I am happy to report that Tripp and I successfully managed to make it through our first weekend as empty-nesters.
I’m joking of course (well kinda), but considering the amount of time and energy I’ve spent worrying about what life would be like once Kelsey went to college, I thought it necessary to make this affirmation. The truth is, this past weekend was really not that much different than any other weekend we’ve spent together over the past twenty years or so. Let’s see, we dropped some stuff off at Goodwill, made a trip to Home Depot, took the dogs to the groomer, went to the grocery store, read the Sunday paper, went to Mass…pretty lame stuff. Yet perfectly ordinary and wonderfully comforting.
Over the course of the weekend, I’ve been reflecting on this past year – so much anxiety, so much preparation, so much emotion. It started to remind me of when I was pregnant.
When I first found out that I was pregnant, I remember thinking that it was a good thing Kelsey wasn’t due for nine months because I didn’t have a clue about having a baby. Of course, the first thing I did was go out and buy a book about pregnancy. I read the first couple of chapters about fertilization and conception, but I made the mistake of flipping through to the last chapter and got completely freaked out when I saw pictures of the nine-month pregnant model with her ginormous belly and gigantic boobs. And reading about the actual labor and delivery was even worse…I was scared to death. In retrospect, I think I did the same thing last year – I immediately went to the back of the book and looked at the pictures of saying goodbye and got myself good and freaked out, not realizing that there would be months of transition to adapt to the upcoming changes.
It was during those first few months of pregnancy that I got a taste of the changes in store for my body. Physically, I felt terrible and sometimes I really struggled with staying positive. But once I got past the horrible, spirit-sapping “morning” sickness and returned to the land of the living, I actually enjoyed being pregnant. I loved experiencing those first few flutters in my belly – proof that something was actually happening. And there was something so incredible about watching my belly stretch to accommodate my growing baby. I loved watching from the outside as Kelsey performed her in-utero acrobatics and exercised her tiny legs in preparation for life outside of my protective cocoon. This past year was no different as I watched Kelsey grow and try new things, blossoming into a an engaging and confident young woman. She is so happy and so excited for her future. That alone makes every single stretch mark on my heart worth it.
It was also during pregnancy, most likely due to raging hormones I suppose, that my nesting instinct really kicked in – all I wanted to do was make stuff. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I probably tried at least half of the recipes in my new Treasury of Chocolatecookbook. And I spent the better part of that winter getting Kelsey’s room ready. I had fallen in love with a coordinating family of yellow and purple pansy-print fabrics at Hancock’s, and for weeks I sat hunched over the sewing machine nearly every evening after dinner working on a comforter, bedskirt, and bumper pad for Kelsey’s bed. Plus with the leftover fabric, I made a hanging diaper stacker and a cushion for my rocking chair. And once I finished that project, I started on a cross-stitch baby name wall hanging. I swear, it was like I couldn’t keep my hands busy enough. Some things never change I guess, and I still spend a good amount of time in my nest cooking, gardening, scrapbooking, and working on silly little craft projects. These delightful, creative endeavors make me tremendously happy and are truly my expressions of love for my family.
Not surprisingly, those nine months of pregnancy seemed to fly by at the speed of life. During the final weeks, it felt like I was on a steam train headed straight towards that life-changing parental milestone. Every day the train would pick up a little more momentum and every day the anxiety would gnaw in my belly – I hope I can do this. Finally, when the time came and Kelsey was ready, I went into labor. As we were leaving for the hospital, Tripp turned to lock the door behind us and I clearly remember thinking, “The next time we walk through this door, things will be different.” I had no idea exactly how or what it would look like, all I knew is that we were leaving as two and we would be coming home as three.
In some ways, I feel like I have given birth all over again – months of preparation and transition all leading up to the big day when Kelsey would leave her familiar surroundings and begin a new life of her own. And once again I have no idea what the next chapter of my will look like, but I am hopeful that it will be every bit as wonderful.
I am comforted that it’s off to a great start.