The last few years of my life have been years of death. Death in the metaphorical sense. Everything was ending it seemed. With my husband travelling for weeks at a time, it seemed that our years as partners were coming to an end. With my son living away at college, it seemed that our relationship was coming to an end. With my daughter preparing to leave home, it seemed that my years as parent were coming to an end. With work, it seemed that my dream of finding a job that allows me to use my experience and abilities in a useful way was coming to an end. It felt like my life was contracting; getting smaller; becoming more limited; becoming lonely.
But now, with my daughter’s departure to university, I feel a sense of completion. I feel that my grieving for my parenting years is over. I am starting to feel that, while the kids are no longer living with me, they are still connected to me. I am feeling more connected to my husband as well. I am starting to enjoy the calm in the house; the orderliness, the tidiness. I am relieved that I no longer have to “parent” the kids. It is not my job anymore to make sure that they do their homework, pick up their clothes, get to sleep at a reasonable hour, do their dishes. I am de-cluttering my life; getting rid of the things that have collected in our home over the last 30 years; creating space; preparing myself to move to a smaller home that will require less care and maintenance.
After 22 years, I have returned to yoga, because I finally have the time and energy for a class that is just for me. After 22 years, I can imagine a job that does not tie me to the town in which my kids go to school. After 22 years, I can imagine a job that involves working nights and travel, because there is no longer a need, a compulsion, to be at home every night for my kids. After 17 years of being tied to school schedules, I can imagine travelling for pleasure on a whim. I feel liberated. I feel light. I feel free.
This is not to say that I did not love parenting. I did. I loved being with my kids. I still do. But it is time for them to move on, and I can see now that there are gifts in that for me as well. It is time for me to be selfish; to think about what I want to do with the time that is left in my life. So, this week, I am feeling blessed. Blessed to have two adult children and one step-child who are healthy, happy and whole. Blessed to have a life partner with whom I loved raising my kids. Blessed to have two sisters and an extended family who make me feel grounded in the world. Blessed to have relatively good health, a good mind, and a strong heart. I am not sure what the future holds for me, but this week I am excited about the possibilities. And that is the first time that I have felt that for a really long time.