Our children keep us connected to what’s going on in the world even after they’ve left us with an empty nest and are making their own way in that world.
My youngest child, my 19-year-old daughter, left one year ago to attend a college that is 27 hours away from home, leaving me with an empty nest.
I have written previously about the pain of adjusting to an empty nest, missing the sights, sounds, and even the smells of a house full of your children and their friends.
Despite the challenges that accompanied raising an adolescent, I miss other aspects of having a teenager in the house. I realized I have no exposure to new music now. My music tastes will always remain frozen, with nothing newer than 2016 when my daughter left home. I don’t think I have anything newer than the Hamilton soundtrack which my daughter played for me while we were visiting colleges. I am completely behind in current slang now as well. I’ve always been able to wow my colleagues with my knowledge of cool terms like “TBH,” “IRL,” “problematic fave,” “discourse,” and many more.
On a more serious note, from my daughter, I learned what white privilege means. She opened my eyes to the white privilege I hadn’t realized I had. Her explanation changed the way I view the world forever. She explained heteronormativity and the harm it can cause the LGBTQ community. I had no idea. From the mouths of babes indeed.
My daughter rarely calls. We text almost daily (although never as frequently as this mom would like). Yesterday morning she called me out of the blue to discuss a decision she needed to make.
Who knew a phone call could make my heart swell so much? As soon as I heard her voice, my face broke into the biggest smile that went all the way up to my eyes.
And what parent doesn’t want to be the person to whom their child turns when they need advice?
However, this phone call was so much more than that. We stayed on the phone for 2.5 hours. We discussed her issue, but we also talked about the politics of language in the LGBTQ community, Trump’s subtly rude and dismissive comments about a National Women’s Hockey League player, her classes, childhood memories, and more.
This long, rambling phone conversation is the closest I can get to having her at home again without her actually being here. I can put her on speaker phone as I go about my work and it almost feels like having her here, minus the teenager smells and the ability to hug her, both of which I miss terribly.
As she and I both move on to new phases in our lives, yesterday reminded me that she and I will always have that connection. We can always fall back into the ebb and flow of our conversation that started when she was born 19 years ago and continues today. I like to think it brings comfort to us both. I know it does for me.
I hope she and other young adults who have flown the coop know how much those long phone conversations can mean to a parent. So if you haven’t done so lately, call your mother. One phone call could make her entire day.