My house is a home once again

It’s Feb. 28, 9 a.m., and my house is very quiet.
The kitchen is chock full of empty boxes and suitcases too large for the attic, but my house is very quiet because, thankfully, it’s too early for my 19-year-old to be awake.
Oh, how things change.
It’s two days since Daughter #3 returned to the fold to rethink her future steps 18 months after moving to the big city.
Her post-secondary path met a roadblock last fall and in the aftermath of withdrawing from classes, indecision, and despite a valiant stab at the working world in the big city, the factors of reality have made “home” a more logical place to regroup.
I sit here and think back upon the first few days in September, 2008 when I’d just returned to this house from moving my final shift in children to the big city—in that moment when I found myself alone and pacing a childless cage.
I was among the lyrics in a Bruce Cockburn song and the one for whom the website flownthenest.com was written, and like something from a Van Morrison song, I hoped for “Enlightenment” in an empty nest.
I had proven myself so many times as a mom since 1985. Parenthood was all I had known, who I’d been, and where almost all of my emotional and intellectual skills had resided for 23 years.
Eighteen months ago, I was like an old debit card. A mother whose magnetic strip had worn thin. Time for a replacement card that included free space, time, and all that.
I had to live with myself.
I’d never had really done that—really had the opportunity in my lifetime to do that.
Even before I was done college, I had met the first guy I would marry, so I never really had time to get to know myself. By the time I was separated and divorced from that adventure, I had three very young daughters to parent.
Motherhood took notes and Beth was 82nd on the dictation list. I never got past 81.
Then I met Peter. Thank God for Peter. Yet, I was still a mother with young kids and now a wife again.
Roles rolled on.
Eighteen months ago, I’d predicted it would take my dogs weeks before they ignored the drone of the school bus coming down the country road to drop off Daughter #3 from high school. Instead it took months.
And today, if I see a school bus, I still can stop them in their dog tracks if I say, “Here she comes.”
It’s not only elephants that never forget.
Eighteen months ago, I faced a brand new desert, a new dawn, the high road, the road less travelled, woot! woot! woot!
I ran around buck naked if I wanted to, and was freed from picking up a certain someone from work at 10:30 p.m. six out of seven nights a week. I went vegetarian, played my music loud at 5 a.m., and was done with arguments about whose turn it is to do dishes.
And alone with myself, I often didn’t do dishes at all until I’d used up all the eating utensils I could find.
There was no more head-banging teenage rap music to roll my eyes at, and no more silent treatment at the supper table by an aforementioned bad mood bear.
My house saw a new dawning and I learned very quickly to dance to sound of my own drum.
Eighteen months ago, I expected the days would drip slowly on the page, Mr. Cockburn and that I would pace the cage.
The days dripped and I paced for about as long as it took Olympic moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau to fly down Cypress Mountain and win his gold medal.
Life without kids in the house did not take some getting used to. It fit me snug as my size seven furry slippers do every morning. I looked forward, not backwards, at all the possibilities and ran with it.
Ah, but little did I know.
And never in 100 light years did I expect to return to sharing life in this five-room farmhouse with Daughter #3—in an open-ended term.
But here’s the beauty in the smooth and the rough and the unknown if you are raised in the belief that you matter. Good parents support their children.
My parents believed in me, through my success and stumbling and in all my unsure times. There were no failures. Anything was possible.
In the spirit of parenthood, let me reiterate my words from 18 months ago. Here’s to you, #3.
Let me begin with a big round of applause to a certain 19-year-old the possibilities for whom have only just begun.
Proud of you? Nothing this talented writer can come up with could convey how my rewarded heart believes in you.
However, I doubt you will empathize with anything I’ve written about in the last few paragraphs and most likely, if I know anything, you won’t even read this column until 15 years from now, when stuff your mother did back then seems cool to you now.
That’s okay.
It’s a mom-thing.

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