I recently moved my middle daughter to New York to begin college at NYU. The week before that I helped my oldest move into her new apartment in Los Angeles for her second year at USC. I am down to one daughter in our nest. She’s ours for another five years, but the dynamic in our house has shifted. A new normal that is both hard-earned and unsettling. Difficult to reconcile those feelings.
The first one to fly was an invited milestone. The excitement of the unknown of her next chapter and the distraction of having my second applying to college on her heels kept me from feeling the void.
Now that the second one has left, I am finally feeling the loss of both at the same time. Double whammy! A counselor once told me that denial is a darn good coping mechanism, so for most of August I simply focused on mastering the art of “big city” move-ins, underbed storage, Command Strips, University websites, and which parent events to attend and which to bag for a yummy dinner at Sugarfish or Elios. Side bar: I lucked out on the locations of my girls’ colleges.
Classes started today at NYU for the middle child. The USC friends who came to Dallas for the big football game over the weekend have all gone back to sunny and 75 degrees. My youngest won her annual Labor Day soccer tournament (again). Denial worked for August, but I have never been good at swimming in the lane of denial for long distances. Katie Ledecky I am not. September needed to bring acceptance. I needed to close loops and open some windows.
Labor Day was hard. I woke up moody. The reality of this energy shift at home was as thick as the humidity hanging over outside. Despite having lightened my load of household responsibilities, I felt heavy and burdened. The past year brought challenges in and out of the lives of my family unit of five. It was filled with more ups and downs, hard decisions, unexpected changes, betrayals and disappointments than a typical year for us. Some of it was unfair and genuinely hurtful, and some self-inflicted. Life lessons learned for sure, but my feelings were festering. The time had come for me to pivot. Everyone else in my house had already done so. I was the last to step up to the plate and let it go which was unusual in my house. After all, I am the person around here who rents a dumpster every year and throws half the stuff in our house out. I loathe clutter. Yet, I was hoarding my emotions.
It has been over two years since I posted here. Work/life balance got away from me, and sharing moved way down on my priorities list. Looking for a positive creative outlet to replace the negative emotions I had tossed in the trash, this seemed like a good first step.
So what’s up with the cactus macaroons? Anyone who knows me and my middlest knows we love cacti and succulents. Our home is full of them and her new dorm room is dripping in cactus bedding, lights, plants and art. I am certain her room mate from New Jersey thinks we are a little off. I follow several succulent Instagram accounts and this popped up in my feed today. I mean how cute are those prickly pear macaroons? The only thing my middle one loves more than cacti are macaroons. No trip to NYC does not wind up with a visit to Ladurée. Everything about the image reminded me of her, and I smiled thinking about how excited she had to be on her first day of classes at college.
We spent the summer propagating succulents together and when she left a few weeks ago most of those tiny suckers had just started to show growth. So, in addition to taking care of my youngest and our beloved beagle Oliver, I now have a cookie sheet of baby succulents to care for too. Celebrating new beginnings.