The inevitable is happening. Daylight, instead of lingering and stretching long into the evening, is fading earlier each passing day. The air has unexpected pockets of coolness, and I find myself holding my arms tight, hugging nothing but myself. Summer is slipping away, and with the transition of seasons comes the winds of change.
I have been hesitant to think about what lies around the corner waiting for me in my role of a mother. Three children, each two years apart in age. Perfect timing, I used to think. Adjusting to change would be manageable because I would have that buffer of time to get used to the new normal.
But life never works out how we expect. My oldest left home the fall of 2012, three years earlier than I anticipated, when he decided to go to boarding school. The smaller family left behind re-grouped and got used to our foursome. This coming Tuesday, my middle son leaves for college. I thought I would have one child left at home, but that is no longer the case. My daughter is heading away to school on September 1, leaving our house and our family a shell of what we used to be.
I listen to my children chat excitedly about the adventures waiting for them, and I smile almost as an afterthought. Memories run through my brain, snapshots of time. Pre-school. Gogurts. Training wheels. Rescue Heros. Crayons. Legos. American Girl dolls. The 4th grade solar system project. The 5th grade Cape Cod Field Trip. Wing assignment for Junior High. Starting high school. Driver’s license permit test followed far too soon by the actual license exam. Senior year. Graduation. Time can’t help but get blurry from constant forward motion.
Change awaits us each and every day, and it is up to us to adjust, adapt, and embrace whatever comes our way. What amazes me on almost a daily basis is realizing how resilient humans can be. As I sit on the edge of becoming an empty-nester, I finally understand that it’s my time to dig in, to ground myself and accept this new normal with as much grace as I can muster.
With this in mind, I would like to send this message to the young adults leaving home for their first year of college: Know that you are loved. Know that someone will be making your bed and plumping your pillows in your room at home, making sure everything is ready when it’s time for you to return home for a visit. Know that you are ready for the excitement and challenges that lie ahead of you. Know that you are capable, and smart, and kind. Know that everyone makes mistakes, that nothing always goes as planned, and that regardless of what happens, you will learn and grow from each and every experience. Know that texting your parents every now and then and sending them some unexpected love will make a huge difference for those you are leaving behind. Know how fortunate you are to be doing what you are doing and use this gratitude to keep you motivated. Above all else, know that change can take time to get used to…be kind and patient with yourself, now more than ever.
For those of us who might be driving a car loaded with stuff to a new destination one day only to return later that day or the next with one less passenger and an empty trunk, I would like to send you this message: Know that you were enough. Know that you too are loved. Know that the child you are dropping off has you in his or her heart, and nothing will ever change that. Know that you may not get as many texts or calls as you would like, and while that may feel hurtful, it’s ok. When your child needs you, they will find you. Trust me. Know that unexpected care packages go at lot further than you might ever expect. Know that lying in your son or daughter’s bed while they’re gone is 100% normal and can actually be soothing and restorative. Know that your friends are there for you when you’re feeling lonely.
Finally, for those families who have lost a child, I want you to know that I am sending as much love and light your way as possible. The memory of your child is within his or her friends, siblings, schoolmates, teachers, neighbors, teammates and coaches. The memory of your child is within me, and within every single parent in your community. Know that you were enough, and know that you too are loved. ♥
May the winds of change blow softly and gently for all of us these next couple of weeks.