Two hours later, we arrived at home and walked into the house for the first time as official empty nesters. The silence was deafening.
The next week was a blur. I would cry going to work, cry on the way home and break down crying before going to bed. Although I know my job as a mother will never be complete, I felt like I had been fired from being in charge of her life. She was on her own. She would be making her own decisions. She would need me, but not as much as before.
My emotions were all over the place. I was sad, but I was thrilled she was starting a new journey in her life. I stalked her Twitter and Facebook to see what time she was posting. Was she staying out late? Was she doing her homework? Was she making smart decisions? Was she making friends? Was she lonely? Did she miss me?
I quickly realized she was having the time of her life and was happy.
Since I was 17, I've been a mom. In less than a month, I will be 43 and for the first time in 26 years, I don't have a child to take care of at home.
For those 26 years, I've considered myself Jeff's wife and Chase and Madie's mom. Somewhere along the way, I forgot all about me and put my dreams and plans on the back burner. I loved having kids in the house. The activities, the recitals, games, skinned knees, broken bones, broken hearts, homework folders, reading books, helping study for tests and whole laundry list of things moms just do. I began to wonder if I was really good at anything other than being a mom.
The past seven weeks, I've been focusing on my relationship with my husband. For the first time in all those years, it is just the two of us. We didn't always do a good job of making time for one another when our kids were younger. We made everything about them and you could tell we had a lot of catching up to do.
Earlier in the week, I pulled out an old journal I wrote in several years ago. As I began reading some of the entries, I found a list of things I wanted to accomplish "one day." You know that magical phrase that we use to make us feel better about putting something off until tomorrow. I'll get around to it "one day." There were eight things on the list and "one day" had yet to come for every single one of them.
It wasn't because the opportunity was never there. It was because I put things off to be a mom. I put things off to be a wife. I put things off to be an employee. I put things off because they required time and let's be real, I didn't really have a whole lot of time. Who has time to do anything when you are raising kids? The stark reality is...we all do. We make time for the things we want to do and put off those things that are not crucial to living our everyday life.
My daughter started a new chapter in her life, which makes it the perfect time for me to do the same. I just have to take that first step. Before long, those "one days" I have will turn into "no days."