A Table With An Extra Leaf

Me and Thing One

We dropped Thing One at the airport again this morning for his flight back to Walla Walla. He has been in college a year now and, overall, these comings and goings have become easier for me. Not because I don’t miss him but because he has proven himself more than up to the task and I have seen that life without him after 20 years with him is okay. I am okay. My time as Mom isn’t over but the role has shifted. Joe still needs me often enough, but he’s also on his own a lot more. So we dropped him at the curb with his bags and drove off without incident. No tears. Everything was copacetic.

Everything was fine when we got home too. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. It was the easiest drop off yet. Yay, me! I got to work on life around the house, laundry, vacuuming. Then I got to the kitchen table. I removed the placements, wiped it off, and went to take the fifth chair away. That is when I got sad and teary eyed. I put the fifth chair back at the dining table where it lives and then set about taking the extra leaf out of the kitchen table and returning it to its usual 4-person size. I stood there for a minute overwhelmed over the loss of that extra seat.

A little later after I thought I had moved on again and pulled myself together, I put on a hoodie Joe left behind for me. It smelled like him. I got teary eyed again.

Letting go is a process, one I have to keep reminding myself about over and over. I know I will never stop missing Joe or being sad when he leaves, but it will become part of our new relationship contract. I told him today that I was a little sad about the table. And then I told him that it is all okay because I love him with my whole heart and I am happy that he is off pursuing his own life, but I will always miss him when he leaves. Then I told him that someday he will miss me when I leave and that is life. He told me we’d best not talk about that ever again.

Relationships aren’t easy, but they are worthwhile. And I will always have a table with an extra leaf for those times when the important people pop back into my life. Until then, there’s this little guy who is here for me.

The son I got to replace the son who sent to college. I will have to get another when Thing Two goes to college. And I am really glad I didn’t have more children because I can only handle two dogs.

4 comments

  1. You are so right that letting go is a process. I did this exact same thing when my son left to go back home after Christmas. I got sad the night he left when I realized I was back to setting just two places at the table again (our youngest son wasn’t able to come home this Christmas and went to his wife’s family’s house). Both my sons live in a different state and granted it’s only 2 1/2-3 hours away, sometimes it seems like they are 1,000 miles away. I still miss them and I’m STILL adapting to my empty nest. I sometimes think I will never adapt and get used to it, that it’s going to be a lifelong “thing.”

    1. We spend so much time and expend so much energy raising our children it is understandable that the separation process takes time. I don’t think it will ever be easy, but I try to focus on how grateful I am to have them in my life at all. They have been such a gift to me.

    1. The college thing is so much back and forth. They’re still part of your home but not. It is hard. I imagine in time it will get easier and easier but never be 100% without a catch in the back of my throat.

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