Unexpected silences

My older son, now a newly-minted adult, travelled by train the other day to visit the town we left back in 1995, and his father and grandparents. He’s trying to find some answers, and some closure, and while I wish he had not felt a need to ever see those people again, I can understand that he did. He won’t be gone for long, but when he gets back, he’s planning on working toward moving out for good.

And my daughter is packing already; she now has her own place with three friends, and when she isn’t at work, she’s looking toward this new future. She’s going to be on her own in just a handful of days, and will suddenly become a visitor when she’s here.

With a five-year-old child still zipping around the place, I cannot say the house is silent. But it suddenly has moments of silence in places where I previously had noise … when my little guy is working on a drawing and I cannot hear the older two, playing a game together or discussing who reall did direct that movie, when I turn a corner and confront a room that has been inhabited nearly round the clock for years to say something to a kid who suddenly isn’t there. We homeschooled, so we were together all the time. I’m used to the comforting reassurance of knowing where my people are, and knowing that they’re fine.

They’re ready to grow up, and ready to move on with their lives. And much of me is ready to see them do this, and proud that they have both grown up to be good adults, and people that I like as well as love. But a part of me is haunted by the unexpected silences, and by the sharp cutting of the passage of time. I still remember the weight of each of them as babies in my arms, their parades of firsts and accomplishments. Those memories are as fresh as yesterday, only now I’m forced to hold up those pictures and admit the fading around the edges that I was not ready to see.

And the silences chill like the first cold snap, with winter coming close behind.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

6 comments… add one
  • Nick Apr 8, 2003 @ 6:43

    As someone who’s about to cut the apron strings myself, I’m with Bob. The new adult no longer needs the parent in the same way the child did. Which is cool, because it paves the way for a mature friendship. May that grow and deepen when your kids are welcome visitors rather than inhabitants of your home.

  • Rick Apr 7, 2003 @ 18:10

    I disagree with Bob. You’ve done a good job if they’re ready for this moment, and can face the world on their own. But you’re their mother — they’ll always need you.

  • Bob Apr 7, 2003 @ 11:52

    Holly, the best thing you can do as a parent is to prepare your kids for this moment. If you have done a good job, when they leave the nest they are ready to fly on their own and no longer need you.

    So if you have worked yourself out of the job, you’ve done it well.

  • Lydia Apr 5, 2003 @ 11:21

    Strange feeling, huh? I remember when my older sister and older brother went off to college. Really weird.

  • Linda Apr 5, 2003 @ 10:51

    Exactly!! Both of my sons moved out within a couple of months of each other. I went from a noisy family of four to a quiet family of two (plus cat) very quickly.

    I miss my kids, but I love hearing about their new lives and watching them build a place for themselves in the world. They’re both doing really well. I’m a very proud mom and, your posts indicate that your kids make you proud, too. 🙂

  • Jean Apr 5, 2003 @ 9:14

    Ah. Empty nest. You’ll find yourself setting a place for them at dinner. Looking around to speak to them. They won’t talk to you for days (or more), because they’re so involved in their own lives. They will struggle with things that have long ago become so obvious to you, and your heart will break to watch them. But the fledglings are striking out. From what I can tell, you have prepared them well. I know how proud you are of them. It’s a tough adjustment, but you’ll get through it. Congratulations.

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