warning: sharp curve ahead

photo of empty nest in a tree
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons. Photographer: katieb50

Any of you who have stuck around through the past few years of VERY sporadic postings know that my life has been a crazy mish-mash of full-time work, side jobs of freelance editing, dogged pursual of a bachelor’s degree in English, and the all-consuming and most important job of being a mother, wife, and pet mommy to wayyyy too many critters.  Care for some chaos, anyone?!

But within the course of a few short weeks, these separate paths (some smooth, some rocky, some so insanely steep that the summit never seemed attainable) have converged into a more measured, leisurely trail.

Just over two weeks ago I FINALLY graduated with my B.S. in English (with an emphasis on Technical and Professional Writing) and a minor in American Studies. In the (almost) 30 years since I graduated from high school, I have taken at least one class for NINETEEN of those years. Part of me wants to shake myself for taking so long to get done (especially for not buckling down and finishing when I was younger), and the other part wants to go back in time and high-five my 18-year-old self for sticking with it. If nothing else, I have proved that I am determined! Or crazy… Either way, at long last I am DONE.

Skipping down this new, sun-drenched path, green grass sparkling with morning dew, a shadow suddenly looms from a giant tree that has arisen like a goliath in my way, spindly arms reaching out to snag a shirt, or lurch back to slap me in the face. I gingerly approach… Above, a forlorn nest stares down at me, a tiny delicate feather all that is left of its earlier occupants. 

Yesterday, my baby girl, the years-younger child who it felt like would always stay little and by my side, turned 18. I truly don’t know how this can be, because honestly–I swear I was just that age yesterday! How did my BABY get here so quickly? The past few weeks have been filled with senior pictures, sending announcements, hours of graduation dress shopping (alas, to no avail as we still haven’t found “the one”), birthday dinners and gifts, all leading up to next week and her graduation from high school.

I didn’t think it was going to hit me so hard… After all, she’s the fourth in line for this rite of passage, after 3 older brothers. But they were all so much older than she was. My brain pulled that trick where they were allowed to age and move forward, but only because I KNEW that she would be around to keep me company forever! She promised me this… So what if she was only 4?!

While her future plans are not set in stone, they do include moving out of the house and a little further afield than I’d prefer.  I know, I know… This is a sign of the good parenting that we’ve given her (and her 3 brothers before her): strong wings that know how–and are eager–to fly. There will be no pushing coming from inside this nest! But it’s amazing how hard this one is…

I know my honey and I will be fine. We’ve already been getting to spend more alone time together the past few years as she’s been busy with work, or friends, or school, so there’s none of those worries about if we still love–let alone like–each other. Ours was a Brady Bunch family from the get-go, so this will truly be the first time that we have to spend, just the two of us, and it’s been exciting to see how much fun we still have together, even after all the years.

It’s just… I don’t know.

With all of these major life changes within such a short timeframe, I’m feeling a little adrift. I know I’ll get through them, and I’m truly excited to see what the future brings–for all of us… eager (anxious?) to see which paths will open up, branch off, take us to unseen valleys and heights that we can only imagine.

But right now, this night, this week, this month… I’m cherishing all the moments that we still have together, as we walk slowly towards the tree. Getting closer, I can see that it doesn’t completely block the way, it just splits into different trails, sometimes room to walk side-by-side, and sometimes only wide enough for one, sometimes far apart, and other times running parallel to each other again.  I guess I’d better get my good walking shoes on…


(p.s. Please excuse the double photo above. WordPress and I are having a little spat about how things should be done around here. So far, it’s winning… 😦  )

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