Almost There…

Margaret Dewilliam Horton Empty Nest

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I might just be getting the hang of this…maybe. I may have possibly figured out what it means to be a mom to three adult sons…sort of. Or at least I'm on the road to that place, winding and jolting and full of steep hills and potholes that it is sometimes.

One of my goals this first empty nest year was to explore what it means to be that mom: the one who doesn't know exactly what role she plays in her family at present, but is working to figure it out. To write and document and feel each quake, complete with unpredictable aftershocks, as the tectonic plates of my world shift to new places. With each word and photograph and paragraph I am moving forward, steadily, if not a bit shakily. And I should, because of course…they are. I'm quite certain I’m not meant to be stuck in their younger years, repeating myself like a skipping record. (And evidently I am dating myself with a comparison like that.) I'm also quite certain that I'm getting that message LOUD AND CLEAR from each of them. If I become complacent and begin to interact in the old ways—in the ways that are easy and comfortable and comforting, those ways in which I know by heart how to mother—a telltale rumble begins and I am duly warned.

I get filled in on the status of their lives via text messages, phone calls, opening doors, closing doors, cars in the driveway, brief visits, Facebook posts, appearances at the dinner table or the very rare request for help. These updates come to me on their terms alone and they should. I let that happen and I should. It wouldn't do any of us any good for me to cling to them or tug at them: To impede their personal growth or roadblock their path to independent adulthood. But oh how I want to spend some hours back in the days when our family and this house was their entire world. I know in doing so I run the risk of impeding my own personal growth; placing a roadblock in the path of whatever else is ahead for me, too.

One of my sons is building a life in a town several hours away. Another lives here at home, but does his best creative work long after my head hits the pillow and often goes to bed just before I rise. The third is just went back to school after a summer at home where he radiated confidence and solidified just how capable he is without the rest of us nearby.

We are interconnected pieces that surround and protect a common core. Traveling independently alongside each other. Doing our own thing but staying in contact. Every once in a while, one of us makes a move and the rest of us shift, slide or lurch into place because, by definition, we have to. I think I’m getting it.

About the Author

Margaret Dewilliam Horton

Margaret Dewilliam Horton is a writer, photographer and mom who loves spending time with her husband and three sons, all of whom she thinks are funny. You can see more of her work on her website .

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