I finally get what it is like to feel like an empty nester. My youngest has joined his oldest brother in Toronto.
This of course limits our visits, and opportunities to share a meal, coffee, run into each other downtown, go for a hike, walk the dog, help each other with chores or any other kind of normal activity you can do when your kids live close by. He is with his darling and with his brother, and my own brothers who live there are delighted. They seem to take particular delight in phoning me to tell me about the very pleasant dining experience they have had with my sons.
This means I will only get to hug him during four visits a year; hopefully he comes home at Christmas, in the summer and I visit in the spring and fall. Getting used to that with his older brother took a long time and I am grateful for FaceTime and Skype so I can at least see them, but a mother wants to hold her children and it doesn’t matter how old or tall they are. Hugging your children is very important.
I have been very emotional about this and I am not certain if this is because now they are both so far away — with one of them close by it didn’t seem so lonely. Perhaps thrown into this mix with our recent move we reviewed a lot of boxes of early childhood treasures and photos of the lads, and as beautiful as that is it is also sad. Life is passing quickly.
My mother would say it is payback, since I left home at 18 and lived like a gypsy for many years: Invermere; Fort McMurray; Banff; Manhattan Beach, Calif.; Key West, Fla. Toronto was the closest to her and then of course I have lived in Vernon since 1989. My mom lived near London, Ont., but I was long gone from there. She used to ask me, “why do you have to live so far away?” It wasn’t that I didn’t want to live near my family, I just truly love the west. I only saw my mom once a year, occasionally twice, as she was older and had health issues. Now that I am a mom, I get it. We want to see our kids, not just hear their voices. To look them in the eye, examine them up close and personal to see if they are healthy, happy, what’s really going on.
I am very fortunate I have a great relationship with my sons and they are very patient with their mom and keep me up to date and involved with their lives. When your kids stay close by it is wonderful to enjoy the extended family relationship.
Their absence has me in a nesting mood; I am cooking more, re-organizing, cleaning, thinking of changes to the house or cottage. Nesting is an interesting process and I first thought of this as an important activity when I was pregnant with my oldest and we did up the nursery, organized baby clothes and supplies, kid-proofed the house.
This nesting bug has hit me at several times in my life and most of them involved planning for my kids. Now I plan for their visits and where they will sleep. Perhaps this recent move also reminds me that time is passing and there is still so much to do.
Our kids grow up so quickly and I appreciate now how being present for them and being a parent, not their friend, is so important so they are ready to be in the world. I will take more photos when we are together, phone and text so we stay connected.
I am very happy for them that they are pursuing their dreams and goals. It takes courage to take risks and I admire them both. Plus so glad that they get to live together again as adults, as friends as well as brothers, to support each other in their pursuits and to have fun together.
Parenting is the best lifetime commitment I have ever made.
Michele Blais has worked with children and families in the North Okanagan for the past 30 years. She is a longtime columnist with The Morning Star, appearing every other Sunday.