Mourning My Next Phase of Parenting

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Can you stand one more piece about parents mourning a child leaving home?  If you have not yet been through it, you probably are especially sick of hearing other people cry about it.  There are plenty of bloggers who write about parenting and can probably express this transition more eloquently than a lowly music blogger does, but bear with me.  Many of my posts have to do only with music and nothing about parenting, but this will be the first that has nothing to do with music.

I am entering the third phase of parenting- out of I'm not sure how many:

1. Kids are babies and toddlers
2. Kids go to school
3. Kids leave home

You don't have to be a mathematician to realize that phase #2 is quite lengthy, and it starts to really be all you know.  Your weekends are filled with the kids' activities, you no longer have any friends who are not the parents of your kids' friends and any free time is consumed with some sort of volunteer activities relating to school.  Feelings of accomplishment are tied to what your kids are accomplishing.  Therefore, the advent of phase #3 comes as quite a shock.

My oldest daughter is graduating from high school next weekend.  She is going to a college that we love and she could not be more excited about this new phase of her life, so why am I not more excited, too? 

Part of my trepidation has to do with the fact that I will genuinely miss her, even as I ignore the restrictions she is already putting on our communication once she leaves home (obviously assuming she will not miss us as much as we miss her).  When she was a baby, she suffered (as did her father and I) from colic.  Although the doctor reassured us the condition had no bearing on what she would be like when she got older, I'm not so sure.  Even though she had three younger siblings, I have always said that the mood of the house has been dependent on my oldest daughter's mood.  When she's gone, will our house just have no mood whatsoever?

The other aspect of my apprehension is probably what's known as Empty Nest Syndrome.  Do parents really have identities beyond their kids?  I've always worked fulltime and, particularly during the past few years, have tried to have something outside of work and kids that isn't related to either; hence, my landscape design class at the community college and running the marathon two years ago.  But, truth be told, our lawn still looks pretty much the same, and I have no desire to do another marathon.  I was actually even sort of bored today (Memorial Day)- and I even worked for a couple hours, so what will I do when the kids are gone?  Will I just write more and more blog posts about how sad it is with the kids gone?

These are rhetorical questions and I'm sure it's all just the normal passing of life, but to me it's one of only a few really tangible transition periods as parents.  What could be more abrupt than literally not having your kids in the house anymore, not guiding and directing them on a daily basis, not knowing where they are, who they're hanging out with and when they'll be home? 

It was somewhat a time of rejoicing when the kids went to school and weren't hanging around the house anymore demanding that their diapers be changed.  Over time, they became more and more independent, eventually driving and making their own plans, even becoming more like contemporaries than children.  It's possible by the end of the summer when I've heard for the hundredth time "In [insert number of days left in summer] days I'll be able to do what I want anyway" I'll feel a little more ready for this transition.  In the meantime, I'm trying to put on my happy face and try to act excited about our ninth trip to Target to do College Shopping (a seemingly endless list). 

Enjoy your kids, whatever their age or your phase of parenting!

Filed under: Parenting

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  • I have two kids who left. Here's a song I wrote from one father to another:
    http://www.reverbnation.com/artist/song_details/8789669

    Cheers,

    /gerry
    www.gerrysegal.com

  • In reply to gerrysegal:

    Gerry, I love it! Thanks for sharing!

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