It was 50 degrees out as the sun was setting. I was shamelessly bundled up in my 20 year old poofy coat with the broken zipper (I can still snap it closed), hat on, snuggled into my scarf with my hood up to protect me from the wind, sitting on the aluminium bleecher’s at Saline high school watching my daughter’s lacrosse game. It was exactly where I wanted to be.
I adore my daughter for so many reasons and her athleticism is not one of them. (Although she was a really good softball pitcher in little league) This is her first year playing lacrosse. She has played water polo for the past three years in high school. Originally she said that she wanted to be able to say that she played waterpolo for all four years of hight school. Once her senior year season came up her feelings had shifted. She worked through some things and decided to pivot and go out for the lacrosse team. She has never played lacrosse. Very similairialy to how she wasn’t a great swimmer when she decided to go out for water polo. I must admit that one was a bit more surprizing than lacrosse.
What I do admire about my daughter with all my heart and soul is her determination to be a part of a team. She is not so interested in whatever sport she is playing but she loves being on a team with people with a common thread. She also apreciates the opportunity to stay in shape and be social at the same time.
As shy as she says she is and truely feels, she is a baller in my book. Going out to try new things, being not great at it but doing it anyway. That makes me so proud of her. So what if she is not great at the sport. She is great with her people.
Sitting there on the bleechers by myself, I was as content as I could be. I didn’t want to be anywhere else and I didn’t need anyone to be there with me. I was there for my kid. In that parent way that you sit in the cold wind for two hours to watch her play for seven minutes. I loved all of it.
She is graduating this spring. We are moving past the school years. Empty nesting is coming.
I love being a parent. It has been a huge pillar in my life for 20+ years. My kids are my everything. They are chunks of my heart walking around in the world out of my control. They are amazing humans. They are becoming inspiring adults as they stumble along their own path of life. They have to figure it out just like we all do.
Navigating the retrospecus that is conscious empty nesting I can say I would have made some very different decisions if I could do it all over again but then again I don’t know if I would want to gamble not having the beautiful humans I have in front of me.
My daughter has been great in the last number of months as we have meandered in and through varied conversations about choices we made and where it led us. One thing that she reminds me of is that in this moment we are all good. Regardless of where we should have or could have zigged and we decided to zag. Its best to also own our limitted ability to see where we were when we made those decisions. So many times I have references standing too close to the tree to see the forest. In these conversations with both of my kids they are fountains of grace and wisdom.
I do love the phase of adult children. Sam and I are not talking as often as when we lived together. Ella is busy with all her senior year things but we have moments of connecting. Parenting does not end, it is just changing. I will never not be their mom.
Empty nesting is what we choose to make it. I have had a fear of being the over bearing parent who can’t let go, bugs their kids, or co-ops their lives. I am realizing that I will not be any of those things if we communicate and have good boundaries with each other. I do not need to let them go into the world alone nor do I need to hold their hand or force them onto a certain path. This is where I learn to stand next to them to listen, support and be their friend. The lines are grey and I have not quite figured it out yet but I do know that I don’t need to disappear into my own life and let this relationship thin out for them to be full adults out in the world. I am embracing that my role as mom, is still mom, but my job description is evolving.
I miss my little nuggets and the insanity that was raising small children but I am so excited for our adult relationship to grow. We have all lamented coming from fractured families. We have noticed with longing, intact nuclear families that are close knit. There is nothing we can do about that but we are talking about it. It’s real. It’s valid. It is also in our control of how we want to handle our concept of family moving forward. The kids are getting together on their own a bit more. I am reaching out more often. We can write our own story of what our family is moving forward with mindful intention.
I will never be able to hang out with Sam age ten and Ella age seven again. BUT I will be able to meet Sam age 27, Ella age 25 and Kate age 52 and I am super excited about that.