I find myself in a strange and confusing place tonight.
This is the tail end of my first true “empty nest summer”. I have been home for the past eight weeks because I am a teacher, but unlike the previous 19 summers, I have not had any children here with me. I haven’t had the usual trips to the zoo, the beach, the mountains. There was no family vacation.
It’s been a summer of learning how to be by myself, of learning to fill each day with gardening, dog walking, reading, writing and thinking. And some good Netflix films. It was hard, and I didn’t love it, but I got through the eight long weeks in reasonably good shape.
Of course, Paul and I made sure to schedule a lot of fun this summer. And I made plans with a lot of old and new friends, so that the days of sitting at home on the couch were relatively rare.
Still, it was hard to be here all day knowing that no one would ask for a snack, or a ride or a bandaid or a hug. This was my summer of learning how to live as a “post Mommy Mother”. This was my summer of waking up and NOT listening for sleeping children. This was my summer to grow up and get over it.
And all of this brings me to today.
Paul and our boys are off on a three day hike. Tim slept here the night before they left, so that he could help Paul to pack. Which means that I woke up on Sunday morning knowing that he was in the room next door. My heart was full as I sipped my coffee, waiting for him to wake up and join me. It was a little bit of “the old days” and I loved it. A lot.
On Sunday morning, the men headed off on their adventure, and Kate and I went to a Christening for a sweet new baby. We had a wonderful day with friends, and shared a lot of laughs and jokes as I showed her my “NonniWannabe” self, dying to have a grandchild of my own.
And on Sunday night, last night, she slept here at our house. Once again, I woke up knowing that one of my children was breathing in the room next to mine. Once again, I had the pleasure of having breakfast with one of my own.
Today both Kate and I spent hours in our classrooms, getting ready for the rapidly approaching new school year. I put in a whole lot of hours moving furniture, unpacking boxes, stocking shelves and cabinets. My back and shoulders are so sore now that I can barely type. OUCH, in a big way. Just OUCH.
And I am now at home, on my couch, feet up and ibuprofin dissolving in my bloodstream.
And there is no other human here with me. The boys and Paul are still on their hike, and Kate has gone back to her own place.
No one needs me to cook. No one needs me to nurture or comfort or chat or listen or hug.
And it is pure bliss.
I can sit back, enjoy my ice pack, and just indulge my own aches and pains.
The nest is really, really empty. And I am really, really glad.