Thursday, August 31, 2017

And the ride ends here ...

Well, I've finally lost the baby weight. All 120 pounds of it. And it only took me 18 years, five months and 22 days.

Earbaby is now at Her State U, thousands of miles away. And my husband and I, who more or less centered our lives around her since we knew she was on her way into making us a family, are empty nesters.

And I must admit, I'm not devastated.

The thing is, EB has been separating from us for a couple of years now. She was never much of a homebody with us. Her homebodiness meant being holed up in her room by herself, texting with her friends, watching Netflix, eating, napping, everything, by herself with the door closed. I've joked to people it's no different now that she's gone. If we close the door to her room, it's like nothing has changed.

EB spent practically every waking hour this past summer looking for the next party. She didn't want to spend any time at all with us, although she and I did get in one scary movie together before she left. She was almost manic in "wanting to spend time with my friends." Even when two cousins from Chicago came to visit for a couple of days, even when another cousin, who lives in China, came for a few days, EB was more hit and miss than sit and visit. Her friends took priority over everything and everybody, including friends that she had only recently made.

Now I understand all of this is normal behavior, that their friends become the priority and why should she spend any time with her parents? Why sit down and have a meal when you can grab what you want, go upstairs and shut yourself off and eat while you search online for some sketchy party somewhere in town?

EB did somewhat enjoy her first real job, although she got paid that last week to do nothing. Literally. The kids' camp ended the week before the program, so there were a couple of days, she was told to stay home, because there was nothing for them to do. She only called out sick one day because she just didn't feel well, but really, this particular summer job program, funded by the city, didn't do much for promoting a strong work ethic. I hope she realizes the rest of the world doesn't work that way. For most of us, if we don't work, we don't get paid. She's had 18 years of watching her parents work for a living, so I'm hoping that's the lesson she will eventually learn.

But the summer of endless partying finally came to an end. EB actually showed a lot less maturity as the time approached to leave. She wouldn't settle in and pack. When the last night came, she stuffed one suitcase full of shoes, and packed so few of her clothes, you would have thought she was leaving for a few weeks instead of a few months. She worried more about makeup and hair products than she did basic clothing like jeans, shirts and tops. When she unpacked at her dorm room, her closet looked woefully thin. She will be getting a big box with the clothes she will need for the fall next week.

We spent nearly the entire weekend at Target, Sally's Beauty Supply, and Bed, Bath and Beyond, all for those thousands (of dollars worth) of things to make a dorm room home. We met her roommates -- she has three of them, and went to dinner with the family of one. Everyone seems nice, friendly, and even though EB was overwhelmed with the newness of the experience, she bonded quickly with the one roommate in the same partition and connected with another friend from her orientation.

Our final night together was the day of the Solar Eclipse. Her dad and I went off to see it and she went with her friends. This was such a big deal, with her school close to the 100 percent path of the phenomenon, they cancelled classes that day and organized trips for the students.
She met us for our last dinner together and our last trip for odds and ends. She cried a little when we said goodbye. I didn't. I'm not sad. We will be seeing her in October for Family Weekend and she will be home in November and then December.

So her first class was the following Tuesday and it was the Modern Dance 2 class, which was kind of like an audition. She would be judged by whether she could keep up. She told us she had a tough time following the fast choreography and wasn't sure she would be allowed in. But of course she was. She also is looking to try out for a hip hop dance team. She worried that she never has had to come with her own choreography, and was already talking herself out of auditioning, until she talked to the team president, who encouraged her to try out.

As for my husband and me, we have our own time of transition. He will be leaving his job tomorrow after more than 30 years. He hasn't decided where his next journey will take him, and like I did a couple of years ago, will have a year's time to decide. He isn't ready to retire, and he now understands why when I left that job I didn't want "a retirement party." We'll see what happens in our lives next, as we rediscover what it is like being a couple without being day-to-day parents. As a night worker, I've always had the luxury of having the place to myself during the day when he was at work and Earbaby was at school. Now, he'll be around the house during the day. I wonder how long it takes to drive each other insane. I've told him my new blog will be Wild ride with My Earbaby's Daddy.

No matter what he, and we, decide to do in our next chapter, this one is over. I have entertained writing occasional updates when we visit EB, or she comes home, but I hope I'll resist. It's been interesting, entertaining, vexing, frustrating, disappointing, and exhilarating to try and rear this child into adulthood. Her time, mistakes, good and bad decisions, and consequences, are now her own. It hasn't always been the best of times and it hasn't always been good. But it's been a great adventure and Earbaby, I only want what's best for you, and wish you only the best. But you've left our nest. We love you, little bird. Fly safely. And soar.

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