Impending Empty Nest

I am feeling rather melancholy lately. This is Garris’s senior year in high school. And he will be launching into ‘life’. His plan right now is to attend Western at Dillon. He wants to rodeo and knows the coach there, who has allowed him to come tie calves with the team the past couple of years. He could also live with Cy and Regan (as long as she’s cool with the arrangement).

I am excited for him. He has had a rough time the past two years. He has made strides in both academic and medical paths. He seems to be getting his ADHD figured out, and that has in turn helped him concentrate and focus better on school. I think he’s looking forward to getting away from the label of ‘bonehead’.

But I’m also sad. I don’t like the idea of my youngest child leaving home. I have loved being a stay at home mom and being involved in my kids’ lives. I will admit, Garris is my most challenging child. We have very different personalities, and he is the most like his dad. That can trigger me when Garris parrots hurtful things his dad has said to me in the past. Or when he behaves in ways that his dad did while we were married. I try to talk to Garris about why those things affect me and how we can avoid that reaction in the future.

Despite that, I love this kid. He is quirky and almost always happy. He looks at the world at a tilt, and sometimes it’s interesting to get his take on situations.  I have tried this past year to consciously spend time with him, doing things outside our normal routine, even if it’s just to watch a movie with him once or twice a week.

He alternates weeks between his dad and me, spending one week here and the next week there. It has worked pretty well, and when necessary, we adjust the schedule. He seems content with the arrangement. Occasionally, both his dad and I ask him for some help during the other’s week. But I try to not do that very often.

The weeks he is at his dad’s, this house is very quiet. There is no loud slam of the door when he comes home. Or music blasting from his bathroom while he’s in the shower. No extra dog needing attention. And I miss that movement and noise. Even when he’s sleeping downstairs or noiselessly working on school, there is a buzz present. Any of you with teenaged boys understand this phenomenon.

I miss that undertone every other week, and I will crave it once he takes off for the next installment of his journey. The house seems to fold in on itself when it’s just me or just Mom and me. We don’t sing and dance around the house. We don’t tease each other. We don’t cook much. The days are pretty boring.

Don’t misunderstand: I want Garris to continue to grow and chase dreams. I want him to become a good man and a productive adult. I just can’t believe eighteen years flew by so quickly. There were days I could have wrung his neck, for sure. But there were many more days that I just needed a big hug from him.

The other day, when he got here, he asked me for a hug. After Sage was hit and died, and a couple of other things from the past week, he said he just needed a ‘mom hug’.  I will miss them most, I think.

I am trying to say ‘yes’ as often as I can right now. When he asks if he can go for a drive with a friend. Or if someone can spend the night. Or if he can cook dinner (!). Because I know those requests are going to disappear in August.

I have never been anxious to get rid of my kids. I know some parents look forward to school days, because the kids are out of the house for most of the day. But I hated taking them to kindergarten the first day, because I knew they weren’t solely mine any longer. I had to share them with the world. I always volunteered as a room mom and to go on field trips. I was on good terms with all teachers and made my presence known at school. Many of my boys’ friends called me ‘Mom’.

I know we are in a transition year. And I’m trying to be upbeat. I don’t want to drag the year into a weepy mess, as I’ve seen other moms with seniors do. I want Garris to be excited for the future. But since he’s my last, I know these moments are the last times for everything. I just want to cherish these next months a little longer than I probably did with his brothers.

I was in the middle of a divorce with my oldest two, and that took a toll on me mentally, as well as physically. As most of you who know me know, it was a nasty and contentious two years. Every time I thought we were ready to sign papers, the ordeal was dragged on for another few weeks which turned into months, etc. I didn’t feel that I was truly present for a chunk of that time, because I was just trying to keep from drowning. I was in a deep depression. I was fighting rumors and lies floating around town. And my kids were being fed misinformation.

This time, I want to be fully engaged. I want to look back on this year and know that I did everything possible to send Garris off with positive memories. I won’t do well with zero kids in the house. I tend to let dark thoughts consume me when I am alone. So, I am thinking ahead and figuring out ways to avoid that.

Writing is a solitary focus, so I know I need something besides that endeavor. I am getting ready to launch a couple of home based businesses. And will share more when they become solvent. I know I need to be more social, but it’s hard to seek out people when most of the people I considered friends turned their backs on me following the divorce.

I have mulled over the thought of picking up roots and settling myself somewhere else. It’s hard to be in the same small town as your ex, especially when he’s still bitter and angry. I don’t have much of a support system here. And there is really nothing keeping me in this place. I just dread the thought of starting over again.

I like my place and my house. And I don’t think I could afford anything similar anywhere else I’d like to live. So, I will need to figure that out in the next few months. That decision might hinge on where Garris ultimately goes from here. I don’t want to live on top of my kids and make them resentful of my presence. But I also don’t want to be hours away from them. Right now, I’m only an hour away from both Sylvis and Cyris, so it’s doable to visit and be included in things.  If I move much further either direction, someone is going to feel left out.

So, as I face an impending empty nest, I also face some major life decisions of my own. My life’s purpose has been to be the best mom I could be. Some days I feel I earned that title. Other days, not so much. I am trying to look at this as a new opportunity for me, too. I will have a little more freedom to pursue some things that I just couldn’t while kids were at home. So, I am making some notes and lists about ways I can fill my time, and my next big goals.

I will be heartbroken when Garris heads down the driveway for the last time. I have to start preparing myself for a day that will be here much too soon. I will just have to fill up my empty nest with other little birdies of my own choosing. Life moves on steady, whether a person is ready or not. That has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned as a mom.

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