I am going to be an empty-nester in August. College acceptances are rolling in from every direction and now the question is “which one?” Of course, that is not a question I have to answer, I have to be prepared to ask the right questions about his final choice. That is one of the reasons my little place of the internet has been so quiet — I have college anxiety. At first, it was anxiety over completing the applications and not being able to control how he was doing it. Then the anxiety of waiting. Now the anxiety of the choice he will make. For someone with a life-long generalized anxiety disorder, I am testing every trick up my sleeve to keep it at a dull roar instead of the everyday hum that is much more manageable.
College applications, essay editing, my work, writing fiction, and trying to be a better version of myself has sucked my soul dry. I would not change a thing because I have shown up in ways that I never thought possible, but I finally realized that I do not have to do all of the things. I hate that. HATE. IT. However, it has been a good lesson in patience.
That being said, I have no idea what my life is going to look like come August. I think that every parent whose kids go off to college look in the mirror and question their very existence. For so many years, our lives are tied up in everything parenting, even when our kids are young adults and then one day they go off to college and you are left sitting in a very quiet house missing the gaggle of kids busting through the front door, laughing at their outrageous behavior and amazed at the witticisms that fall effortlessly out of their mouth.
So that leaves the question “what are you going to do?” And I will be quite honest with you, I have no idea. I take that back, I do have some ideas — painting the kid’s bedroom and freshening it up so that when he comes home to visit it will be a comforting, soothing haven. I will probably rearrange my closet a million times, paper the kitchen cabinets, and redoing the dining room is on tap. One thing I haven’t considered is that I WILL HAVE TO WEED. The kid (he has asked I don’t use his name online) likes to work in the yard. I have not touched a weed in over 3 years and the ones here at my home in NC are pumped up on some super weed growth hormones. They never, ever go away and they are so strong that some days it takes brute force to get them out of the ground.
I suspect I will have to consider replacing part of my hardwoods by this time next year. It is true they are only three years old, but I am going to confess something that my husband does not even know — when I am alone in the house, I am something of a pacer. From the front door to the back door and a lap around the kitchen island for good measure. Pace, pace, pace. Step after step, back and forth, back and forth. When people are in the house I don’t do this, but left to my own devices, I am closing the rings on my watch while telling Alexa to skip that song because I am not in the mood for it. Pace, pace, pace.
My Mom is close to retirement and is working at the local hospital here on the night shift since moving back to NC from Maryland. She lives two hours away and sleeps here during the day when she is on duty. Thank goodness, because I don’t know if the finish on my floors would make it to Christmas.
Night time is when it will be most difficult. I am going to miss kissing his forehead when he heads off to bed, knocking on the bathroom door and asking him to save some hot water for my shower when I know he isn’t going to, and that smile on his face when he says “Mom, dinner was delicious.” Oh, I will still get to do all of those things, but they will be limited to the few times per year he is home to visit. And it is all of the little things that I am going to miss so much. Please forgive me for my periods of quiet here as I will be soaking in all of the little things, clasping them to my heart in an effort to sustain myself as I adjust to a new normal.