And the beat goes on . . .
A friend sent me a message about how to make the transition from mom to mom of grown-up kids. She's a fellow homeschooler and I think maybe we homeschoolers feel the loss in weird ways. (Though, when I talk to my friends who have kids who went to traditional school and are now in college, on their own, or getting ready to leave they seem to be reacting the same way.) The biggest difference is that my friends of traditional school kids have not spent their adult lives scanning every landscape for a field trip. I've got three adults and one left at home. (Actually, one adult is living home and going to UCF. He's doing well but he's living here and that is a whole different post.) Andy will be taking four classes at the local community college come January and we'll finish up Pre-Calc and some reading here. Pre-Calc is with an online tutor. Reading? We talk about books all the time here so that's not work. Talk about having NOTHING to do. It's such a weird feeling from being constantly bombarded with things to get done and people to take care of to one easy kid and Mike. We're still making this transition.
The best I can manage for now is a list of things I wish I had started/done/considered when the kids were younger. But, the list was/is wishful thinking for me given Mike's schedule and all the car juggling. If you're not facing these constraints, you will not regret taking steps now to ward of the weird, detached feeling you'll have when the kids actually move out.
- Cut yourself some slack. It's okay to just hang out and read. You've been dying to do that for years and years. Do it. Use the good couch/chair and the fluffy blanket you've been hiding from the kids.
- Rearrange things. Most homeschoolers (myself included) arrange their houses around all the supplies and space needed. Well, it's mostly over. Reclaim spaces in your house! Pass on no longer used or loved books. Clear it out. Decluttering takes time but is incredibly rejuvenating.
- Paint. I know, you expect me to say that because I'm always painting something. But, while you declutter and move the house around think about paint. There is not a cheaper way to transform a room and change your mood.
- Learn to say "No." Say "No." to your adult-ish kids, the remaining teenager, your husband and even friends. The way I figure is you have a brief window where it can be all you - well, mostly you.
- Let your adult kids make mistakes, miss deadlines, etc. Do not waste this time scrambling to dig them out of self-imposed crises.
- If you still have kids at home, trust that they have learned (from their siblings) what makes you insane. I'm not saying to ignore them but, they (usually) will need far less "hands-on" time than their older brothers/sisters. Give them some freedom and some credit that you, perhaps, did not afford the older kids.
- If you've been home 15+ years, go ahead now and sign up for a yoga class or pottery lessons. Don't worry about dinner for whoever is at home. Let them work it out. If the thought of this stresses you out, make a list to keep on the fridge of what is in the freezer. Honestly, though, just go to yoga, stop for whatever YOU want for dinner and know that those who are home will figure it out.
- Go figure. The fewer kids at home you have, the less you will want to punch your husband/partner in the face. Yes, that sounds extreme but, at least for me, this is the case. I think many of us fall in a rut and yes, you're married but, the kids take over EVERY single thing. You don't mean for it to happen but, it happens.
- Go ahead and get dinner on the spur of the moment. In a restaurant.
- Give projects a try. Mike and I do not work well together (as in being in the same room working on the same task). But, if we each have a job with a common goal, we actually have fun (he cuts the crown molding, I paint it, we put it up together.)
- Give each other space. Kids leaving does not mean you have to cling to each other. Explore new interests independently. It's the first chance you've had in how many years?
I enjoy having grown up kids. Things that I used to worry about are no longer my problem. It's fun to spend time with them and see what they're doing. From a homeschooling perspective, the boys' college experiences have validated my efforts. They all got into school and they all excelled (are excelling). I didn't ruin them.
What happens when the last kid leaves? I'm not sure. I read an article the other day about this very thing. I love my boys. I suck at sending care packages or letters. They know this, I hope. They are starting their lives. Mike and I are "getting back" to ours.
So, yeah, no conclusion here. I'm sure I'll come back to it eventually.