Year Two Drop Off

An installment of Empty Nest Notes

 

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I’m so proud of this guy! He’s a happy guy back at college!

 

About three weeks ago my husband, son and I ventured south to our son’s college. It’s Branden’s sophomore year, an easier move than last.  This year we all knew what to expect and thankfully there were no tears as we moved and dropped off.

 

 

 

Imagine a squished family wedged in a jam packed car. Heaping clothes were piled high in baskets and a microwave, mini fridge and crates of supplies were stacked upon each other. My husband is an expert car packer from years of caretaking and chaffeuring, so he was up for the task. By the time all was loaded, a small seat in the back remained where Branden had to squeeze in for the ride. Thankfully Tom could still see in the side mirrors for a safe drive.

 

 

 

Upon arriving, we saw cars with families like ours everywhere. People scurried around with crates, small pieces of furniture and all the college essentials. It was comforting to greet some student helpers with huge laundry wagons to transport Branden’s belongings. It was as simple as signing up and while we waited and ate a quick snack, Branden went to sign in and receive his room key.

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This photo is a vivid memory of last year, Branden’s first year at college.

 

 

 

This year our son lives on the second floor, a floor down from last year. The room is much smaller facing the back side of the building with two windows letting in the lovely light. He shares his room with a friend of his, one person less from last year. Last year’s room was big but needed to fit three grown men.

 

 

 

 

Tom helped Bran haul the mini fridge in and placed it under his bed. It’s cool that the bed is on risers so we raised it, with enough room to fit a few crates and the fridge. His bed was placed on the right side of the wall parallel to his buddy’s bed on the left. He has a desk and chair and a bureau which we placed at the foot of his bed to save space. His closet is good sized, enough to house all his clothes and essentials.

 

 

 

 

We stayed about an hour and then was on our way but not without hugs and spoken well wishes for a great school year. Riding home we talked about Bran’s happy disposition and how this college really is the perfect fit for him. He set his mind on it early in the college search and just knew in his heart that it was home. I can only wish this for any college freshmen, to know what place speaks to them as a second home. As proud parents, Tom and I are blessed that he made the right choice for him without pressures from outside sources.

 

 

 

In a few weeks I plan to bake one of Bran’s favorite cookies, peanut butter chocolate chips to send in a care package. I figure it’s a package of home for him to enjoy and relish in. I talked to my mother in law and she plans to bake when it cools down in Florida. We are setting up a system that we let each other know when we send our packages so that it doesn’t arrive the same week.

 

 

I want to wrap up this post with a small prayer for college students and their families.

Dear God,

Please allow these students to adjust to college life, especially freshman. Give them strength to harbor the change and courage to withstand any obstacle. Help them study hard and make good friends, friends that last a lifetime. Bless them as they live the college life and ease their parents’ minds that all will be well.

In the Lord’s name,

Amen

God Bless you all as you go about your day. I’m spending some time writing today and hope to tackle a few more posts for the coming days.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Looking Back and Ahead

 

 

Recently I was rummaging through old digital images and found these keepers from 2014. Surprisingly I have never shared them and forgot them in this busy whirlwind of life. It was an emotional time as our family was getting ready to say good luck to our oldest son, Dylan as he made his way to college in Maine. Branden was still in high school and entering his junior year. 

 

 

 

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This October trip was our last one as a family and I could already feel significant differences. Our boys weren’t boys anymore but strong young men with dreams and hopes for their futures. As they walked the path to the ocean, I couldn’t help compare it to their new lives. Looking out upon the vast and open ocean, perhaps my sons thought of their uncertain but exciting future! The never ending water symbolized their journey into the unknown real world. No more mom and dad holding their hands or life in a small town as they knew all their lives. 

 

 

 

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The few family vacations we ventured on were to the beach at Ogunquit, Maine. Years ago, as little active boys they would run and kick the sand and chase after the seagulls. Wading in and out of the rushing in tide could entertain them for hours. We would laugh and play and soak in the sun. Those memories will live with me forever. 

 

 

 

This trip they gazed at the ocean, sat in the sand and walked up to the approaching tide. It was a chilly but bright October day with few crowds. Most people were bundled in coats or sweatshirts and merely walked the ocean’s edge unlike the brave summer swimmers from months before. 

 

 

 

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I feel grateful beyond belief that Tom and I had all this God given time with our sons. Now, as they start their new lives, we welcome all their stories and life experiences and offer wise advice when they ask for it. This is a happy and joyful time of our lives where we look forward to our family expanding and being grandparents someday!

 

 

 

What a blessing to find these pictures during a time I feel nostalgic of family times. This wasn’t the best of trips but just as meaningful and I’m so happy that we did it that weekend and enjoyed our sons as grown men!

 

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul >3

 

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The Life I Imagined

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Have you ever listened to a song and wondered about the words? Maybe fantasize for a split second…what if things had been different? Don’t we all ask ourselves at one moment or another, how different life would be if we had taken alternate paths?
Years ago I was a busy housewife and mother of two busy sons when I heard Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song He thinks he’ll keep her. I really listened to the lyrics and tried to empathize with this woman’s feelings as a distraught housewife and mother. It was easy to relate to her plight for like any mother, there were times I was overwhelmed with all the responsibility. Although I understood the woman’s feelings in the song, I know deep within me I am happy for the choices I’ve made in my life. The woman in the song walked away from her marriage and never looked back. That’s what she had to do to survive but her story is different than mine.

 

 

Once in awhile I think what if? What if I had made different life choices such as joining the Air Force, which I thought of momentarily in my twenties or finished college in Boston 28 years ago? What if I had chosen a career other than a grocery deli worker that I did for 12 years? If I had made any different decisions,  I wouldn’t be where I’m at today! I wouldn’t have met the people I have, especially my mother in law at our workplace at Butsons Supermarket or my husband shortly after. I wouldn’t have my beautiful grown sons or be living in the small town I call home. Dreaming of what if only brings a split second of curiosity but mostly an assurance that the choices I made were perfect for me!

