I must be a terrible mother. Oh, I love my daughters, a sophmore in college in New York City, and a rising senior in high school. But after checking out a online community forum with messages from parents in tears, in mourning, depressed, feeling all the empty-nester clichéd angst I wondered if I was a bad mother for looking forward to kids being gone. Other parents post how they totally understand the sadness, the sense of loss, how it still hard after 3 years to look into the shrine-slash-bedroom of their offspring and how they can never change it.
I don’t understand all this drama that seems to take hold of some parents!! Our country was founded on people leaving home, going into the wild, trekking through plains, and over mountains, with just the food they could carry, and somehow their parents were able to go a day without crying. Did they sit and mourn? Did they save the room like Elvis’ Graceland, holding onto each tacky poster as if it was some icon of the past? No, they just went on with it, and hoped their child didn’t get dysentery or trampled by buffalo, or die on the stagecoach. Some parents seem to freak out if they don’t hear from their child three times a day.
I am ready for not having to ask questions such as, don’t you have any homework, or, well, are the parents going to be home? I look forward to buying just the food my husband and I eat, listening to the washing machine one day a week, not hearing to some of the ickiest music ever or watching another Harry Potter movie. And yes, not worrying about someone hearing us, wink wink nudge nudge. I won’t miss the slumber parties, I won’t miss finding the empty beer bottle hidden in the laundry, I won’t miss sitting on the floor outside a dressing room waiting to see if the 20th pair of jeans tried on fit better than pair number 12th. I won’t miss the school productions or tedious mandatory meetings, or the pre-dance dramas about dates, or the packing of lunches, or the other things that made parenthood what it it. I will miss my girls, of course, but I won’t wallow in the muck of self-pity either.
Does that make me a terrible mother? No, it made me a great mother who is ever so ready to open, not the next chapter of our lives, but a whole other book.
So to those parents who are down in the dumps because your kid is going to be leaving, getting a chance to live an amazing life, a life that is just a dream to millions, rethink your feelings of sadness! Count your blessings and know that those that aren’t depressed at begin empty nesters can also love their kids while gleefully boxing up trophies and rearranging furniture. We love our kids just as much, but feel more joy than sadness at their departure. This I believe
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