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New Parents and Empty Nesters

MilkWorks is all about new parents. They walk in our front door gently carrying a brand new baby. With great anticipation they enter the world of parenthood. All of the changes seem enormous at first. Sleep? What's that? A daily run? Fat chance! Money in the bank? How can one little baby cost so much?

Whether you have one child or many more, life is forever changed. Eventually new parents settle into a routine. We learn to juggle disrupted sleep, feel stretched too thin, cry for joy, worry too much, sit through endless dance recitals or soccer games, and make friends with other parents.

Then, in the blink of an eye and out of the blue, your last baby heads off to college. I have vague, but happy, memories of life pre-children, and, I was thrilled to become a mother. I will soon find out what comes next as my last baby hauls her matching sheets and comforter into her college dorm room.
Michael Gerson of the Washington Post recently wrote an eloquent goodbye to his youngest child as he sent him off to college. Gerson laments that the very best thing about a parent’s life is a short stage in someone else’s story. That story is the life of our children.

Apparently the greatest fear of most college students is that they will not have a room to come home to. My daughter happened to ask for room darkening shades for the last five years. Sure enough, two days before she set off for college, I finally put the long requested shades up in her bedroom. Was I unconsciously delaying her departure? Or trying to guarantee she will return home to sleep in her bedroom once again?

My life changed drastically 32 years ago when I became a mother. When my eldest child took his first steps, I mourned the loss of my crawling baby for a brief moment - until I delighted in my walking toddler. I learned that each stage my children went through held a wonderful lesson in life. I learned to lose my resistance to change and embrace “right now and right here.” Mostly I learned that my job was not to mold my children, but to support their unique journeys through life and let me tag along for the ride.

As I say good bye to my last baby and gently place a mother- made quilt on her dorm bed, I will hold this wisdom near and dear to my heart. As I float into the next stage of my life, ever so grateful for the opportunity to be part of my children’s lives, I will repeat to myself: I will love this new stage…I will love this new stage….I will love this new stage in my life……

And deep inside I will hope that Ella remembers those new drapes in her bedroom on Lake Street……