Nothing Empty About It
Quick health update: Feeling pretty good, started one med this week, will start chemo pill next week, lots of labs and other appointments coming up, getting my port removed soon, a bone scan, and weekly PT. Yes, this is a long haul, but I'm so thankful to be done with infusions and radiation. I've been told to expect symptoms from those treatments to last two years, which isn't fun, but it's okay. I'm grateful for how things look today and that's as far as I'm gonna look.
It's been a couple of crazy weeks at Boe house. After nearly 28 years of waking up every day to the knowledge I had a young human in my house who, in one way or another, was relying on me for their daily nourishment, I have reached the phase most people call the empty nest. But trust me, there’s nothing empty about it. Over the years, as I have watched other parents reach this milestone, I’ve thought about how I would feel when this season came for Perry and me. And now we’re here. As I process it all now and think about the mom I will be in this season, it has been helpful to look back at the mom I’ve been.
I’m the mom who always did my kids laundry. No regrets there. I enjoyed it, and considered it a way to serve my kids, especially during the teen years when they were barely keeping their heads above water trying to cope with school, activities, and an overdose of emotions. I’ve seen a lot of parents wrestle with guilt over what they didn’t teach their kids before they left home. Things like doing laundry, cooking eggs, and how to change a flat tire. I’ve had a few mom-guilt moments over stuff like that, but they’re fleeting. I quickly come to the conclusion that I had to learn some of those adult things myself too and I did just fine, even without the internet. Having launched a few kids already, I am definitely more at peace watching this one go. He’ll be fine. He'll probably turn some white clothes a lovely shade of light pink. He'll probably burn some eggs. There's always roadside assistance. But if he calls and asks me for help, it’ll probably make my day to hear his voice.
I’m the mom who was too strict with my first, a little less strict with my second, probably found a balance with my third, and regrets not being more strict with my fourth in a couple of areas. My apologies to all my children for what you had to endure, whatever my approach was at the time. I was just trying to figure it out as I went. And remember, therapy is a good thing.
I’m the mom who chose mothering her kids over tending to her husband, a lot. You wanna know why? It’s because I didn’t get married to be a mom. I got married so I could be a wife and have a husband and partner. For as long as I’ve known Perry, he has been a capable, responsible, self-sufficient man. He had a great mom and he doesn’t need one now. I did, however, have children to be a mom, and I thoroughly enjoyed being needed by my children. For those of you tempted to comment or email me and offer your thoughts on how you think I’ve neglected my husband, save it for someone else. We’re on year 32 here and still going strong. Okay, some seasons stronger than others, but we’re still here, doing the work. And remember, therapy is a good thing.
I’m the mom who has had to learn a new dance - parenting adult children. This is a very different dance, with steps no one can teach you until you’re doing the dance yourself. It requires a grace you’ve never needed before and even when you think you’ve done it well, you find out the steps have changed and you need more lessons. I’m learning how the pride, satisfaction and joy you have in watching your adult children thrive is the same as when you watched them take their first steps or get their first hit in coach-pitch. It’s just bigger. I’m also learning how that pain you felt when your toddler face-planted or when your teenager got cut from the team gets deeper and sometimes darker when your adult child is hurting. This season is a mix of watching in awe as your greatest achievements in life live out their callings, and being confronted in new ways with your shortcomings and regrets. But when you add in the fun of relating to these amazing humans as adults, wow, it is awesome. I do know this - kids don’t stop needing their parents as they get older. It just doesn’t happen as often and they need you for entirely different reasons. You do less talking, more listening. Less helping, more praying. You know other voices are louder in their lives and while it makes you sad some days, mostly you are grateful for the other people pouring wisdom into your kids. And you remind yourself, therapy is a good thing.
Do you wanna know what the hardest phase of parenting is? It’s the one you’re in. Do you wanna know what the best phase of parenting is? It’s the one you’re in. I don’t think I’d want to go back to any phase with all its highs and lows. I’m incredibly grateful for each mom-season I’ve had, but even more grateful for the humans who gave me those seasons and for the season we’re currently in when they are still calling me Mom. Yes, every season has been exhausting and has taken a lot out of me, but without question, each season has left me more full than the one before. And today, my nest is still full. It's actually overflowing. Overflowing with more wonderful memories than a person deserves. Overflowing with hope for four people who love others well and who have big dreams to pursue. Overflowing with dreams of my own for what this next season holds. I’m not naive to the fact that this transition will be hard. I plan to sit on the deck and cry. I plan to annoy my children with too many texts. And I plan to remember therapy is a very good thing.