J.R., my oldest and a senior this year, turned 18. In all my years as a mom I have never been so sad on a birthday. I woke up weepy and my burbling emotions ebbed and flowed throughout the day. It didn't help on my early morning walk as I casually mentioned his birthday to one of the beach regulars, she declared she never heard from her grown children. The implication was 'when they are gone, they are gone!'.
Cue more tears.
A few weeks prior to this I was chatting with someone else and her empty nest experience was the opposite. She felt liberated and free to finally live her life as she wanted. It sounded like Margaritaville at her house and it didn't even need to be 5 o'clock anywhere.
Neither of these experiences seemed reflective of how I am feeling. I'm hopeful J.R. will stay connected in his own way to our family once he's out on his own, and while I do look forward to more freedom, I imagine I'll have some sadness about it along the way.
Extremes rarely capture the day-to-day realities of transitions and change. Somehow life tilts itself back into balance no matter if we want it to or not. There is comfort in equilibrium even if it is unrecognizable at first.
I keep circling back to this thought that nature fills every vacuum. If you don't believe me ask yourself how many times you've cleaned out your junk drawer only to find it needs it again and again.
This is what I am holding onto. As J.R. and Keaton get closer to leaving home, what will fill the space?
I don't know the answers yet, but I will continue to be open to new possibilities while honoring how I feel about letting go of the past.
If this next phase of life is even a fraction of how awesome it has been to raise these incredible young men with John by my side, I have nothing to fear.
J.R., thanks for making me a mom. You taught me to be bold and be myself in all circumstances.
Now, go change the world.
Inward & Onward,
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