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Challenge: Life Changes

Last nights and First Nights

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My kids and I had this routine before bed, I yell up the stairs, “goodnight, I love you” they come down, lean their head forward so I can kiss the top of it and say, “I love you too”. So went our routine, until it stopped. We were coming to a point, when they both were leaving me, and it hit me, in a matter of days, I would be doing that for what would, at least symbolically be, the last night. Yes, I'm being dramatic. She only went an hour and a half away, and she’s home a lot, but, it's different. He decided to move all the way to Florida to live with his dad for a few years. You see, I believe we take our children somewhat for granted - because well, they don’t have a choice. They kind of have to live with us, and we see them, every day, every night.

Until they do have a choice. And what I’ve noticed, is we change. Because now that they have a choice, we act in a way as parents to ensure that they will choose to come back. But I digress, back to the last night. Saying goodbye to each of them sucked, but the night before, the last night, it was toughest. And that's how I chose to look at it, because since that’s the last night, the next day brought a first night. For her, It was the first night in her “own” place. Finding her way, dealing with her fear and anxiety and a roommate. But her first night on this incredible next chapter. A night to feel accomplished, free, independent. For him, it was his first night away from mom, a readjustment to his father, no longer living with his sister, but the first night on a new adventure of growth. For me, and my hubby, it was our first night on our next adventure. Focusing on our careers and our marriage and our future without every decision now having to be made with the children in mind.

I didn't look forward to our last night together, but I wasn't fearful of our first one apart.

This last year has challenged me, my thought process, my ability to choose joy. My daughter's departure for college, I was ready for, my son moving away to Florida to live with his dad, that I wasn't. I left the security of my professional family of 10 years to take a risk. I turned 40. I have found joy in places that most people would be really surprised I could. At night, we all lay our heads down in different cities, separated. But - that’s ok. It’s better than ok, it’s right. Here’s what I’ve learned through divorce, separation, job change, and everything in between.

A day marked on the calendar is NOT what makes the holiday
Distance and miles do not keep us apart.
Family is not about biology
A job is not a career, and a career is not your job
You get what you give
It’s ok to put my marriage before my kids, because guess who’s head is left laying down next to mine

People keep asking me how I’m doing with it all, and I feel like I’m supposed to tell them not well, or should be embarrassed to admit, I’m finding joy in our new normal. There are times I feel more involved in the life of the child who lives 2000 miles away than the one down the road. Times I sit with my sweet girl and hear her talk about her dreams and hopes and worry I won’t be able to help develop his. But we find ways to connect when we need too and be there for each other and I believe our bond is stronger than a lot of “normal” families that I meet. Maybe because we no longer can take it for granted and we have to work at it.

She goes to sleep in her dorm, excited, passionate, focused and determined.
He goes to sleep in his room knowing mom will be there soon and focused on high school and soccer.
I go to sleep next to my best friend and soul mate, thinking about the amazing things we are getting ready for.
And we all sleep soundly, even though we aren’t together, we are right where we are supposed to be.

If you are facing something finalizing, something coming to an end or the thought of having to leave someone. If this is the last night, if today is the end of something, don’t worry, all that means, is tomorrow is the beginning of something.

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