Finding independence


For the past six months, my daughter has been out, living on her own. Despite my initial concerns, she’s actually done pretty well on her own.

Like any other mother, I was hesitant and a bit skeptical Caitlin could do it. I thought she’d be gone for a month, maybe two, and decide to come home. But week after week, month after month, she’s made her own way and, at 21, has become an independent young woman who any mother can be proud of.

Don’t get me wrong. I miss her every single day. There are days, after a long day at work, that I miss her terribly. I miss seeing her smile, I miss hearing her laugh. I even miss the looks she gave me after I would tell her to clean her room. (Needless to say, her room has never been so clean!)

But while she moved to the “big” city — Albuquerque — I think we might be closer than ever. When she first moved out, she called me about three to four times a day. Now, it’s maybe about one or two times a day, sometimes it’s every other day.

And it’s not like I never see her. Caitlin comes home about every other weekend. I’d like to say it’s because she misses me, but really it’s because she has a part-time weekend job back here in her home town.

In the time that she’s been gone, she’s had to grow up a lot. She’s had to learn how to feed herself, do her own laundry, pay her own bills and make sure she gets up on time every morning to get to school and/or work. So far, so good.

She’s also become a new mama. No, she didn’t have a baby, but rather adopted a Chihuahua she named Biggie. She’s made sure he has all his shots, she just had him neutered and is desperately trying to potty train the small and feisty little puppy.

She brings him home to us when she’s here for the weekend, and while she’s at work, I get to dog sit. I don’t mind it too much. He’s actually kind of sweet. But our other dog, Geri, doesn’t feel the same.

Sometimes I think she gets a bit jealous every time I pick him up, pet him or give him any kind of attention. I don’t blame her though. Every since Caitlin left six months ago, it’s only been my husband, Matthew, Geri and myself. And she’s been getting the majority of our attention.

Now that the kids are all grown and have their own lives, Matthew and I are feeling that empty-nest syndrome. We sometimes look at each other and say, “What now?”

As most empty-nesters will tell you, the majority of their days weren’t necessarily focused on the marriage, but rather on the children and what was going on in their lives: soccer practice, homework, school activities and anything else that they were involved with. And now that they’re gone and making lives of their own, we’re left here wondering where our lives are headed next.

Both Matthew and I had our children young, and we find ourselves in our early 40s without kids while most of our friends are in the midst of what we were going through 10 or 15 years ago. It’s actually a good thing — I think.

We’re young enough to do the things we always wanted to do, and we still have the energy to actually do them. As I’ve written in previous columns, we’ve both been losing weight and getting into shape.

So when we’re bored, we’ll go for a bike ride, a walk or jump in the car and see where the road takes us. I thought we’d be more bored when the kids left. But we’re actually discovering more about ourselves and finally have a chance to reconnect and enjoy one another.

Yes, I miss the kids. I miss my Caitlin. But I’m so glad that I’ve found my independence again and have been able to experience the next part of our lives.

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