Up until the night they leave, the thought of them leaving is delicious. I imagine all the things I will do. I will shampoo the carpets! I will redo a bedroom! I will throw pots until my fingers are useless! I will finish that mural!
And then they leave and it’s different.
A vacuum void rushes in where the children were. There are no grouchy people. There are no complaints. There are opportunities to prioritize someone else’s happiness before my own. There are no hugs. There is just me, and a vacuum sucking sound where it feels like all the air has been sucked out of the house.
As soon as they leave, I want to go hide. With the dogs. And for a time there is a particular kind of grief. The slow letting go that happens when children grow up and find you irritating even if they love you deep down. The loss of walks with a 2 year old, impromptu performances of a 3 year old, drawings of all the things in our lives from a 4 year old and the outfits that we put on the 5 year old. The future asks “what now?”
The beautiful memories of the revelation of their childhood (which half the time I was trying to escape from to maintain my sanity) is wrapped up like a gift that sits in the past. Like a rich dessert, too much at times.
The family leaving the house is a rollercoaster.
They are gone (vacuum sound – SHOOMP! Hide!).
They are gone! (anguish? nostalgia.)
They are gone! (jubilee!)
They are gone! (when will they return?)
They are still gone. (hustle, rest, hustle, rest) (times 3)
They are back. (bittersweet)
They are back. (bittersweet some more)
They are back. (my heart pieces come back together)