Some days you’re a puddle of memories, your heart is a tender fabric worn threadbare by time. I am missing my daughter. I am missing her childhood that had passed by too quickly. I am supposed to walk around finding a new purpose in life, which isn’t raising children, worrying about their homework to nutrition to their sleep patterns. It’s not like I didn’t know children would grow up and leave the house. It’s not like I hadn’t been waiting for her to leave me the minute she was born. Knowing and feeling are different things in my world. Stop the sentimental crap, my mind would say but my ache is palpable. My heart a silly old organ of sappy longings. Now I look at my son who will leave the nest in two years and I fear the day when no child will live in my house, which is meant to be filled with the sound of their voices. I am a silly old fool. I look at strangers and their children and I want to tell them, Hey, be mindful of time. Don’t fret about their whining and tantrums. Those too will be gone before you know it.
This post is such a pointless post. My daughter is across the country, enjoying her first two weeks of college and (hopefully) thriving. I just watched her dance video (she joined a dance team) for the tenth time. Texts are sparse and phone stays silent these days. We look forward to the scant minutes of Sunday Skype time which I made mandatory and which is the lowest priority in her college life. This is what it means to be a parent, to be a mother. You spend eighteen years of your life living for this other person so that they could leave you and be happy. You work hard for eighteen years so that they could leave you in a happy well-adjusted shape. If this were a job you have to apply for, this would be a terrible job.
So what’s the problem here? The problem is all selfish desires from this mother. I want to see my eighteen year old daughter walk into the house, car keys jingling in her hand. I want to see her ten year old version joking around and playing with her brother. I want to hear her five yer old voice yelling in the yard, “Mommy!” I want to listen to her sing, watch her swing her hips to hula hoop, her face red from the sun, sweat glistening on her young face, her little brother following her everywhere. Wasn’t it yesterday or a lifetime ago that my kids were in the house arguing over if the size of the ice cream in the bowls were equal?
Such a sentimental fool I am, always looking back, or forecasting the time when this house will no longer house any child. Already, this house has become too quiet with only one teenager. Life goes fast. One day, you couldn’t shut them up from crying or demanding your attention, even if you are in the bathroom. The next day, they are playing by themselves, reading books silently on their beds. Then comes the silent teen years where they are glued to their phones texting or watching videos. Sometimes, I cannot remember the feel of their hands around my waist, their little faces pressed against my belly. Carry me! my son used to demand this every night. Then one day, there are no hands on your body. No one comes to you to give you a hug or ask for juice or help with homework. One day, the house becomes so big, with no small beings running around making a mess. Only you and the shadows of your memories following you around. Only your ears keep listening for the footsteps and door slams.
Whoever says silence is golden was not a parent looking lost in an empty nest.