I woke up with a familiar sensation. My stomach felt like a near-empty tube of toothpaste that was being rolled and squeezed. Instead of being discarded, intermittent pressure was being exerted in order to remove the few remaining specks of gel.
Despite my discomfort, I got dressed and headed downstairs. Breakfast did little to alter my condition. I simply tried to ignore it. I hoped it would dissipate soon.
Within no time, I was driving to the airport. Small talk with my son and his wife could not forestall the inevitable. Soon I’d be dropping them off at the departure area.
We had shared another delightful Passover and a short trip up into the mountains. I was grateful for these wonderful memories. But now, our time together would abruptly come to end.
Being an empty-nester has its positive and negative aspects. At the top of my list is the freedom to pursue my ambitions and spend quality time with my husband. At the other end of the spectrum is the challenge of having adult children who live out-of-state and visit infrequently.
Did I ever anticipate such a empty-nester scenario? The answer is a resounding- no.
While the expectations associated with my four children’s post college years was vague, I never visualized that two sons would live more than 1000 miles away and another would live halfway around the world. Fortunately, Jewish holidays continued to be a lure. The High Holidays in the fall and Passover in the spring are like magnets that attract my sons back to their former home. I cannot dismiss the thrill of being able to share the holidays with them. The upside of their visit is offset with the sadness that accompanies their departure. Like everything else in life, I have to find a way to have the positive aspects outweigh the negative.
My gratitude tips the balance on a rational level while my emotions go into overdrive when I realize that our time together is quickly coming to an end. As a child I never enjoyed the exhilarating effects of a speeding roller coaster. I preferred more tame amusement park rides. Perhaps, that is why I shutter as my emotions rise and fall each time my sons return home.
Occasionally, my melancholy last longer than a few hours. Finding ways to refocus my attention becomes a handy antidote for this condition. Within no time, I am back to normal as I sort through the latest family photos, get my house back in order, and write.
If I had not developed a healthy parent-child relationship, I doubt that I would experience the roller coaster ride of emotions. I would not have any separation anxiety, but would miss out on the special joy of a mother-child relationship.
Even though one son opted to move back to Colorado, I highly doubt that the others will follow. In the meantime, I need to be grateful that I can ride the empty nester roller coaster.