It is 6:23 a.m on a Sunday morning. If all has gone well with her travels, my daughter, Laura, is standing on English soil, beginning her new life. In two months she will be marrying a British citizen, and is planning on establishing dual citizenship.
Only those of you who are mothers can imagine how or why I am feeling so empty and alone right now. After all, my daughter is happy! She is exactly where she wants and needs to be.
For some reason, which I've never exactly been able to analyze, most of my very best friends over the years have been men, rather than women. At this point, turning to one of these good friends would be completely pointless. All I would get would be odd looks and platitudes..."But she is 25 years old. Why would you even want to live together anymore? She's doing what she is supposed to be doing."
And my personal favorite, "Now that all your children are grown up, you're free to do whatever you want to do."
Except what I really want to do is still be a homeschooling mother.
I've often said in my workshops that homeschooling moms have to be careful to avoid setting themselves up for the worst empty nest syndrome in the world. I followed all my own advice over the years, preparing myself, getting credentials so I could have meaningful work and ministry to do, but I never realized exactly how hard all of this was going to be.
However, as hard as all of this has been for me, I think it is ten times harder for my husband. There is something inherently tough in women, that makes us flexible and able to re-invent ourselves from time to time. The mere fact that we allow ourselves to feel our emotions also helps us to deal with them. Yes, there are tears streaming down my cheeks as I'm writing this. But at the same time, I'm feeling Laura's joy at reuniting with her beloved Rich.
And I know that I will find a way to re-invent myself, because that's what we women do. In my husband's mind, I know that he feels like he has just lost his daughter. He simply can't suddenly envision himself as a world traveller. Men just have a harder time with these kinds of shifts.
On the other hand, I know that I will now simply have my world expanded. I've never liked flying that much, and I especially don't like flying over large oceans, but now my fears will have to be put to rest, because I simply can't sit here in the United States and never see my own daughter. Men tend to say, "There just isn't any money for a plane ticket." Women tend to say, " I don't care what I have to do, or sell, or change in my life....my child needs me to come over there once in awhile and so I will find the money."
In the unlikely scenario there are actually any men reading this blog, this flexibility is something you really need to work on. And it wouldn't hurt some of you to learn how to cry once in awhile!
But I know most of you reading this are women...and you understand exactly what I'm feeling like this morning...or you will someday, if you haven't already gotten to this point in your life.
So, once again, it is time to reinvent myself. A lot of you are younger moms....and you have only recently re-invented yourselves into your image of a homeschooling mother...a few of my readers are much younger, recent graduates of homeschooling programs, who are just now re-inventing yourselves as adults, with responsible jobs, and homes. You know how important it is to be flexible and able to go with the flow.
Anyway, here I am world...I'm now a homeschooling mom emeritus. A real estate professional who needs to make some serious money.. The head of a homeschooling community, who needs to find the time to minister and reach out to share with younger moms. A gardener and "putterer about the house" who needs to find the time to get lost in projects without little children around to distract me. A runner and serious hiker who needs to prepare for a trip on the Appalachian trail. A mountain biker. A world traveller, who will finally get to see Europe, using my new British relatives as a stopping-off point. And hopefully, someday in the not-too-distant future, a grandmother.
Even though, right now, every one of those things has a bit of a hollow ring, I know that I will grow to enjoy this time of my life. Transitions are the hardest, as those of you who have gone through childbirth can attest to. And the worst part of all of this is I can't even call my mom to talk to her about it, because she died four years ago. So now I'm the mom...the one my grown up children will call for help and encouragement...and I'd better get my act back together pretty quickly, because I desperately want to be the counselor, and not the counselee
So, my favorite quote once comes back into play...from an old Amish woman..."do ye now next thing"...and we are the only ones who can figure out what that means for each of us. For me, right now, it means, "feed the dogs"...because a woman's work is never done, even when her children leave home!