Last week in Boulder, Colorado where I live, the heat wave broke. We had torrential rain, which is totally uncharacteristic of our desert-like climate, and vastly cooler temperatures when the sky cleared. For the most part, in a place where air conditioners are either non-existent or politically incorrect and swamp coolers rule, you'd think that relief would be the expected response. And truth be told, there was some of that. But lying just below the surface was the undeniable fact that Fall is upon us.
Now, if you've ever been to Boulder when the Aspens turn brilliant gold and the maples show off their amazing orange and magenta hues, you would think that Fall would inspire nothing less than ecstasy. But for me, despite my awe of Nature in action, Fall means fall, which my thesaurus defines as plunge, descend, plummet. Yup, that's me. And when I tell you why, I know that it's not only me; I'm in good company.
You see, although my children are grown- ages 28 and almost 23- I confess that I am still not happy that they have left the nest. Yes, please don't write unkind comments about the fact that children are supposed to grow up and leave home and be happy, functional adults, I know that. I also know I would be very concerned if that were not the case. But it is. Yet, I miss their being home with us. I confess. I long for the times when all three beds were filled. (My husband and I sleep in the same bed unless he snores.) My youngest is just about to graduate from college and I'm still not completely used to the idea that he doesn't live at home anymore. Call me a slow learner. I just don't like it.
But why now? Why has this resistance to change resurfaced in the last few days? It seems like every Fall I'm reminded of kids going off to school. I see little ones getting on the school bus for the first time. I can't help but notice young moms at the grocery store buying school supplies, juice boxes and brown paper lunch bags. I can't help but notice that I'm not. I have friends whose children are going off to college as freshman. I see the bittersweet looks on their faces. I think to myself, "You think that parenting was hard, wait until they're gone!" I recall not being able to remember who was crying harder in the car on the way to drop my daughter off at her orientation as a freshman. I tried to hide my tears but how do you mute Niagra Falls?
And lest you think that I am simply an over-the-top, enmeshed mother, I'll have you know that when I finally got the nerve to discuss this yearning with other women, I quickly learned that this back-to-school sadness may just be an epidemic. Apparently, there are more mourning moms than I imagined. The interesting thing is that my confidantes were a mixture of both stay-at-home moms and moms with busy, high-powered careers. It mattered not. We were all perfect messes. In the same way that no one can prepare you for what it's like to welcome a newborn into your life, no one can give you sense of the longing that often occurs when your not-so-little ones spread their wings. Although I remind myself that my children's leaving home is all part of life's normal transitions, letting go just isn't for sissies.