The heart-shaped bowl may mislead you to think this blog is about being single, it’s not. It is about the other forever love that we hold close to us; love for our children. Society defines that period of time, for parents, when your children mature and begin to leave their childhood home as “empty nest” syndrome. I can think of many adjectives or definitions to give it that would more accurately describe the emotions and adjustments that arise from this one simple act of growing up.
My “letting go” period began with a drive to U of O campus, lugging stuff up two flights of stairs and helping my daughter settle into her dormitory. Her new roommate and parents were also crammed into the small dorm room. So as I started to leave, I hugged my daughter and walked out the door into the hallway where no one else in the room could see me but my daughter. Not wanting to embarrass her, I turned around and mouthed the words silently, “I love you.” She laughed out loud and said very loudly, “I love you too Mom.” I beamed all the way down the stairs and then I cried.
That was in 2007 and since then she has moved farther away to Southern Oregon State, back home to live with me, out on her own and is married now. My son, 8 years her junior is turning 18 years old this week. He reminds me of this daily. I believe his independence increases by the minute. I can see it expanding in all directions. Of course he still needs me I tell myself. I still cook for him, clean up after him and check in with him when I am out late.
We went through a period a couple of years ago when this growing and stretching our relationship boundaries began to frighten me. As the last child in the “nest”, I held on tighter and resisted change with an iron fist. As a result he pushed harder against my boundaries and rebelled against my need to hold onto the little boy.
My bending moment came when I asked myself; When did he get to be this way? Oh…wait, I raised him this way!!! I taught him to be an independent thinker, question everyone and everything, make his own choices, not based on other people’s opinions, suggestions or examples. Whoops. My bad. Or good.
Our job as parents is to teach our children to be independent contributors to our world, to make choices and understand the consequences that come as a result. When we have completed that job, our children, equipped with that knowledge have to go out and test it and learn new knowledge on their own.
So flash to me making soup. It seems that making food is the last thing to change and adapt to being less full, less more. I intend to start small and end up making a big pot of soup. More soup than I want to eat in a week. Soup that I could freeze for later but know that after a week of eating it, I will not want it again until a year from now, at which time the soup will not be any good.
I may never be able to make soup for one. I continue to aim for it. I may just adjust my soup making days to coincide with visits from my kids or friends. I know one thing is certain, my kids will one day face the same challenge of making soup for one. And so it goes around…