Consider this post a post-script. One year ago today, I started this blog with the intention of having it serve two purposes: 1) as a warm-up writing exercise before beginning my daily thesis-writing to complete my MFA and 2) as a way of working through my last year with a chick in my nest. The warm-up soon became a conflagration, completely consuming my other thesis idea, and ultimately I was awarded my MFA last May. And my baby is now happily situated on a lovely midwestern campus, roughly 485 miles away from our home. Both purposes have been served.
And then a third and completely unanticipated purpose was served; I found myself connected–in ways you can only hope to be connected when you are pouring your heart out–to a whole community of supporters willing to see me through this year of transition. My thank-yous will be forthcoming.
Time, like a chick from the nest, flies. Re-reading my first post from a year ago today brings me back to that day like it was yesterday. But the first day of Sophie’s last year of high school was not yesterday. Much has happened since then.
This morning, with no kids to get off to school, I was available to help Howie drop off his car at the dealership for service. Along the way, we saw parents standing out at bus stops with children of various ages, in the rain. There are some things I do not miss! And it flashed through my mind that I feel too tired, anymore, to provide this vigilant assistance; to be a constant presence in the life of a school-aged child.
But there are things I sorely do miss. Returning home this morning, I saw Sophie’s burnt-orange Ford Focus tucked, forlornly, in the corner of our driveway. The car she earned the use of by being a good and responsible kid. The car she earned the gas money for through jobs at Noodles and as a nanny (the job she started, also, one year ago today). The car she used daily to drive herself (and sometimes others) to school, to work and all around town to meet up with friends. The car she decorated with radio station stickers and other decals and with the occasional scrape. Other than her empty–and uncharacteristically clean–room, this idle car is the hardest relic for me to look at everyday.
To say I miss all her coming and going is only partly true. I miss the activity, the life and livliness that having a young person around automatically brings into a house. But the coming and going has also been a challenge.
I am enjoying living life according to my own schedule, a luxury I am just beginning to get re-accustomed to. I am enjoying my new position in the English department at Normandale. I am really enjoying being needed by and useful to other kids, other college freshman as my luck would have it, in ways outside my own family; in ways my hard-won degree has prepared me to be useful. The skill set we develop as mothers is, also, highly transferable.
Sophie’s coming and going will feel different, from now on. A friend of mine, whose daughter is a college sophomore this year, said that the coming and going is still the hardest part. It’s wonderful when the kids return for a visit and it’s still difficult when they leave. Although friends of mine who have adjusted to the empty nest say that the coming can actually be harder than the going!
A year ago, I didn’t know how I was going to survive the emptying of my nest. Now I know that there are a few things that make even the most arduous journey bearable. So here is the part with the thank-yous…
First of all, I must thank my modest but mighty readership for not only reading my posts but commenting on them, as well. Your support has sustained me throughout this year and filled my heart as I was emptying my nest. I can’t thank you enough for this touching outpouring of generosity. Thank you to my WordPress “followers”, my Facebook friends, my fellow bloggers, my thesis and my writing groups.
Thank you to my friend and fellow writer, Susan, who pumped me up and said things like, “You know what you’re going to have to write about at some point, don’t you…” and prompted me with good ideas. And thank you to all the other good friends who responded to these good ideas.
Thank you to my husband, Howie, who read my posts every day and kindly tolerated my daily chores that went undone almost as often. Thank you to all my boys–my sons and Howie–for playing the supporting roles in this story. And a special thank you to my Sophie, who didn’t have as much say in the matter as she should have, as her life was presented as an open book by her mother, the fledgling writer. Though she had final veto power on all posts, she exercised this power judiciously and was a tremendous sport throughout it all.
I taught a story-writing class at The Loft this summer and taught my students, as my writing teachers taught me, that in order to keep readers interested in a character, that character must undergo some type of transformation. Though I don’t believe my own tranformation has been very dramatic–if even noticeable–I feel able to move on thanks to all of you.
To all the parents of high school seniors this year and in the future, love your kids while you have them in your homes and look forward to the day that you marvel at their flight. We’ll all be here to catch you when they fly.