Who Am I?

Empty Nest

Posted: August 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Personal | Comments Off on Empty Nest

I’m no stranger to watching my children enter their adult lives. My oldest daughter is 33 and currently working as a traveling nurse in California. My older son and foster-son are both 30. My son is married with his own daughter now starting sixth grade and my foster-son is an attorney and major foodie. My younger son is 23 and graduated magna cum laude from Baylor this spring with majors in both physics and mathematics. He’s now starting graduate school in particle physics at the University of Texas after receiving their highest fellowship.

Still, none of that has prepared me for my youngest daughter starting the next phase of her life and leaving us with no more children at home full time. I became an expecting parent when I was 15 years old and still a child myself. I learned to be an adult as I learned to be a parent. I’m now 50 years old and I’ve never known anything else. That ‘parent’ label lies close to the core of my identity. And through the good and the bad, I’ve never wanted anything else. I love my children as most parents do, but I also really like them all. They are very different from each other and I’ve made more than my share of mistakes along the way, especially with the older ones, but I still genuinely love, like, and respect each one of them. I’ve never been one of those parents who couldn’t wait for their kids to leave.

But now the youngest of them has left. And I’m thrilled for her. It’s been her dream for years now to study neuroscience and she’s excited to be at Baylor. So I’m excited for her, worried about her, and cheering her on all at the same time.

But I also miss her already. Which is silly, in a way, since she’s been attending Camp Mystic every summer since she was 10 and worked there this summer as a counselor. She’s barely been at college three days at this point. Still, this time it’s different. When she’s been at camp or on any other outing, she was just gone for a little while and then would be home again soon. From this point on, she’ll only be home with us for brief interludes in her journey. And that’s great for her!

But my heart hurts even as I’m happy and excited for her. I want her to succeed. I want her to achieve her dreams. But I can’t just knock on her door and tell her something. She won’t come running up to show me something funny or interesting. I won’t see her bouncing out of the corner of my eye. She’ll only sometimes be there with us at the dinner table. We won’t have many of those ad hoc kitchen conversations in the future. Our daily lives will mostly be lived in separate places from this point forward.

And I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m not ready. I don’t think there’s any point in my life when I would have been ready for this day. But inevitably it came.

I storified some of my tweets below.

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