THIS WAS OUR WEEKEND:
Saturday my husband and I helped our eldest daughter and her fiance move her belongings from south Minneapolis to the other twin city and the rental house they will share after their upcoming marriage.
On Sunday we drove an hour southeast to pick up the first van load of our son’s possessions, to move back home to Faribault. In about a week, he flies out to Boston to start classes at Tuft’s University after a summer of working at IBM in Rochester and a year at North Dakota State University in Fargo.
It’s a bittersweet time for us, the parents.
We are delighted that our daughter has found the love of her life. Yet, if I’m honest, there’s also a certain sadness in the realization that the 27 ½ years since her birth have passed, snap, just like that.
Likewise, the 19 ½ years since our son’s birth have passed, snap, just like that. Now he is flying 1,400 miles away to pursue his education, his dreams.
The other daughter lives 5 ½ hours away in northeastern Wisconsin. Nearly three years have passed, snap, just like that, since she finished college, completed an internship in Argentina and moved to Wisconsin for her job as a Spanish medical interpreter.
I suppose all empty nesters go through this phase, this wondering of how the years vanished, how we’ve grown in to the elders with gray hairs and lines creasing our foreheads. It is a time of adjustment and change for our entire family.
There are times when I wish I could swoop my trio in, bring them all back, keep them close, turn the clock back.
A dear friend, who is the mother of four ranging in age from almost three to 14, asked how I did it, how I let go. I advised her to start when the kids are young, allowing them little by little to spread their wings. Sunday School and church camp. Nights out with my husband, leaving the kids in the care of a capable babysitter. Annual overnight get-aways for the kids with doting aunts and uncles. Then later, mission trips to Texas and to national church youth gatherings. Volunteer trips to help with hurricane relief. Trips overseas during high school (for one) and in college.
I specifically recall my eldest’s announcement only weeks in to her freshman year at Winona State University that she was joining a spring break mission trip to Paraguay. “Where’s that?” I asked.
I won’t lie. It was not always easy to see my three venture across the U.S. and abroad. It wasn’t even easy when I sent my eldest, as a kindergartner, to church camp a half hour drive away. It isn’t easy now putting my youngest on a plane to Boston. Yet with each letting go, I learned that I could entrust my children to the care of others, that they needed to achieve independence, to experience new things, to grow—away from me and their dad.
© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling