Life here on the ranch hasn’t been quite the same in the past few weeks. Wait, I’m not on a ranch. Life here in town hasn’t been quite the same in the past few weeks. I have sat down to finish the blog post about our girls trip to Arizona but it was not the story that was going to come to the keys today. (Yes, it’s coming but I’ve kinda had some other things going on…one of them being another girls trip- because that’s how I roll now- just kidding. I’m not that cool.)
We had a great summer (see past blog posts on the 100 mile hike), from that I have decided that I need to turn those blog posts into a book- prayers appreciated on that front, work has been busy, the kids all started back to school…and that last one has been quite the kick in the pants so let’s just stop here for a minute. Deep breath in, deep breath out. No where in the book What to Expect When You are Expecting do they EVER touch on parenting multiple children and how you will NOT be parenting them all in quite the same way. For you young whipper snappers out there, take note. This is a secret that no one will tell you and it can be the most daunting skill you will hone as a parent, but you WILL hone this skill (or come pretty close). I have faith in you. I am sharing it with you now because I like you. Mainly because you take the time to stop by and see what I have deemed worthy to put out on the world wide web no matter how bad it might be. Please note, I have not honed this skill- but you, you my friend have this ability and I am cheering for you on the sidelines of life. Just think mood swings…yours and theirs.
Our oldest, as you know from prior posts graduated from high school- which right now feels like about ten years ago. In August we moved her and two car loads of her stuff to Athens, Georgia, The Classic City, where she is now a Freshman at the University of Georgia. As we predicted, she has taken to college like a duck to water and living her best life (as much as hate that phrase). I have to say, even though she is only 37 miles away (thank you Find My Friends), her absence from home has not gone unnoticed.
(ME TEXTING )“hey! Just wanted to check in and see how things are going.”
Backspace……….and erase, you can’t text her all the time.
“hey! Let me know if there is anything we didn’t get that you think you guys might need for your room.”
“hey- are you sleeping ok? Do you need a sound machine?”
To use a term she would understand…OMG! Stop texting her for the love of God and all that is holy!!
This is how my first week was post Ivy leaving for college. I start to text and then have to remind myself that she is embarking on a new chapter in life and she doesn’t need me texting her constantly throughout the day. Even though this has been our relationship ever since she got her own phone. Now, she’s in college. She’d been there exactly 7 days at this point. Oh my heart. To be honest, I was totally fine her senior year of high school, graduation was a breeze, but this? This is hard stuff and I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. For a week I wandered around the house and organized every space. I went to work and not half paid attention to what was in front of me. I had felt lost myself and like I had lost something. I did loose something and one day you will too. I lost my child’s childhood to be exact. One would have thought this would have hit me more as we took a shot after finishing our 100 mile hike through England with her, but no…this is it. She will come back for holidays and such, but there has been a clear line drawn in our lives and things won’t ever be quite the same. It’s beautiful and painful all at once and I swear there is no way you can really prepare for this. Frank said it best when he said I was grieving her childhood. Do you know that feeling you get when you leave for a trip and are convinced you forgot to do something? That was the constant state I was in those first weeks, but the truth is I didn’t forget anything- I was just missing a big part of my heart and a big part of my every day life. I actually got teary eyed when doing her laundry she’d left that first week. People, I was crying over underwear!
Good news is she is great! Loving life, loving college, loving her dorm, loving her new friends. This was the life she was meant to live.
And for all intense purposes this was the life I was meant to live. I don’t think I told her everything or showed her everything she would need to know to face this next chapter. I hope in some ways I lead by example and other times prayed she would learn from my mistakes. Then there are the random and rambling one-way conversations you have with them because you want to make sure you tell them everything. That happens a lot before they leave by the way. You think of all the hard stuff that maybe you haven’t fully talked about or maybe you have but it needs to be revisited. Because this is it, once they move on to the next phase, it’s going to be different. Sure there will be times they come back to you for advice or help, but the circle of folks they will go to just got a good bit larger. Then you think about when you were their age and what you did…well, then you really panic. I’ll stop right there.
And then the OTHER thing that is mentioned NO WHERE in that book that we all owned and read like we should have been reading our Bibles is what life will be like 18 years from the day you are holding a six month old baby and find out you are going to be having ANOTHER baby in nine months. Nope, there was no chapter on that anywhere.
So, here we are again and we have our Julia starting her senior year and if I am being honest, this is much harder emotionally this go ’round. Most likely because I know what’s coming. She’s starting to apply to colleges, she’s having all the senior moments and events, and she’s going to find her path and follow it. Julia is an old and beautiful soul and if you are lucky enough to get close to her you’ll see this. She doesn’t always see this in herself but it’s true. My dad said something when Julia was probably four years old that has always stuck with me. He said “There is something very different and special about Julia.” (PSA-That’s not a knock at any of his other grandchildren, just an observation he, like many, made early on.) Julia is an artist in many ways and has been since she was a small child and very much self taught with the exception of her grandmother and father’s influences. She’s a very genuine kid and looks for that in others. She sees the world very differently than most kids her age and it’s one of the things I admire about her the most. I can’t wait to see what she does with this next phase in her life.
So, this year has already come with more tears because it’s going to mark the end of another chapter. But like with Ivy, with ends, there are also beginnings. And this, young mamas, is another thing you won’t really learn or appreciate until later – or at least I didn’t but boy am I getting a big ole dose of it now.
With all of these changes I have decided now would be a good time to take up a few hobbies to occupy my time/brain. One of those being an adult ballet class….I know I can hardly believe it myself. I even have the shoes to prove it.
So, in conclusion, there really aren’t just four of us anymore but things are a little quieter and things sometimes seem smaller without Ivy at home and will even more so this time next year. However, that will make the homecomings just that more largely fantastic.