For the past 20 something years, our kids have gone with us on every trip out of town. Every single one. Since they were old enough to splash the minnows in the bucket, they were on the boat with us while we fished. They sat in deer stands at dawn and dusk. They rode in canoes in the moonlight. We saddled them up on horses and took them riding in the woods. They sat next to us in golf carts and helped steer around the block. I don't care what we did, we just packed them up and swept them along on this crazy ride we call our lives.
Now they are all grown up and they don't need to be tucked into the back seat of the car anymore, with favored stuffed animals in their laps and a TV and VCR strapped precariously to the center console. I don't have little hands to hold while standing under the starry sky and watching a full moon rise. No tiny ears to whisper ghost stories to while the thunder booms outside our camper. No more naked toddlers dashing up the beach. No more little voices begging to go for a swim, go for a hike, go fishing, roast marshmallows, play flashlight tag or fly a kite. "Mom, look at me.... Mom, mom, mom......."
Louie and I are at the lake and the kids are not. They're at home, finishing up their last week of school. Yesterday was a picture perfect day. It was hot and sunny, with huge billowing white clouds floating across the sky and a gentle breeze rippling the water. I paddled out to the mouth of our bay and sat in the sun, while tears leaked out of my eyes. No Chablis paddling next to me in her pink kayak, moaning because I'm getting tanner faster than she is. Tony's computer stuff isn't strewn all over the cocktail table in the front room. Televisions weren't blasting from 2 different rooms. I gathered up some firewood, but somehow it's not the same. Usually Chablis is tagging along next to me, and I'm stacking logs in her arms. Tony is always trailing us in the gator so we can toss the wood into the back of it. Later tonight I'll be forced to start the fire by myself. That's usually Tony's favorite job when we're at the lake. Making s'mores tonight just won't be as much fun.
A new chapter is starting in my life. Chablis graduates from college at the end of the month. Tony just finished his first year of college. I've spent 22 years raising 2 great kids. I tried really hard to teach them right from wrong, to trust and believe in God, to fend for themselves. It's been 22 years of being a mom and training them for the point in their lives where they will leave us, spread their wings, make their own way. I think we did a good job. I know I have to let them fly.
But that doesn't mean I have to like it.
I know they have to grow up and do their own thing. Please don't tell me it's part of life, or that new things are waiting for me around the corner. I know I'll soon have the freedom to do what I want, when I want. I know they will still come to the lake when they can. But for today, well, I just want to cry.