Yesterday, I picked the very last of the bell peppers. They have been patient, holding on until their faces reddened, sweetened by the kiss of time. I’ve been waiting for the perfect evening, and last night was it—the cool of fall whispering around the edges of the day. It was just right for peppers stuffed with sweet sausage mixed with beef, just a hint of heat and smothered in cheese.
Dinner is tricky now that Teddy is off to college. His little brother is so busy with the marching band he’s rarely home in the evenings. Most nights it’s just me and my husband, trying to remember how to move around together in all this space.
My friends who are full-blown empty nesters seem to have it all figured out. They go on date nights in the middle of the week or take up camping. They have season tickets to all the concerts that move through our little town, discover every new restaurant and bar. But Jeff and I are still here, waiting on pins and needles on a Friday night until our sixteen-year-old rolls in from the ball game, waiting anxiously by the phone for a Sunday call from the college freshman. We’re still in this strange in-between place of parenting and letting go. Some days my heart swells with pride as I give thanks for the men my sons are becoming. Others, I can’t move through the house without bursting into tears at the echoing hallways. My heart is so tender for the babes I once cradled in my arms. I miss the days of snuggled in stories and bedtime prayers, of all the questions they had when the lights went down.
Who will answer the questions now?
This is a time of beauty and a time of surrender. My heart breaks a little every day but it also is growing a greater vision. I am one of a bazillion mamas down through the ages who has wrestled with this open-handed love. It’s a story as old as these sloping hills that surround our little valley, all their sharp edges worn smooth by the many years they have stood—tall and proud, battered and caressed. I feel softer around the edges too.
Before Teddy left for school I started a new journal. I wanted a clean space—wide pages to record all these new feelings. I don’t know why it always takes me by surprise: how new seasons can be so terrible and wonderful all at once. God is always, always teaching me about his love for me through my seasons of parenting my boys. I’m listening close for the lessons during this almost-empty-nest time.
Jeff and I will get used to eating leftovers. Or maybe, just maybe … we’ll go out.
I’m writing in community with the thirty-one dayers. Women all over the world are joining together in the month of October to write every day about something they’re passionate about. Check out some of the other writers here. So much good stuff.
The Not-Alone Alone
The Night Between Two Days
Every Little Thing
I Go Alone
Dinner for Two
A Table the Reaches Across the Miles
Writing as Prayer
When Obama Came to Town
In Praise of Happiness
Touch the Sky