It finally hit me. He’s gone.
Now he is living the life of his dreams away from my watchful eyes. He is learning to appreciate dorm life and eating cafeteria food that is “not too bad.” He is becoming adept at navigating a university campus and getting to know his two feet that must take him everywhere.
His life is filled to the brim with philosophy, coding, and calculus, delivered in expansive lecture halls. Marching band is his jam, even though it is still approximately one million degrees on the practice field. Performing in front of a packed football arena, seeing himself on ESPN, and getting stacks of clothing from sponsors makes it all worthwhile.
He is meeting awesome people, staying up WAY too late, surviving on chocolate milk, and having the time of his life. At least that is what I have gathered from the occasional text he sends my way.
Mostly, I think he is thrilled to be a normal college student without worrying about his health. We are beyond grateful that the best case scenario has become a reality. He can wait until Christmas Break to have his benign tumor surgically removed, which means his recovery will not interfere with school.
Relief is sweet.
Now that things have calmed down a bit on the home front, I have realized how much I miss him. It feels pretty quiet around here with only three kids left at home.
The three of them walk in the door each day after school and do not even talk. Trying to get any information about their day is almost laughable. One grabs her book and settles in for the afternoon. She can hardly pull herself away from the pages long enough to use the bathroom.
Another feels like it is her responsibility to watch YouTube for three hours before starting her homework. (I cannot install parental controls or remove YouTube from her school-issued iPad, which makes it super hard to regulate. But that is another story for another day.) We hardly see her on weekends because she prefers to spend time with her friends instead of her family. Apparently, she does not appreciate our awesomeness. I’m not sure why.
And the last child? He wants to have the entire neighborhood over to play, but often must settle for some alone time because all of his friends are busy with sports. For some reason, our family has not been blessed with athletic prowess. We proudly lean towards the nerdy but cool side of the coin. (Some of the kids are not so proud of our collective nerdiness, but I think it is endearing. Also, you will have to take my word on the cool factor.)
Sometimes, I appreciate the quiet. But other times, I want it to be a little more lively. I wish all five of my kids were back under one roof, laughing and driving each other crazy. I long for a table with no empty chairs.
I do love watching my little people grow into young adults. I thrive in the role of coach and mentor instead of a manager. Cheering from the sidelines while they learn and grow and BECOME is the stuff my dreams are made of. But this new normal still feels a little strange.
Perhaps, one day, my quiet house will feel just right. But today is not that day. Right now, it feels just a tad lonely.
I am not dwelling in the land of the lonely, though. I am doing my best to embrace this new season by making big plans and starting a new journey of my own. I am building my identity outside of motherhood, so I don’t feel empty along with the house.
Even though the sun is setting on one chapter of my life, and I miss my kids who are no longer around on a daily basis, I am excited for what the future holds. I greet it with anticipation and faith.