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"The empty nest" by Christine Johnson (CatholicMom.com) Copyright 2019 Christine Johnson. All rights reserved.[/caption]

“The errand I ran today was looking at an apartment, and we signed paperwork. If we’re approved, I’m going to move out Friday or Saturday.”

My mouth dropped open. Earlier in the day, our older daughter had told me she was “running an errand” without providing any more details. I didn’t ask what she was doing, and though I knew she had discussed moving out, I had no idea that she’d seriously looked anywhere. She’d just given me three days’ notice. On the day after Christmas.

It took her longer to really move out completely, but the shock I felt that night rocked me. I spent the entire next day crying. I managed to get myself together enough to offer to go purchase some items she’d need for her new place, so we went to WalMart after dinner and bought some linens and pots and pans.

I’ve had more time to get used to the idea that our younger daughter would probably be leaving for college in the fall. She hemmed and hawed, going back and forth between staying home to get an Associate’s at the local community college and going away as a freshman to a Catholic college to work on her psychology degree. We visited a couple of colleges, and she fell in love with Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. She applied for, and received, one of their top academic scholarships. When we went there for Scholarship Weekend, we put down a deposit for her first semester.

Within eight months this year, I will go from being a homeschooling mother with two children living at home to an empty nester. And that’s kind of A Big Deal.

Some people celebrate this kind of thing (you can search for “empty nest photoshoot” and find more than one couple who celebrate the occasion). I’ve been dreading it a little. I love my kids. I even like them, and I enjoy spending time with them. I’ve been working my way towards letting go – sometimes all too slowly – for years, but I’ve never looked forward to having zero kids in my house.

This is an enormous shift in my life. I’ve dedicated my life for the last 15 years to raising and educating my children. And now that part of my life is over. It’s hard to believe it sometimes.

What will I do with myself?

Well, for one, I’m hoping I’ll write more. I’ve gotten out of the habit, and I’d like to get back into it. I had a book proposal that I, sadly, haven’t followed through on because life has been so hectic with me working part time for the last two years.

Years ago, I became a Lay Dominican, and that has provided me with direction in many ways. Our group has become an official chapter now, and I have duties as a member of the council.

I had a screening for an interpreter position last December, but failed the test. I plan on studying and trying again in December or January. Interpreting was my favorite job, and getting into video relay interpreting would be a way to get back into that world and do something I really enjoy.

And, finally, we’ve decided to get our passports this year. I’ve dreamed of going to Rome since I was about five years old. I had asked my father where the pope lived because I wanted to go visit him. I still want to go visit the pope, and having my passport is the first step in getting there.

Life is about to change. My baby graduates this month, and I’ll be the mother of two adult children. I’d better start planning for my new life. St. Monica, pray for me!

Copyright 2019 Christine Johnson