My daughter and a good friend from college have moved to a new apartment recently. She told me that she and her friend would really like to fill their pied-a-terre with plants. Could I please help them with this? I smiled to myself. She’s into plants now.
Last year, when she first moved to the city with her three girlfriends from college, I would get text and email messages, usually with a photo attached, and the words, “I’m becoming my mother!” This is in reference to such minutiae as “the dish towel is for drying dishes and the hand towel is for drying hands. Don’t dare confuse one with the other! Ever!”
I love it when she comes home. We would be visited, although we are not home! There would be telltale signs of her having showered in her bathroom. Or, I would find my leftover adobo in the fridge gone and there would be dishes drying on the rack. Or, there would be a few things missing from the kitchen. I smile contentedly to myself.
It took me more than a year to get over the sense of isolation her departure ushered in to our daily life. When she was growing up, there was a schedule to follow during the week and another on the weekends. There were school events and sporting events. There were school sponsored activities and outside commitments that meant some travel to as far as Salt Lake City, Reno, or Dallas. And then, there were the school breaks. We mapped out our lives around all these. We took her everywhere with us. I guess she developed the travel “bug” from all those jaunts across the globe.
Nowadays, I catch myself thinking of how her day is going out there, or how she’s keeping her apartment together, or where she’s spending the weekend when she’s not calling us for Dim Sum or brunch in the city. But there is a vague calmness to these thoughts now. I no longer worry that she might get caught in a downpour or heaven forbid, mugged in some dark alley. It’s the quiet realization of many things I cannot control even by worrying, or the understanding of her separateness from us.
We knew we would have to allow her to get out there and make her own decisions. And her own mistakes. This, while we’re still around and able to help her pick up the pieces and move forward. We reassure ourselves that we shared, instilled, and drummed into her all our best values and practices in the hope it might make a difference for her.
I think of the opportunities that lie ahead for her, and I’m almost envious. I think of all the societal and economic ills and I’m afraid for her. But all in all, I live vicariously through her. I enjoy hearing the “harrowing” tales, the little triumphs, the clever ideas, the smart and interesting friends. Yes, I’m a part of that, but not in the way I was when she was growing up. More like a consultant, at times, but mostly, a spectator in the wings, but nevertheless, still a part. I learn from her, and from her friends. I’m crossing my fingers their generation will have the perseverance to change societal norms towards greater humanity as we move to a more global community.
She’s become my sounding board now. I find myself lamenting on those broad shoulders more and more. She, with the ears to listen when I’m frustrated. She, with the words of encouragement, the sunny optimism, putting things in perspective in a few succinct statements. The roles may have reversed. I want to be more like her now.
- What Does An Empty Nest Look Like? (kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com)
- Welcome to the Empty Nest (fourtuitous.com)
- My Nest is Empty – Again (middleagedcoed.wordpress.com)
- Pets and the empty nest (afterthekidsleave.com)
- Empty Nest: the Beginning (emptynestfullstomachs.wordpress.com)
- The Last Supper. (davidkanigan.com)