You may find it strange, but I am suffering the empty nest syndrome I thought was reserved for people when their children flew the coup on unsteady wings for college or misguided ideas about marriage. I am only thirty-nine darn it all. My oldest is only thirteen (fourteen next month) and my youngest is only seven.
But it’s true. I suppose this early emotional crisis has been expedited by my divorce status. Saying good-bye to your children every weekend, missing all of the weekend activities you could be participating in if they were only with you, missing all of the milestones that occur when they are with him on his time.
I miss a lot.
I miss them a lot.
But up until recently I always maintained my vision for the future. I would obviously be the matriarch and my children would always return home for the holidays. That’s just how it would be.
After everything that I’ve done for them?
I’ve sacrificed everything for them, even down to my bed and the privacy of having my own bedroom. I gave that up to my middle child so he and his brother could have their own rooms. I sleep on an ancient, spring-popping-out-of-the-mattress pull out couch in the living room. I’ve racked up credit card debt and worked the week-ends at a retail job to compensate for the money their father took with him when he moved into his girl friend’s apartment in Manhattan. Now he splits his time there and on seventeen acres across the river.
I am the one who spent countless nights soothing fears or comforting colds, waking up with them in the wee hours of the morning. I’ve fought for them and I put my dreams on hold, placing them behind my children. I’m the one who has not allowed a man to enter our family. They have a father right? Why would I add that extra layer of potential conflict?
Darn it all!
Up until recently I thought I must surely be the preferred parent. I didn’t leave after all. Only now the knowledge is just seeping in, or rather I am allowing it to seep in, that might not be the case.
Though it hurts me, I have to allow that pain to enter in. Otherwise? Well otherwise I would be stark raving mad with anger – anger at my ex-husband for robbing me, for forever making our children have to choose.
Up until recently I had decided even should I somehow acquire the money to be able to sell this house one day, I would not do it because this was my children’s childhood home. Even when they leave they will still have a nostalgic attachment. So even though I don’t want to be here any longer, I don’t want to have to worry about seeing the man I detest more than anything on Earth driving through my town, and even though I want to be as far away from him as possible without making it difficult for my children to visit, up until recently I decided I would stay here forever.
I suppose it would be accurate to say I’ve planned my life around my children. They have always taken precedent.
But now that my children are growing older, I am reconsidering my position as their mother and maybe it’s time to start planning a future where my desires and wants do not fall behind theirs anymore because one day…one day they might not be here.
Because they will always have to choose now. Every holiday they will have to choose. And they won’t always choose me. They will grow up and perhaps they will start their own families. They will fall into their lives and I will just be on the peripheral of it all, no longer the main supporting actress in their lives.
I suppose it’s time to start thinking about my future, a future alone. And I can think of many things I will look forward to doing. Traveling to places I’ve only dreamed about. Seeing the Northern Lights and floating in the Dead Sea. Meeting people and making new friendships. Discovering all the things I never knew.
But no matter what fills my life when they have all left, no matter what joys or experiences, what wonderful memories I make alone…they will always be my greatest joy, my greatest experience, and my greatest memories.
I will always miss them.