Ebb and Flow

13 Feb

There is an ebb and flow to family life.   Family life is a living breathing ever changing situation, but I did not realize that there were both small waves and big waves in the ebb and flow.  Until now.

When I was pregnant with my third child and with 2 toddlers in tow, my family built a house.  The style of the house and the floor plan were chosen with many of the features having to do with having 2, and soon to be 3, small children.  I had to be able to keep my eye on lots of things at once while doing lots of things at once.  I needed accessibility to diaper changing area, play area, meal preparation area…so many things to consider.  The floor plan was perfect for the expanding family and its needs.  The ebb and flow moved gently though the house and family.

The children grew and the tide gently changed.  Small ebbs and flows shift quietly though the household.  The children begin school.  Nap time becomes obsolete.  Strollers go into storage and bikes are scattered throughout the yard.  The children that never left my sight are allowed to turn the corner to play without my constant and vigilant protection.  I feel the wave of relief tinged with a wave of panic at not being able to see the children playing at all times.  But we must let our children learn who they are and make decisions because soon little decisions turn into big ones.

My children have always been like a little litter of kittens.  They are so close in age that they really don’t remember being without one another.  If one child was in the sandbox, everyone was.  When we sat to watch a movie, we got snacks and blankets to cuddle up together.  Bed time was the same for everyone.  Sometimes the older children got more “reading time” before lights out, but everyone pretty much put jammies on and went through the evening routine together.  The ebb and flow through the house was present, but seemingly slow moving.

Without warning, or at least it seems that way, a big wave has crashed into the only home my children have known.  The first college acceptance letter arrived.  My oldest child prepares to leave our cozy little nest.  We raise our children in baby steps, with all steps leading in the direction of getting our children out the door and stepping into their own lives.  Well, that is what my head tells me.  My heart tells me something entirely different.

The ebb and flow of the house will dramatically change with one child leaving.  Along with that child leaving, all the friends that have been hanging out contributing to the moving tide of our home will also be gone.  My litter of kittens is losing one of their own.  That means major reconfiguration of the building blocks of family life.  Did the small waves come in preparation of the big ones that are soon to be rolling through?  Time will tell.

Along with all of the pride I feel when I look at my children is that tiny fear as well.  Knowing that my child is once again going to turn that corner and leave my watch is scary.   I could not be more proud of my son preparing for college, and have every confidence that he will experience great success with this new change.  All of my decisions for the past 18 years have been based on having my children in my home, with family life in mind, and the tide I had become so accustomed to feeling.   The gentle roll.  The occasional white cap.  Now there is a tidal wave coming, or at least that is how it seems to me, and the flow will change.

My son is really excited at all of the changes this year will bring, as well he should be.  It is thrilling.  My head is ready for this change, my heart…not so much.  I feel the change coming, and my other children do as well.  Everyone feels this big wave coming.  We all need to prepare. With this big new wave crashing over our household, what will be left behind?   A whole new ebb and flow to family life.  I better get ready, grab my surf board and ride this wave!


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