Well, first is not exactly true, but it's the first since Riley started kindergarten. And it's the first time I'm beginning to understand Empty Nest syndrome.
Often, in the difficult times, the thought of the girls being out on their own was the goal that kept me going! Not that I don't love being their mother, but to me, the true pay-off of the role is knowing that they're out there, doing what I raised them to do. I love that image in my head of years from now, enjoying each other's company as adults, all of us. So to me, that Empty Nest thing just didn't make a lot of sense. Until this week.
Friday night, to be exact. We'd planned a family movie night. At the end of another busy week, it was going to be our chance to just chill together. I was really looking forward to that. But when I was picking the girls up from the Club, Sylvia asked if she could stay for Teen Night. I had no real reason to say no, so I let her stay.
Our family movie night isn't that important, but I still felt that sense of loss from her choosing to do something else. I don't blame her for it, and I know it wasn't personal, but it was that realization of her world expanding. She's started talking on the phone more, texting her friends more than me, and when I picked her up, she wasn't full of details of her night.
I know she was safe, I know it's perfectly normal for her to start having some privacy in her life. She isn't intentionally keeping things from me and she's entitled to not share everything with me. But there is that sense of a small hole in my heart. That there is going to be more and more in her life that doesn't include me.
When Riley and I got home without Sylvia that night, Riley chose to enjoy spending time in her room without her sister. She's getting older, too. She needs her own space that doesn't include me or her sister. Again, I don't begrudge her that. But I was prepared to enjoy a night with my family, and instead, I was left wondering what to do with myself.
Not to sound too maudlin, I didn't lose it or anything. I managed just fine, and we did enjoy some family time over the weekend. I know this is not the end of the world, merely an adjustment. It is just another step on the way to that ultimate goal of them having full lives as independent adults. And more proof that as soon as I think I've got this motherhood thing figured out, it ups and changes on me as the girls continue to grow.