For the past 27 years, I’ve had at least one child at home. From infant care, toddler days, preschool adventures and after school activities, Mom’s taxi service has hauled kids from one event to the next and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. But 2010 will see my youngest child leave home to begin her college years, and I’m going to be left with an empty next. What am I supposed to do? How do you change a lifestyle you’ve had for 27 years?
I already miss the days I used to volunteer at school. I always made time to help out several days a month when my girls were in elementary school. I’ve helped with Girl Scouts, band, choir, dance, soccer and academic practice as well as multiple church activities. When the girls got too old to want me at school, I found other ways to volunteer to show them the joy of giving your time to help others.
At least my girls have left me a little at a time – this has helped my adjustment period somewhat, but it doesn’t take the pain away entirely. Marie was the first to leave and it nearly killed me when she moved out, but I realized I was going to have to let her go eventually. Two years later, Amber was gone and the pain was just as acute, but I knew I would survive.
For the past 8 years, Christine has been my only child at home and we have grown very close. She sometimes complains she feels like an only child because there is such a large age difference between her and her sisters. Of all my children, Christine and I are most alike. We both enjoy reading and many times we will spend an afternoon reading, even though we are reading separate books. Or we have been known to brain storm ideas for writing projects, bouncing ideas off one another to see what we think might work for a story. We both enjoy volunteer work and Christine has been a big help to mean with many of the tasks I’ve taken on.
Of course, Christine has inherited the “worry gene” from me; she worries about everything, just like I do. She is more concerned about keeping everyone else happy than she is doing things for herself. She is a true friend and someone you can count on when the times are hard. I really wish she wouldn’t worry so much – I want her to enjoy her happy teenage years while they’re here. But just like I know I can’t stop myself from worrying, I can’t keep her from worrying either.
Looking forward into 2010, there are many things I am actually looking forward to. First and foremost is the fact that I will be a grandmother for the first time. I am so excited and I can’t wait to hold this little bundle of joy in my arms. My middle daughter, Marie, is expected in June and we are all eagerly awaiting this newest addition to the family.
This will also be the first year I have sent a child to college. As much as I wanted Amber and Marie to attend college, they had no interest in continuing their education. Although this saddened me at first, I realized it was their life and they should have a choice in what they wanted to do. So, instead of seeking a college education, they both entered the work force and they seem content with this decision.
Christine, on the other hand, has been looking forward to college for many years. She plans to seek a degree in Art Administration and she also wants to study abroad, hopefully in Japan. At some point after graduation, she wants to join the Peace Corps before settling down with a career. This past fall was full of applying to colleges, filling out scholarship forms and researching all grant opportunities; I know this spring will be full of last minute preparations, but it will be a fun experience.
This year is also the year I plan to have a book published. I have been working on many things, but can’t seem to narrow my focus down to one thing, so I’m not exactly sure what the book will be. I do know it will be one of the following possibilities: a collection of my Mercer’s Magazine essays, a poetry collection, a book about Harrodsburg, or a young adult book I am almost finished with. Because I’m interested in so many areas, it is hard for me to work on any one project for a long period of time, so I catch myself working on each one for a short period of time. This may not be ideal for most writers, but it is the techniques that work for me.
I guess the most special thing I’m looking forward to is celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary and being able to spend more time with my hubby. Keith and I have been together for 24 years, but we’ve only been married for 20. Since we have been together, there have always been children in the house. Even though we had a wonderful week long honeymoon, we’ve never really had any time alone with children. And as much as I miss the kids being around all the time, I’m excited about the new status in our relationship.
Where did the time go? I don’t know, but I do know that the older I get, the faster time seems to speed by. You’ve got to reach out and grab a piece of life while it’s spinning by, because if you wait for things to happen for you, it may be too late. I hope everyone has a Happy New Year and enjoys the fruits of a new decade.