When my husband and I decided we wanted to become parents, which happened to be quite a few years before our children arrived, I really didn’t know what to expect, apart from the experience of being part of a family with kids, which I knew from my own childhood experience.
I knew I’d love my children, and also knew I wanted to be an active, involved parent. I didn’t know, however, just how deep the parenting experience would affect me, and how it would push everything else I do to the perimeter of my life. If I had been able to quit my job to be home with the kids full-time, I would certainly have done it. I just plain love being their mom.
Which makes the events of the past couple of weeks all the more challenging. Blessedly, given the current job market, our son found a job on the west coast and moved out there a little over a week ago. Honestly, it’s surreal to think that within a two week period, he found himself roommates with a great apartment, started a new job and is settling into his new life.
My husband and I are thrilled for him, because we know how hard it is for young adults to find work these days. There is no way either of us would have tried to get him to stay closer to home – after all, watching our kids launch themselves into life is what we raise them for.
That doesn’t make the separation any easier, though, particularly today: it’s their birthdays. Yes, they share the date, a strange coincidence that has been both delightful and a pain in the neck, especially during those “theme party” years when big brother refused to share his party with little sis. I don’t think there’s any kind of tired that can match throwing a little girl party, complete with games and piñata, and a big boy sleepover on the same day. Also no better way to cover your kitchen floor in cake crumbs and orange soda.
But now that they’re grown, especially now that they’re both on the other coast, it eases our sadness to know they can celebrate together. Before he moved, The Boy talked about wanting to buy The Girl her first legal drink, which I’m sure he will do. And I’m sure they’ll text us some photos of the milestone. Still, I wish we could be with them, even though I know it's now our job to let them go.
There’s nothing new about what my husband and I are experiencing; parents have felt this pain for millenia as they've watched their children take their places in the world. But you’d think our experience was the first, given how unprepared we are for the feelings and emotions. It’s a little surreal, a little lonely, and very bittersweet.
Those of you whose children are babies or school-aged or even entering their teens may think this day is way off in your future, but it's not - it’s right around the corner. You will blink one day and your kids will be gone, off working or in school. And you’ll be left looking at their empty rooms and wondering how it all went by so fast.
No matter where life takes them, and it’s taken them pretty far already, I hope my beautiful grown-up children will always know how deeply they’re embedded in my heart. Always.