Yes… it’s a Simon & Garfunkle song… a beautiful song etched in my memory from childhood… but it also the phrase that came to me when I arrived home from work today.
You see, it has happened. Almost every post I’ve written since I began blogging has mentioned it at one time or another… today it is my reality. We spent our weekend moving our two youngest children into college… we are officially “empty nesters”. This term has been thrown around for years as my husband and I have approached this moment. Well, the whole weekend went well… We spent it together as a family in a rental home. Our nephew, our oldest son and his girlfriend joined us and we vacationed a few days of the long weekend before the “move in”. I did great… the diversion of disguising the whole good-bye weekend as something else really worked for me. I didn’t even cry at the moment of good-bye at the University. You see, our two youngest are going to the same college, only a 45 minute ferry ride and a 1 hour drive away. I have felt good with the whole transition… “they have each other and they are close to home, easy for me to get to them if I need or want to”… these are the words I’ve uttered to myself and others literally thousands of times in the last few months. I had adequately prepared myself… all went well at move in and drop off. They were happy, we were happy… “wow that was easy” I thought yesterday as I drove out of the parking lot of the University with my husband. I had worried a bit about my over-looking the fact that I would be saying good-bye to many of my loved ones within the same half hour, after our wonderful weekend together, but I did great. Boy, I impressed myself.
About a mile into the drive, the car was silent. There were no more piles of “stuff” to move, there was no more grocery bags of snacks and dorm room essentials that had been jotted down on lists for the last month or more… it was just me and my husband. I realized we were driving further and further away from our children… each rotation of the tires meant we were entering brand new territory… our “new chapter”… uncharted waters. Tears began to flow. I know full well that we will be fine, we “may even enjoy it” (like everyone keeps saying) but if you’ve read any of my other posts you know that transitions can be hard for me. We wept together on the highway on the drive home, not many words between us, we didn’t need them.
Well today… today is a brand new day! A new school year started today… as a school teacher that comes with its own mix of emotions. I had to switch gears last night and focus on today. A busy morning of the new routine… what I was wearing, timing of the dogs feeding and going out, just all my own stuff! I had even reached the point last night that I convinced myself how wonderful it will be to not have to share the car, my day would be my own! Bring it on!
So my first day back at school went well… a day of firsts for all the kiddos at school. New outfits, new schedules, lots to focus on! I just moved along so easily… no tears when colleagues asked how the “drop off” went? I was good.
I then left school and drove home. On my drive I saw the bus in my rear view mirror and saw parents waiting at bus stops to greet their children. Ok… So? It entered my mind… those fond memories of yesteryear came and went quickly and I moved on… no tears, I was ok. I then arrived home and the dogs were there to greet me (perfect planning on my part to have dogs a part of our life just as the kids were to begin leaving us) … That was great, I let them outside, we visited a bit in the yard. We then came inside, they were content to go to their water bowl, the excitement of my being home had wore off for them. I went to the back deck to water my plants… As I pruned and watered I became fully aware of the silence.
It was my first day back to school… for 18 years it has always been someone else’s first day back too… someone to share with. Before I worked at the school, I was the bus stop greeter… it was a hand-in-hand walk home talking about the days events. When I began working at the Elementary School my kids attend in our home town I drove us all home… a sometimes quiet or sometimes enthusiastic exchange in the car about how our days went. When they started high school it was different, I could feel it changing, but I was still the driver… picking them up at practices and having good conversation in the car with them and their friends. Then licenses were acquired and it seemed they needed the car more and more … they became the drivers and they would pick ME up… they were older now and conversations got even better.
Well, today… today on the deck I realized there was only the sound of silence. My mind went to the fact that I COULD call them, or text them… check in and see “How’s it going?” Initiate that conversation I need so bad. But I know I won’t… I remember the same head & heart battle I had when my oldest left for college… Wanting to reach out so bad with my heart but knowing with my head that it’s not in either one of our best interests. It is healthy for them to not need to talk to me ~ It’s healthy to allow distance right now. Knowing that and wanting to ignore my wisdom made it harder of course.
I cried on the deck alone today, I am crying now! Coming to full realization that this is life now. My children will only grow older by the day and need their mom less and less. It is the way it is supposed to be. They will have other people to share stories and days events with. Oh My God…. How did I get here??? My heart aches so terribly with this transition… my writing always helps me… this, this I am finding hard to write. Silence will become a new norm at our house.
I will eagerly await each day for my husband to arrive home so we can share stories. We will begin our new chapter. We started last night after arriving home from move-in weekend … we tried finding a program on TV we both might like… we tried Episode I of Game of Thrones — I can say with absolute certainty that THAT WILL NOT be our new show… I can’t say it works for both of us! What I do know is we will figure it out.
I will pray for the strength that each day of silence will get easier. That I will begin to smile easily through the memories and not cry as much. I will envision their smiling faces on move in day and know they are where they want to be. I know that growth doesn’t come without feeling uncomfortable… this is something I’ve always taught them and I will once again take some of my own advice. I sincerely love them and achingly miss them… but I know I will be ok.