There comes a time in every relationship when there's an urgent need to reconnect: when the kids leave, in the aftermath of an affair, or when everything's just got a bit stale. Even couples who felt they were rubbing along quite amicably while the kids were at home are forced to recognize that they've been living parallel lives when the kids leave.
The shocking and painful reality hit me as my last child drove away to college: I will live without my children longer than I will live with them. I stood alone in the empty house and howled like a wounded beast. Then I blew my nose, grabbed my work gloves, and proceeded to convert my son's bedroom into a writing studio. Finally, Mama created her own space!
There was a time when I took pride in the fact that my house was one of the busiest (and noisiest) on the street. I had four children of my own, took care of five others during the after school hours, and maintained a revolving door for all the neighborhood kids to come over whenever they chose. My house was always LOUD. Music blasting, televisions blaring, giggling, squealing, and raucous games of basketball in the driveway --this was the norm.
The great migration to college begins this week. Bed, Bath and Beyond has been sacked and the booty loaded in the car, so heavily weighted down that the back bumper practically scrapes the ground. Move-in day dawns, inevitably hot and humid, with all the 'stuff' needing to be carried up at least three flights of stairs. That's the easy part.
Now that I'm an empty nester with a world full of possibilities, I think back to the days when my choices were almost nil, and in some ways I think my then-toddler sons had more options than I did. For many years, until my third son went off to college, it seemed that my choices were limited indeed.