11/11/2013 06:53 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

How I Found The Old Me After My Kids Went To College

They're coming home for Thanksgiving in search of homemade meals, a warm bed, and sleep. So I've been thinking... maybe I could leave town for awhile?

I love my two kids with all my heart. It's just that while they were away for a few months and going through roller coaster changes, I've been going through a few of my own. And they haven't a clue. Why should they? They're focused on becoming the adult version of themselves -- learning, growing, thinking more independently, becoming more independent. That's why they're in school. To them, I'm Mom, and I'm always here, in this house, being a mom.

But what if, while my sons have been away, I rediscovered some of the things I used to like to do, but haven't had time to do, until now? What if, while they've been away, I considered some new roles and new career paths?

What if I discovered that I enjoy having less responsibility? Does that make me a bad mother?

My house looks different, runs differently. I buy laundry detergent in the small size, cook meals that last for several days, eat breakfast sitting down -- and sometimes, that breakfast consists of one big cookie and a cup of hot tea.

My closets and drawers reflect the biggest change. The things inside them that sat on shelves for years-- that I looked at but never really noticed anymore -- suddenly became very noticeable. The kids' grade-school projects, papers, study-guides, pencils, markers, notebooks, etc. I finally sorted through them.The old student directories, the PTA cards, I tossed them out. Well, most of them. I saved a few, for memories' sake. I even went through my sock drawer and got rid of the ugly, worn ones. The old me would have just moved the socks to the laundry room to use as dusters. But not this time. This time, I threw them away.

And the kitchen drawer with all the tiny and not-so-tiny items inside that had no relation to each other but that I had saved just in case? It's no longer. And now I'm wondering how many plates two people really need, and what else I can part with that I once thought that I could never part with.

The exercise machine that was gathering dust has gone to a family with three boys. I've reclaimed as my own the space it once occupied. My camera, once my favorite means of expressing myself, is back in business. Over the years, it had become more of a tool to document life, and had lost its luster.

As for schedules, well, I don't know what homework or paper is due, or when. There are no books to run out and buy at 9 pm for a class the next day, or poster board, or glue-sticks. The list of to-do's has gone from spiral-notebook size to little-sticky size.

I do still receive emails from the kids' old high school about volunteer opportunities. I'm not ready to delete myself from that list quite yet. It's all too new, this idea that they don't live here full-time anymore.

Last night my husband and I watched a movie about a French chef, and I remembered that I forgot to go to France. And Nova Scotia, and Alaska, and pretty much everywhere.

And now the kids are coming home, and I've missed them, and our family unit, and the way they call my name. But I've missed me, too. And I didn't realize how much until they went away and I emptied closets and drawers, making way for new memories, new things that I may toss in a few more years.

Today I pulled out the spiral-sized notebook and began to make lists.

So what if, when they come home, I'm a different mother? The same loving mom, but different perhaps in other ways? I know they'll be different young men. Will we still connect? Will we fall into old roles or ease our way into new ones?

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

10 Trips You NEED To Take In Your 50s