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My Last Kid Goes to College Next Year…I’m Not Ready

Busy moms with young children do not even have the time of day to think about what life will be like when their kids are graduating from high school and heading off into the world of higher education. After my youngest son was born seven years after his next oldest brother, I knew the big age difference between siblings would add years to that thing called “empty nest” that I had vaguely heard other (ahem, older) moms mention in passing.

When my last baby was born, his brothers were seven and ten and I had oodles of parenting yet to do and my nest was quite full, thank you very much.

Jump forward to nearly 18 years later when I am mere months away from being one of those (wise?) moms that I somehow thought I would never become. My baby (who will never read this so please don’t tell him I called him my baby) has been accepted into his dream school and his dream is slowly becoming my nightmare.

I have been staunchly avoiding declaring all of the “lasts” as his senior year in high school sails by at a pace so fast that I can hardly keep up. One would think that his busy schedule would prepare me for the day when I can only wonder what he is doing, instead of waiting for him to get home after each activity so he could tell me all about it. Hold up. The days of his endless chatter about his activities have been gone for years. Well, at least I currently get some comfort knowing that there is a warm body behind that closed teenage bedroom door every night.

The cat will miss him and the dog will pine for him. My husband will assume that my life will be all about him (love you, honey). My girlfriends with younger children may be a tad bit jealous. I, on the other hand, will be in a strange place between motherhood and what? Certainly not grandmotherhood. Son #1 is happily married, but also enjoying his pre-nest time with his beautiful young wife. No pressure, kids.

I could throw myself into sending a care package a week and become the best college mom that has ever existed, but that idea tires me out just thinking about it.

No, I think I will just need to embrace all the “firsts”, such as when my baby (ssshhh…) moves out there will actually be leftovers available in the fridge and I won’t have to cook a new meal every night. After he goes, I may even find one (or two!) of my favorite protein bars left in the snack drawer. Once my youngest heads to college, my husband and I won’t have to plan our vacations around the traditional school calendar. Hello, reduced rates!

This thing called the empty nest might not be so bad after all, once I get used to it. I can’t promise to not send “I love you” and “I’m thinking about you” texts to this baby of mine, but that just means that he has joined his two older brothers in a world where moms aren’t a day to day presence, but rather a warm thought ready to spring into action when needed.

I will always be there for my kids, maybe even on a warm beach in the middle of September sipping a fruity adult beverage with the obligatory little umbrella sticking out of it. My last baby will have flown the nest and I am certain that I survived. Cheers!

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