement, and accolades from adults and peers alike. No troubles at home beyond the usual teenage boundary-pressing, and, being 50-something “kids” ourselves, it’s been relatively easy to stand in their shoes as we passed discipline. They’ve done all we could hope of our children, and made us extremely proud along the way. With the foundation we created, they’ve continued to build their own futures from that base and are moving forward exactly as they should- and we are as proud as we can be. We know this is The Way, and we know they are leaving with determined wings and strong roots. But those determined winged ones are striving to fly their own direction, and pulling the roots from our hearts. As they go, we fear their absence will leave us hollow and emptied.
We will not be hollow or empty, however, and somewhere we know that. This pain will be temporary, and our lives will continue. Our children will always make us proud, and will keep us part of their lives- though our part may become quite small for a while. We also know this brief respite should be time to regroup and reestablish the homestead, to learn how to be a couple again, to strengthen the love that helped our children to this wondrous place in their own lives. We know these things, and we know they will happen. Today, however, the bruising is fresh and painful- and feels as though it’s still spreading. We tell ourselves this is all good, it’s The Way, and we try to believe our words.
Another wise friend once pointed out that our children are temporary in our lives, and their need for our support and protection is (relatively!) fleeting. Our relationship with our partner, however, is the beginning and end. That relationship brought children into the mix, and must be strong to the end. The strength of that relationship is will provide support through the misery, and help keep those times brief. As I’ve seen in the joy of my Grandparents surrounded by their children and several generations beyond, that relationship also nourishes the roots of our families, and reminds the wings, no matter how far away, there is ALWAYS a home to fly back to.
Sure, I feel better having said all that, even believe every word of it. Now if I could just get my head to convince my heart, and my wife, all will be right with our world.
Life’s short, enjoy the ride!
As always, thank you for stopping by…