By Donna Fiori

When I was first approached about writing a blog for moms of seniors in high school, I first thought of writing about the whole process of helping your student decide the best direction for them and all that is involved. After much thought, I decided to take a different approach and talk to you about what happens to us, the moms, when our children decide to leave the nest and move on to their next stage in life.

There are numerous resources available to the parents of high school seniors that will enable them to get on the right track for the proceeding years. However, one thing they don’t prepare us for is the day our children actually leave home. We all get that large lump in our throats just thinking about it, watching them walk across the stage on graduation day and then all the preparation for the move day in August.

I recall the commercial of the mom, dad, and son on the day the son left for college. The dad was at the car saying his goodbye and when the son asked where his mom was, the dad told him she was just too upset to come outside, when in reality, she was in the boy’s room measuring for her new hot tub. I truly thought my reaction to my children leaving would be a little similar – and boy was I wrong.

When we moved my son to college, my mother had to literally drag me out of his dorm room to get me out of there. I truly struggled with him not being around the house and not knowing his everyday life as I did when he was home. However, I still had one child five years younger that needed my attention and this helped keep me preoccupied.

Now, with the last one leaving, it was very different. The whole senior year and following summer is so full of events, shopping, to-do lists, etc., that the day truly does creep up on you. Before you know it, there you are standing in the dorm room again, trying to muster up the courage to say good-bye without the river of tears flowing! Be strong, as the ol’ saying goes! Then you get home – no car in the driveway. Their room – very neat, tidy and empty of their “stuff.” The house is so quiet you can even hear it squeak! Thankfully, with technology like webcams, texting and email, we can stay in touch with our children much better than the days of having one telephone for each floor of the dorm. Goodness that dates me!!

This brings us to the true question: Now what? For the past 20 plus years I have been mom first, no matter if I was working outside the home or not. That has truly been my daily life and I always made sure my family’s needs were met first. The idea of thinking about my needs and doing something for me seemed so foreign. I am not saying I never had the opportunity or take advantage of any outside activities other than my family but they were limited. I would rather choose to have dinner with my family on those few nights a week than do something for myself. The thought of all these new options just made me stop in my tracks and gave me the realization that “Yes, it IS time to think about me.” Actually, it’s way past that time. Although, who are we kidding? We never do this until now and even then, many of us still don’t!

I know that my job as mom is nowhere near complete. I still have lots of work to do for many years, yet I now have the opportunity to add something new to my life. What in the world could that possibly be? Many of the hobbies I had years ago were dropped due to the lack of time. Now, with less laundry, fewer games and events to attend, and only cooking for two, I think I can do this … but what? To my surprise, having the whole buffet to choose from actually made it difficult to decide what I really wanted to do. For those of you that saw the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes,” I had moments of power and found myself almost shouting “TA-WANDA”!

It has been a few months now and I am still searching. I am trying out new things, new groups, and so far I am enjoying them. I now have more time to volunteer for new organizations, and different exercise classes, just to name a few. The list is still growing with other things to try and it is a work in progress. My suggestion to you moms of seniors: Don’t let this catch you off guard as it did me. It is never too early to start your search for that special interest that could be out there waiting for you to discover. Have fun in your adventure for those new hobbies and new friends. Best wishes and “TA-WANDA” to you all!!

Are you getting ready to send a child to college this coming fall? Or are you getting ready to be an empty-nester? Chime in and tell us how you are working through this big change in your life!