This whole empty nesting thing is for the birds. Seriously, you can have it. I’m too young and too tied to my identity as a Mom to embrace it. At the time of writing this, it’s been less than 48 hours and yet I woke up this morning feeling like I’m missing a limb. Andy isn’t living here anymore and I can feel the emptiness pulsing out of the basement. And I don’t like it one bit.
Move-in weekend went smoothly–too smoothly. Friday night, Andy about made my summer by texting me, asking if we could all have a movie night that night. Um, that would be a yes! He picked out the movies (they were rough. Andy enjoys deep, intense movies. We watched 12 Years A Slave. Amazing. Heart-wrenching. Violent. Rough.) But I was happy because my boy wanted to hang out with us on his last night home.
Saturday morning we woke up and started packing. By noon, Dale’s truck was loaded up and Drake was waiting in the front seat to take his Andy to college. Drake was pretty sure something was going on and he probably needed to be ready too . . .poor Drake.
Andy was able to get a parking permit on campus (limited for freshmen), so we caravanned down to Maple Grove. We stopped at Whole Foods for lunch and Trader Joes for a few healthy snacks for his dorm room. We then continued on to campus in St. Paul. It’s a small campus without a lot of room for cars to traverse in and out, so they were highly organized and controlled. A little too controlled, as I was about to find out. We waited in line with the truck while Andy parked his car elsewhere. By the time we were directed to park in front of Andy’s dorm, Andy was there and a few of Dale’s nephews (who attend college nearby), had showed up to help us. Bonus! Andy’s on the 6th floor of an old dorm building, so extra hands made a huge difference! It only took two loads to get everything up to his dorm and then . . . wait, what? We have to move the truck? A mile away and walk back (if he wants us to) . . .or we can say goodbye now. Wait, what? No, see . . . this is a huge deal and we haven’t even been on campus for 45 minutes.
It only made sense to say goodbye then because I could tell Andy wanted to take time to acclimate and things had gone smoothly and I didn’t want to overstay my welcome. But, but, but . . . we were only on campus for 45 minutes. That can’t be right, can it? This was supposed to take hours and, and, and . . . I wasn’t ready. I just wasn’t ready. During the brief and tearful (on my part) goodbye I reminded him to eat and play nice with others and make good choices and lock his door and don’t lose his keys and text me with fun facts and don’t drink and don’t do drugs and I love you and I’m so proud of you and remember, “You are the man God designed you to be,” and, “I’ll call you probably every day this week, okay?” I received a “Okay Mom, love you too.” in response. He’s a good kid, letting me hug him for way too long while I cried on his shoulder in the middle of move-in day with hundreds of his soon-to-be-new-friends milling around. And then, the next thing I knew Dale was driving us off campus in the truck. Too fast, too fast, too fast. It went way too fast. Move-in day was a split second in time, just like the last 19 years. Too. Fast. I sobbed for a good 10-15 minutes down I-94. I have since randomly broken into sobs several times, usually in the middle of talking about something else or once out of the blue while watching a movie about financial espionage. Fun times.
Dale is an amazing husband. He’s technically an empty nester now also–he was only a non-empty nester for nine months but now he’s part of this lame club too. I can tell he’s sad, but mostly worried about me. He knew I needed to laugh and be distracted–so when we left campus, we picked up my sister, Tonya, and went to the State Fair to people watch, eat cheese curds, happen upon a talent contest at Leinie Lodge, and generally forget that I had suddenly become an “empty nester.” It was the perfect distraction. Yesterday was had an awesome church service and we prayed for Andy a lot. Today we started Jillian Michael’s 30-day Shred. That’s not necessarily a fun distraction, but it’s awesome that we’re doing it together. In our empty basement. Which is empty because Andy is gone. Tears.
I woke up this morning mad about the term “empty nest.” I’m mad because I miss Andy and I’m mad because Dale and I are trying to have a baby and there’s still nothing happening there. And I’m mad because I’m 38 and feel like I’m too young to be an empty nester and too old to (hopefully soon) be a new mom. What a WEIRD time of life!
Breathe. Pray. Focus.
I am spending time today reflecting on who God designed me to be and what God wants me to accomplish in this next phase of my life. What is HIS purpose for me? What is my identity in him? And I’m positive that he did not design me to be a bird crying about her empty nest. What are the blessings in this time? There are so many! For Andy! For me! For my marriage! That’s where I’m focusing today. Because, when I focus on that stupid empty nest, I feel as fragile as a bird.