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Letting go, again (or, fluffing my empty nest)

boys hanging from swing set

It's their time to fly

Last weekend, I helped my youngest son move into the dorms.

Our nest is empty.

My husband and I have been looking forward to this new freedom, anticipating it as our kids grew, making goals for Life After Children. Not because we don’t enjoy having them around, but because we wanted to have a solid relationship that could stand on its own when they were both out of the house.

I believe we accomplished that, but there’s definitely an adjustment period where I have to learn to let go of my baby, let go of knowing what’s happening in his life day to day, let go of missing the random conversations at odd moments that I treasure most.

Two years ago, I wrote the post below when my oldest son moved out. Now that my youngest is away at school too, I can’t explain my feelings any better than I did last time.

Letting go, 8/27/14

My oldest son left home for college last week. It was both easier and harder than I expected.

He’s been working toward this moment for years, and it feels like we’ve been planning, visiting schools, and talking about test scores, grades, and financial aid forever. I was ready. He’s a solid, responsible, mature kid. This has always been our dream/plan for him, and he got into his first-choice university. I was ready.

But then as we said goodbye and walked away from his dorm on Saturday I realized that he was truly out of the house. Out. Gone. An adult who would come visit on breaks and during the summer, but with whom we’d no longer share the daily routine of home, the spontaneous conversations, dinners out on the weekend.

Yes, we are connected via text messages, email, phone calls, FaceTime, and airplanes. Yes, he’ll be back when school’s out next summer. But it’s not the same.

Maybe I wasn't ready. Maybe I'll never be.

That old cliché that “they grow up so fast” is a cliché for a reason. I can’t believe my eight-pound baby boy is now a freshman in college, making his own way in the world, (mostly) without us.

I’m happy for him, proud of him, and happy for us. I’m excited for him because he’s exactly where he wants to be, doing what he wants to do.

I’m also sad.

Letting go was easy because I trust him and believe in him. It’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Brothers

Brothers

When I was pregnant with my younger son, I remember my husband and I playing on the floor with our one-year-old and me thinking, “By having another baby, I’m changing him forever.”

Had we done the right thing? It scared me a little how much our decision to have another child would affect our first son. With that not-so-simple act, we were altering our family unit, how we’d interact with each other, and how much attention we could give him.

I’m sure some of my concern stemmed from fear that I wouldn’t know how to handle two kids, how to treat them fairly, or how to keep from having a favorite.

I was an only child, and while I enjoyed many aspects of it, I also longed for someone to hang out with when we moved or took long trips, to rehash family outings and events with from a fellow kids’ point of view, someone else who’d remember “that time when.”

Heck, I even wished I’d had someone who would force me to stand up for myself with other kids, because I never had to do it at home, and I was so, so timid.

When I married a man who was going to be in the Air Force, I knew I wanted at least two kids. Even if they hated each other—which they don’t—having someone to fight with seemed better than the sheer boredom of not knowing anyone your age.

Would my oldest prefer to be an only child? I’m afraid to ask. 😉 But from my perspective, I think my kids are better off for having each other. They have different personalities and interests, but in the end they have a shared history that binds them together.

If I’ve changed my son forever, I hope he’ll agree it was in a good way.

At least someday.