Packing the Last Lunch

After 15 years, I just packed my last “brown bag” lunch. My youngest daughter is graduating high school next week and I’m happy. REALLY happy! Not just because I packed my last lunch, but because my days of full-time parenting are coming to an end.

This August, when she heads off to college, I will become an empty nester and that’s why I’m so happy. Does that sound weird? Awful? Despicable?

Okay, maybe I’m abnormal. Maybe I should hang my head in shame and beg forgiveness from all the parents in the world who will, like me, soon become empty nesters but are dreading the very day that I am welcoming with joy.

I won’t though…beg forgiveness, that is.

For those of you who are about to embark with me on this new journey of child-free daily living and like me are CELEBRATING, I’d like to give each of you a virtual hug. On Facebook I could type <3 and you’d get the picture (a small, perfect heart would appear in my post). But since we’re not in-person or on Facebook, just visualize me throwing my arms around you and giving you a celebratory and congratulatory hug.

YOUR CHILDREN ARE NOW ADULTS. You should be happy and proud of what you’ve accomplished – now push them out of the nest!

Yeah, that’s right. For most purposes, the age of majority in the U.S. is 18 when kids become legally responsible for themselves. LOL! (Okay, you can stop laughing now.) They are adults! Grown-ups. And now, even if you’re the one paying the college bills, you have to get permission from your kids in order to see their college grades, unless they are still claimed on your tax return. (What, you didn’t know that?)

And we all know they’re not gone for good – that’s okay. Coming home for holidays and summer breaks is fine and I look forward to their visits. It’s nice to see them – occasionally.

Webster’s definition of grown-up is: “having reached maturity”. Notice that it does NOT qualify the word “maturity”. Are we talking about physical, mental, spiritual or emotional maturity?

I tend to think if they can’t remember to fill the gas tank, open their mail or don’t know what a clothes hanger is for…well…what hope do we have that they can handle the REALLY IMPORTANT aspects of being grown-up?

I digress. HAPPY. I said I was happy, REALLY HAPPY. Okay, DELIRIOUSLY HAPPY, because I am soon-to-be an empty nester.

Please, please don’t misunderstand me. I love my kids. They’re exceptional human beings and I’m very proud of them. And I agree that the years flew by. But honestly, now I am ready for some ME time. I am looking forward to inventing the rest of my life, to fulfilling more of my dreams, to chipping away at my own bucket list. And I’m ready to think about my wants and needs first, which will be a welcome change.

I assure you I have not lost my head…or my heart. I will continue to be here, there and everywhere for my children when they need me, want me, or just plain old take me for granted. But, I am soooo looking forward to getting out there and exploring new frontiers footloose and child-free. Care to join me?

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