“There’s no food in the house,” one of my kids said. I sighed. I’ve grocery shopped twice in the last week and we just ran out of cereal. My dishes are piled high because the dishwasher is continuously full, and we’re going through one roll of toilet paper a day.

It’s only been three days with everyone home. And that’s even missing the College Athlete who returned to campus for the week with his team.

It’s wedding week here are Picket Fence Farm. If you don’t follow me on social media, you have missed the snippets I’ve shared as we’re transforming the implement shed on the family farm to a wedding venue for my son and his bride-to-be. This is the boy who proposed on top of the silo. So why shouldn’t they get married on the farm?

A year ago while anticipating the wedding, my high school graduate going to college, and our oldest going to the mission field in Mexico, I was an emotional mess. The changes were too much. I teetered between tears and melancholy certain days knowing three of my four children would be “fledging” and we’d be left with our youngest at home.

With a few days before the wedding, a full house with our missionary, our new grand-dog, lots of physical labor requiring “working men” meals and a stocked refrigerator, I’m ready for the boy to move to his new home. I’ll be ready for the girl to return to Mexico where she serves orphans and vulnerable children. I’m looking forward to just throwing a quesadilla together for my high schooler if I don’t feel like cooking.

The toilet paper will last longer and I’ll have private conversations with my husband.

These are the perks of your kids becoming adults and living on their own. And it’s nice {can a mom say that?}

Yes, I really don’t miss cooking in massive amounts and putting meals in the freezer just to survive. I don’t miss the excessive revolving door every summer with four kids. I don’t miss going to twenty sporting events a week. I don’t miss being exhausted all the time.

Because mama’s growing old  up.

They say you grow up with your kids. At least that’s what I was told years ago when I didn’t want my preschoolers to get big. I recently said it to a mom who shared the same thing. We moms will always see our kids as our babies (“My baby’s sixty-five,” a mom told me at a speaking event).

We grow up as parents as much as our kids do. However, it’s not without sadness from the lingering grief over what is no more:

  • The completeness when all your kids are with you. With one glance, you physically see your kids in one swoop–laughing, playing together, even fighting. No matter what they’re doing, they’re there. You can touch, hug, and squeeze them. They’re within a mama’s reach. And you’re complete.
  • The wonder of childhood. They tell me this is what grandkids are for, and I’m counting on it because I miss childhood. There’s something about little kids in your house which makes what’s wrong in the world right, gives you a different perspective, and fills a mother’s heart. They give back more than they deplete from you (most of the time). You’re still a Rockstar in their eyes before you become uncool and your primary importance hinges on things like food and laundry. I miss having little kids.
  • Knowing who I am. Luckily, I faced this question before I was left as the lone mom in an empty house not knowing who I am. But many women face the identity crisis when kids grow up because your primary role has been mom. You know what that looks like, even on the worst days…because there’s still laundry to do and food to cook. When you don’t invest in yourself outside of your kids, the emptiness in your home is louder when your soul feels empty. Though I have a multi-faceted career as author, speaker, counselor, and educator, my role as mom is what fills my heart most days.
  • The words you can’t describe. I literally can’t describe this last form of grief over what is no longer. It’s all a mom feels that she can never describe except through tears. Tears of joy, longing, contentment, love, pride, gratitude, pain, sadness, grace, goodness, satisfaction, and everything else all at once. The feelings of growing up.

I’m enjoying the time with my kids home for whatever time they’re home this summer. I love talking to them about their lives, hopes, and dreams. I love seeing my daughter thrive in her calling, though she’s in a foreign country. I love seeing the groom put his bride first (though it’s an adjustment). I’ll love having just my college student and my high schooler home after the wedding….because it’s their time. We have our own rhythm, the four of us, and during the school year, just the three of us.

In a couple of years, it will be just the two of us. I’m still preparing for that. Looking forward it most days, after some of the mom-grief subsides.

I’m learning my husband and I experience this fledging of kids differently. He’s excited to ride his motorcycle more and to have me all to himself. I’ve told him I’ll get there, but I need some time. I tell him often we’re on the same team so he knows I’m here with him. But I need time.

Time to grow up and into the newness that’s changing all around me. Fewer kids. More him. Less chaos. More quiet.

Most day, I really like these things. Other days, I shed a few tears realizing my boy is getting married, my daughter is comfortable in a foreign country, and God is redeeming the years the locusts have eaten.

Growing pains are what I call them. My kids are growing up, and so am I. Most days, it feels really good.

And other days, it hurts.

I’m excited to share my upcoming book about this phase of life, “Fledge, Launching Kids without Losing Your Mind.” News about preorders will be coming soon, along with the book cover! If you or someone you know are parenting teens and young adults in between the “full house” to “empty nest” years, this book covers it all! The changing family, life, and the grief enmeshed in all of it! Watch the blog or my social media sites for upcoming news.

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