simple is beautiful

Our New Normal

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

With the birth of each child, I used to wonder how long it would take to reach our new normal - that moment when we would adjust to our new life and all that went with it.

I would be lying if I told you this wasn't an emotional summer.  I've seen it coming for years now and have even been known to cry at the end of a family vacation just thinking about it.  Our oldest went to college a couple of weeks ago.  His father and I knew that he was more than prepared to succeed in the next step in life's journey. Years of waking himself up and getting rides to 5:00AM swim practice (because his parents preferred sleeping) told us that he was driven to achieve the goals before him.  These were goals he set for himself and not goals that Mom and Dad set for him. We knew he was ready for the next step in life and that we needed to be strong even though saying good-bye would be one of the hardest things we've ever done.


Over the summer my memory filled with snapshots of moments.  I didn't share all of those moments on instagram and shared very little on the blog.  Rather, I gave myself time to process how I was feeling and really take in every moment before me.  I think of the time the boys and I drove to Maryland together and the song "I Hope You Dance" played on the radio.  He listened contentedly (I was fighting back the tears) and when the song was over Tyler mentioned that this song played at his high school convocation and I reminded him that it was also played at his pre-school graduation.  He replied with, "I guess that hit you in the feels".  He knows how a song can get me...or a moment.  It just happens and I'm OK with that.  I figure it is better to let emotions out than to deny them or be afraid to admit a certain feeling.  Sometimes I wish I could fight off tears a little better, but that's just how I am.

Each spring I am reminded of how quickly life passes before us, especially once you start raising a family. I've often watched the birds on our front porch.  Once they choose a place to build their nest, the male feeds the female while she keeps the eggs warm.  In no time the babies are born and both mother and father work to keep them fed.  In the blink of an eye I hear both parents on distant branches calling for their fledglings to fly. After much encouragement, they always fly.  So now our it is our turn.


The nest has been built and the fledgling has flown.  Here we are, a family of three.  Mornings are much quieter now that our oldest son isn't here in the mornings making a huge breakfast and chatting it up after practice.  I miss hearing the front door open and the "hello" that shortly followed.  Mattie Gray (our dog) misses him too - I'm sure.  Although we miss him, there is an upside.  Evenings are smoother because now we eat at a civilized hour rather than wait until after swim practice to eat together as a family.  I'm not buying nearly as many groceries or washing as many clothes.  Our youngest son has no competition now and is most likely getting tired of all the attention he is getting from his parents :).  I'm sure it is hard on him too in ways he may never admit.


So for now, we are enjoying our time with our only son at home (who also happens to be an amazing kid). We have a renewed appreciation for him and are making the most of our time together.  I guess you could say that's our new normal.

31 comments:

  1. I saw your son swim this summer and I was in awe of his talent. I kept thinking how PROUD you both must be of him (and I meant to write and tell you when that moment was fresh!) I have a decade before this happens at our house, and I already dread it. I hope your new normal continues to feel full and happy, and that Tyler has a great Freshman year.

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    1. Thank you Melissa! I hope you had a great summer with your sweet boys!

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  2. I am in tears reading this in carpool line waiting on my first grader. I know I will be in your position in the blink of an eye. So sweet Rene. So perfectly written.

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    1. Thank you! Sorry to make you cry in carpool line :/

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  3. This makes my heart hurt for what I know is coming... Hang in there! You seem to handle it with a lot of grace.

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    1. Just think Emily, you get to do it 5 times ;)

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  4. I can't imagine. I really can't. But I know this will be here in the blink of an eye for us too. Such a watershed moment it seems to be to send a child off to college. Have you seen Boyhood? Wow. I was stunned by the movie and cried for ages after we got home. As I did after reading this essay by Rob Lowe. I think it really tackles how hard it is to say good-bye. http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2014/05/rob_lowe_on_sending_his_son_off_to_college_an_excerpt_from_love_life.2.html

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    1. I read that expert and "ugly" cried for hours. It is reality for us all, but that doesn't make it any easier.

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  5. I know how you feel. Just sent number 2 of 3 out the door. We are down to just our 10th grade son at home. And, boy, is he getting the attention he has been missing all of these years! (a boy can't compete with the drama that comes from 2 big sisters!) We've decided that he will be absolutely perfect after we devote all our energies to him for the next three years!

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    1. Haha! I love it! Yes, we are hoping to make up for any lost time as well. Good luck to your family Trish!

