Tomorrow begins a new chapter.
By the end of the day, we will officially be considered “empty nesters,” a term I did not grow up hearing, nor properly educated about when we were expecting children.
The first time I was introduced to this concept was on a morning walk with my then twin babies, in their side by side stroller. We were walking along our usual daily East Cliff walk when a complete stranger blurted out: “only 18 more years!”
I was not disturbed by the random baby-related comment by that point: being pregnant with twins gave me plenty of verbal and non verbal random interactions, sometimes pleasant, sometimes not.
But the “only 18 more years” comment caught me off guard because of the time limitation of it. Growing up in a culture where being 18 does not mean anything more than the number, I had to share the comment with my husband when we got home.
That’s when the kids go off to college, he decoded the comment for me.
And that’s when they are considered “adults,” which somehow means that we won’t be responsible for them anymore.
I still didn’t understand, but felt somewhat better that the comment did not come out of thin air.
So here we are… 18 years after that stranger catching me off guard.
If I could talk to him now, I’d ask him:
“Am I supposed to feel good now that they’re 18 and heading off to college?”
“Am I emancipated from my responsibilities?”
If he were here for me to talk to, I’d tell him that no, I don’t feel good…yet.
And no, I don’t want to release my “responsibilities” from being a mother to two amazing humans.
I’d tell him that the past 18 years were the most fulfilling, fantastic and fun chapter of my life.
I’d tell him how proud we are of our 18 year olds.
I’d tell him that this next chapter seems more daunting at the moment than when he saw me with the babies.
This moment, I live with questions like:
- What’s my purpose moving forward?
- How do I navigate as a mother to “adults”?
- Who am I now?
I’d also tell him that, just the way I was up for whatever the next 18 years was going to bring me back then, I am up for whatever these next 18 years will bring me now, even if I don’t have any answers yet.
The difference this time is I know that I get to create the next chapter.
How can it be even better than the last?
The story begins now.
Let’s write it, create it and most importantly, live it!