Thursday, April 26, 2018

after the empty nest

As a parent, and especially in the decade or so in which I was, without design or expectation, my sons' primary parent, my main goal has been to raise (and to become) happy, healthy whole people living lives of choice. I've never actually articulated it as such, but from where I sit now I can see that's been the hope, dream, work, intention - for my sons as well as for me. I've never been attached to how they make their way in the world or who they love, just that they be happy, healthy and whole and that they have the confidence and tools to create life (we're all a work in progress) rather than letting life happen to them. 

DS28, as DS7 (?) - when tree climbing was free and easy
Yesterday, as I mowed the lawn using a mower that DS28 got to run two weeks ago - the only mower I've ever started on the first pull, thanks to his work - I realised, something has shifted. I've been an intermittent empty-nester for 8 years now, with one or the other son moving back in as they needed. I've worried and fussed and offered unsolicited advice. And sometime in the last year, that stopped.

Oh, I still worry and fuss, but it is so clear that they no longer want or need my unsolicited advice. They are healthy, functioning adults, and even more than empty nesting this shift brings me both deep contentment and a confusing sense of loss. Having identified so deeply and so long as a mom first, I now have to reimagine what "mom" means for these men.
DS26, as DS1, exploring in the kitchen

Don't get me wrong - I'm sure my sons need me in some way. I'm just not sure what that looks like. Sunday dinner and board games are wonderful. Trading chores (I sewed his pants while DS28 worked on the mower and the yard) is nice. But anyone can do those things. What is the mom role for independent men making their way in the world, especially as/when they have partners to walk alongside them? 

If they should choose to become parents themselves in the future that will be another shift; for now, perhaps it's enough to watch from the sidelines for a while. To speak when spoken to. And to be a quieter version of head cheerleader, knowing they'll let me know if they need me. 

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