Those Were Not The Empty Nest Tears I Was Expecting
What really went down after I dropped off our youngest at college
This was not the plan.
Not the plan for the plane at all.
“How do you think you’ll do?”
This question has come from multiple directions all summer long.
All in anticipation of what mothers around the world dread.
The Empty Nest.
I could’ve placed one hand across my heart and the other on a stack of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and answered entirely truthfully.
“I’m fine. Actually,” I’d look around to see if anyone was within earshot to share I’m not culturally correct answer, “I’m a little bit excited.”
This was to be the plan as I dropped the youngest off at college two weeks ago and the oldest off this week for her sophomore year.
This is not to say I haven’t loved motherhood.
It’s just I’m also excited to ramp up my work, to not cook dinner, to take trips with my husband.
And then there is the whole joyful part of this chapter of motherhood no one seems to talk about.
The joy of watching your kid blossom, of trying on who they are, of becoming people.
I wasn’t around for my girls’ first steps, but I imagine this is just as thrilling.
Last I checked, this is indeed the aim of parenthood. They are our children.
Not our pets.
This is where my head was as I began to board the plane after dropping my oldest off this week.
Let freedom ring.
Which is why I was shocked as I walked down the jet way.
Big buckets of tears were taking a direct elevator from the base of my throat to fill my eyes.
They started splashing over as I stepped onto the plane.
One very crowded plane.
A lot of eyes staring back at me.
This wasn’t the plan.
All my previous feelings still rang true.
What hit me hard,
Wasn’t that this chapter was over.
Rather, that it happened at all.
Those tears splashing out in front of me as I dragged my carry-on suitcase down the tight aisle.
Those were simply tears of gratitude.
What were the chances?
I, who had forever longed to be a mother would actually get that chance?
Slim to none.
And yet, somehow,
Slim chance showed up eight years ago in the form of a single dad raising his daughter alone and another little girl I matched with at Big Brothers Big Sisters.
These became my kids.
Have you had this, Dear Reader, overwhelming gratitude that somehow the universe decided you were worthy of an attainable dream come true?
It’s enough to take your breath away.
It did mine.
As I scrolled through photos on my phone.
Tears splashed on the screen.
As text messages started to pop up from each of my girls.
“How do I put this plastic jewelry organizer together?”
“How do I load money so I can do laundry?”
Motherhood isn’t over.
It’s just a new chapter.
I shut off my phone.
It’s time for my girls and I to fly.
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