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  6. oh Rene, I relate all too well. The upside is that now the youngest gets to be # 1 for a while, and that they deserve. It's even harder when the last one goes. Now I volley for their time, and its rare when we are all together as a family like the good ol times. Im lucky that Bethany lives near me, but my son is only a few hours away, but it seems like so far, cause I only see him every couple of months for a short time. I understand how you feel, and I have certainly been there. Youre ok as long as they're ok, and guess what, when the last one leaves the nest it's like you and your husband dating again, a cherished 'new normal' that you will also love. Kids are like puppies, I wish they would never leave the nest, but when they don't as adults, that is not really what we wish either. God bless your new normal, and best wishes for a successful launch for your son's freshman year. xoxo

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    1. Nancy, great point about the youngest getting to be #1. He has waited a long time for this :). You and Bethany seem so close and it's great that you get to work together. Yes, when it's time for our children to grow and find their way, that is a blessing.

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  7. Loved this post! I think life is about adjusting to the new normal. How lucky you are to have such great sons!

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  8. Hi Rene, First visit to your blog! Welcome the new normal, for it will open up new traditions and spending the time one on one with your youngest is truly a gift for the 3 of you. I relate one in college and one in 10 grade, both boys! I'm grateful for time & the opportunity to see them start to ween themselves away from us as parents. It's healthy & shows they have confidence to navigate forward on their own. You will be just fine! If you get bored theres always Pinterest, baking for them & sending them via mail!

    Happy Autumn welcome the change...
    Best,
    Gail
    Casual Loves Elegance

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Gail! Here's to new traditions.

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  9. what a touching post...our kids were spread out so I got to enjoy them each. when the last one left I cried for a couple of weeks and then as time went by I began to like my freedom...I had been a mother for a very long time. today they are all grown and next week we will take the youngest and her husband on a trip to Napa...life is good like this and this phase of being friends with adult kids lasts so much longer than what came before. Enjoy!

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    1. Watching them blossom into adulthood has its rewards. I love Napa! Enjoy!

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  10. Beautiful post, Rene. I can't imagine such a change and (with a two year old still in tow) it does seem far away some days! :) That is why your post is such a good reminder that the time does go fast and it'll be here before we know it. Congratulations to your son for starting college!

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  11. Haven't commented here in a while, but I wanted to tell you that I'm right there with you in that "new normal". Our oldest flew the nest for college a few weeks ago, and it's been an adjustment for all of us!

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    1. Thank you Ginger! I hope all is well with you and your family.

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  12. Oh Rene, I can't imagine but will be there in 3 short years! Motherhood is bittersweet and it all just goes so fast. Hang in there and enjoy your new normal and the inevitable first visit home!
    xo~Jill

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    1. Yes, rumor has it that he might come home for a weekend soon. Swim practice keeps at school and we are thrilled that he is happy with his choice of school and the friends he is making.

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  13. What a wonderful post, so poignant. I feel like during these teen years, every few months we get a "new normal!" Enjoy the time with your youngest as well as the different perspective and time with your oldest. Sounds like both with do great!

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    1. Haha! Had to laugh at the "every few months" comment. So true with teenagers :).

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  14. My number 2 just went to college and my number 3 is going early to dance in NY. My husband jokes that we are the only empty nesters with 4 kids at home! Love hearing your story. xokc

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  15. What a wonderful post. As the mother of two sons (now grown and married) I felt your words. When our oldest went off to college, my husband liked to say, I didn't know Kevin could talk. Without his big brother around he chatted more. Still, now our sons are giving us grand babies, it's a wonderful circle of life!
    Best to you and your family.
    Karen

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  16. Such a bittersweet time in our lives as mamas. I have sent three off to college and have one waiting his turn. :( It's never easy but you do adjust. Eventually you will fill your time with all the things you didn't have time for when they were home. It IS a wonderful circle of life!

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  17. This post is so beautifully written...I can feel your angst through your words. Or maybe that's my own angst, at the realization that we are 5 short years away from this. My son is already talking about colleges..and they are all out of state!! :0 But hopefully we are raising him up right, and they'll soar!! Thinking about you, sweet mama!! xo

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  18. Rene I have been thinking of you this summer. How bittersweet parenthood is, what a joy to watch him grow and go off to college and yet hard on a mama's heart. Wishing him all the best in his college life and for the rest of you at home, that you enjoy the rhythm of your new normal! XO

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Thanks so much for stopping by! I love your comments and read each and every one. Your questions will be answered here or you can email me at rene.cottageandvine@gmail.com

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