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Lauren’s cap and tassel arrived the other day. I took a photo and sent it to a friend, saying “Sh** just got real.”

She said, “Wow, both kids out of high school. How does that feel?”

“Honestly. I’m glad to be done. There comes a point when you’re just sick of it all. I’m ready to be done.”

And, yet, an hour later, the girls had come home from school and college, respectively, and left again, Lauren to swim practice and Kelly to her evening job. Dan was going to do something at his apartment, and I was done with work for the day.

*whistles*

I opened the conversation with my friend and added, “And, yet…..I feel sort of lost right now. Not sure what to do with my free time anymore.”

My friend L has a mostly empty nest now, with one in college and one finishing her senior year in another state while she competes with a sports team. L signed up for an Ironman and she just bought a bike shop. I used to think she was kinda nuts. I’m like…good for you girl, but….that sounds like a whole lot of work.

Now, I get it.

Parenting is 18 years of constant activity. It’s exhausting and exhilarating and frustrating and exciting. It’s a thousand things every day. With teens, sometimes it’s all the things in one afternoon, ranging from “I love that girl so much” to “I cannot wait for her to move out.” 

Lauren swam her last high school meet on Monday. It was weird to walk out of there afterwards, saying goodbye to all the other swim parents, knowing it’s unlikely we’d ever set foot in that pool area again after spending so many evenings there over the last three winters.

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L says I’ve got it a little easier with both girls staying home for college (for now), and she’s not wrong. It was much more abrupt for her with both of her kids moving out all at once. From constant activity (practices, school stuff, laundry, cooking, cleaning) to almost nothing.

My transition to the empty nest will be more gradual, more quiet evenings than not, the occasional event to attend at college, fewer people at the dinner table, etc.  For that, I’m grateful.  But, then, ask me in six hours when they are both home and a sister fight breaks out over something or other (almost always food….WHO ATE ALL THE WHITE CHEDDAR POPCORN?!). Then, I might tell you that I wish they’d go to University Park.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post. It’s meandering and up and down….like life, like parenting, like your child’s senior year. Just continuing on while you search for meaning.

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.