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I'm Becoming an Empty Nester and I'm Not Ready

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I keep recounting the time on my fingers, and every day, the answer is a little shorter than the last. In less than nine months my oldest son will officially be 18 years old.

How the hell did that happen?

In less than six months, my youngest son will turn 16 and begin driving. I guess I thought I was ready for all of this, but it seems that lately, I'm in mourning. My boys both have one foot already out the door, and soon enough, our home will be devoid of all the little truths that whisper "kids live here."

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I'm not ready.

A year ago, I used to complain that my sons were messy or forgetful. Now, weirdly enough, I treasure these moments as evidence that I am still a mother in the process of raising two children.

I'll miss the laundry that never gets put away. The beds that never get made.The tripping over backpacks and sneakers that are tossed in the most inopportune areas of the house. The bathroom sink littered with their cologne-scented hygiene products.

The dirty dishes that never get rinsed. The giant pots and pans I need to make enough food to feed them. The grocery lists with unhealthy staples like chocolate cereals and frozen pizzas. The excuses for why they're up so late past bedtime. The panicked texts saying they forgot their lunch, or homework, or team uniform at home. The arguments over forgotten chores, or accidentally blurted curse words.

I spent too much time when they were younger waiting for them to get older. I suppose it was my way of wanting things to be easier, of looking forward to having a break from the constant drum of raising toddlers.

Believe it or not, I already see how much I will miss all of these things. I spent too much time when they were younger waiting for them to get older. I suppose it was my way of wanting things to be easier, of looking forward to having a break from the constant drum of raising toddlers.

Then, I blinked. I blinked and a decade and a half passed. I blinked and when I opened my eyes, my sons had turned into young men — ready to take on the world.

But I'm not ready.

I can't slow down their impending adulthood any more than I could slow down a giant wave — rather, I just have to let it crash down over me.

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My husband has been experiencing some of the same emotions. He's a big, tough Marine during the day, but when he's at home with our family, he's a bucket of mushy nostalgia. I don't blame him. Like me, he recognizes all the time we've lost and how fast each day seems to move.

The only thing I can do is enjoy it, and enjoy them. I know that the day my sons leave home will be one of the hardest days of my life. I'm not ready, not by a long shot. But I don't have a choice whether or not they grow up.

It was just yesterday when he returned home from Iraq and the boys were still in elementary school, wasn't it? Now we're talking about which car to get our oldest for his graduation present, and debating whether or not to keep him on our auto insurance policy once he finishes high school.

I have a feeling that we will close our eyes again, and the next time we open them, our sons will be fathers themselves.

I'm not ready!

All I have is right now. I have today, a morning where my sons (once again) overslept, and I rushed to make sure they were awake and ready in time for school. I have tomorrow when they'll need me to pack their lunch; and the next day, when I'll give one of them a ride home from practice. I'll have the weekend, where they'll sheepishly pull out a moldy lunch container from their backpack and hand it to me with a smile.

The only thing I can do is enjoy it, and enjoy them. I know that the day my sons leave home will be one of the hardest days of my life. I'm not ready, not by a long shot. But I don't have a choice whether or not they grow up. I just have the chance to love them all their lives. I can do that, even when they're not living under my roof.

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