 

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If I had a retry and a chance to change any circumstance of my adult life, I wouldn’t! I feel like my nature would be different and with different experiences brings pain and sorrow at times. If I harbor any ill feelings about my past, it would only be for my low self esteem. I wish I could back up fifteen or twenty years and really work at being confident then instead of now, so much later. Maybe my life would be even richer if I had just told myself, “ You know what, you are okay. More than okay!”

 

 

If you’re a teenager or in your twenties and you aren’t sure of what direction to take, trust yourself. Go out on a limb and take chances. Believe in yourself and trust your gut. If your choice feels right, do it and don’t even think about it. Sometimes the pressure of life’s direction is all the thinking we do.

 

The life I imagined wasn’t even close to as sweet and rich it really is! My dreams were surpassed and I’m living everyday with a grateful attitude and love for this life. It truly is a blessing and gift and with everyday I continue to unwrap it!

 

I hope YOU are living your dream and that your expectations have been surpassed. Sending many blessings to you all! Embrace your life and all the gifts and even hardships, for that’s how we grow and learn.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul❤️
Mary B.

The Road Ahead

 

 

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It was a peaceful and beautiful ride home. The sky above us was a stunning shade of blue, coaxing me to snap its portrait. Thick fingers of puffy white and gray clouds spread across the sky. Staunch rock mountains bordered the road, enclosing us in. Perfect pine trees stood as erect as can be, like guarding soldiers lining the way.Our beautiful mountains welcomed us to New Hampshire, one of our favorite landscapes and sign that home was near.

 

We had just dropped off our youngest son to college, so exciting and new to him. As we drove through Lincoln and then Franconia Notch, profound thoughts came to life. Not only was Branden starting a unique journey in his life, where he  had never trod before….but Tom and I were as well.

 

As the road stretched before us in the light of this day, I felt strange yet exhilarated. The interstate ahead ( nestled in the valley of magnificent mountains) represented our journey in coming years. It’s a time of reconnecting as husband and wife. There will be no more homework sessions, baseball games with late hurried meals and no more drama performances with camera in tow. No more piled up stinky teenaged laundry, pleads for the car keys or staying up late waiting for him to come home. ( Not for now anyway, school breaks I’ll probably revisit this).

 

With the slow motion ride, I thought maybe this time was a gift. A remarkable present of alone time, peace and quiet, spontaneous trips and certainty. This certainty would be that we, as devout parents, completed our tremendous job with so many memories along the way! I think I’ll treasure them and put them in my pocket to bring out from time to time to cherish and reflect on.

 

 

 

Great times are ahead and as we see our sons, most of the unsettling and exciting child raising is caput. What remains is simply enjoying them and watching them go about their adult lives. There will be times they need or want us and that’s something to hold on to.

 

 

 

 

Coming home that night, the house was quiet and it seemed odd. We were here together in this space without our sons. A road lies ahead of us and our experiences are yet to be determined. This uncertain journey may be scary with bumps along the way and we may not know what to do at first, but I have confidence that it will be as wonderful as our last 22 years.

 

 

Here’s a BIG shout out to all my readers! Thank you for reading my material and responding with love and friendship. I have not posted as often as I like lately but intend to write more and post  few times a week. Future posts I’m working on include A Father and Son story ( one close to my heart) and my garden in its ending stage.

All my Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

 

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It’s Not About Me

Dedicated to all Empty Nesters out there.

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Sometimes I long to turn back time to when Branden was a wee little boy.

 

 

 

Let him fly and stretch his wings, they say. Let go and live your life, they say. Empty nest, they say. There comes a crucial time in motherhood when you hear your friends and family’s thoughtful advice about your child’s departure. I guess it eases my mind that most moms do get through it and plow ahead in their life, but I won’t be free of worries. There will always be random thoughts or questions lingering, does he know what to do when he’s sick? Will he call us when he needs to? Did we raise him right in serious and difficult situations?

 

 

 

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This is about him and his hopes and dreams.

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Now we’re in crunch time, just a few weeks away from drop off in a different state 2 1/2 hours away from home. Many essentials are bought and packed. I bought new underwear and socks, against his judgement. All that’s left is to scan Amazon and rent a few text books and connect with roomies about who’s bringing what. Amid all this fantastic organization, my heart feels like it’s being shattered. I suspect that Branden will miss home and his predictable life in a small town, but I know even more that he will excel and persevere because that’s the guy he is.

 

 

 

 

Even though I dread drop off and turning away, ( just as I did in Kindergarten) I know it’s not about me. This story isn’t mine…it’s his. It’s not about my sense of loss, lack of purpose ( other empty nest moms, is this familiar?) or racing mind. It’s not about passing his bedroom down the hall and missing him on his computer. It’s not about missing interesting dinner conversations with him leading the show.

 

 

 

One important thing I will emphatically miss is knowing what he did that day or if it was good or not so good. I’m just getting used to missing that with my oldest son Dylan. I trust he’s doing okay and check in when Dylan stops by for his bowl of cereal. Maybe Branden, Tom and I will connect through FaceTime or Skype. Maybe there will be distant phone calls with my motherly longing to grill him for details, something I’ll have to deviate from.

 

There is a bright side…all these feelings are normal and part of the motherhood package. Who said I could keep him home forever? Who would want to keep their offspring from pursuing their dreams…not me. Raising children has stages and this is one of the final ones, letting go. It’s a new start, an adventure for the books and it’s his story, not mine. You see, I already know that it’s not about me.

 

 

Are there any empty nesters out there with stories or advice? I would love to hear from you!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️