Both of my young adult children were home all summer. I loved walking into the house and hearing conversations. Laughter. And the feeling of having a “full” house. Even though both Max and Tory are on the move between jobs, friends and short vacations, the “full” house feeling remained…I always knew that they’d land home again in the not-too-distant future. My heart was full. I loved cooking dinners and having the four of us sit down to eat together. I loved our conversations, full of hopes, dreams and plans for the future.
And now it’s September, a time of change. Once again.
My daughter Tory packed and left over the Labor Day weekend to begin her second year at Rutgers University. It’s another milestone year for her: She moved into an apartment in downtown New Brunswick that is essentially off-campus housing (it’s so far from everything Rutgers) with three new roommates; she’s balancing the important jobs of studying and learning with cooking and cleaning. As well as her part-time job, numerous extra curricular activities and her very important social life. My girl doesn’t waste a minute of her life: she goes at it with an intensity that sometimes takes my breath away!
And my son Max? Well, he gently broke the news to us that he’s moving out. To start life on his own in a house with three other like-minded young men. He’s excited; I haven’t seen a smile on his face like the one he’s been sporting for quite a while. He’s been working hard toward his big move: He painted his new bedroom — 3 coats on the ceiling and 3 on the walls. He ordered a futon, a wall mount for his TV, a ceiling fan, picked out drapes and hung them. He’s sorting through things here at home, discarding the old and making room for his new life.
Max and Tory are thoughtful, interesting people who have dreams and plans, and they are working toward making them come true. I am so proud of them.
On the other hand, though, I’m not very proud of myself. Being a parent was all consuming, all encompassing, 24/7 for me. And now? I have many free hours in my days that I want to fill with something just as meaningful. But what can be as meaningful, as important as raising my kids?
My brain gives me all sorts of practical advice about what I can and should do (trot out the typical “volunteer,” “join a club.” get a full-time job,” blah, blah, blah), but my heart? She refuses to listen. I don’t want to volunteer. I don’t want to join a club. I don’t want to do that stuff. I did it all while raising my kids (and still do some). And it was fine as filler, but not as my life’s work.
I’ve always been a planner, a doer, a don’t-sit-still-if-you-can-work kind of person. It creeps me out that I am at a standstill. That I have no plan. I think I need to do something I’ve never done before: I think I might need to sit down. And be quiet. Maybe for days or weeks (which makes me crazy to even think about it). And maybe, just maybe I can visualize my next step.
Have you been where I am now? What did you do to jump start your next phase?