By the time you read this, I'll be headed south to visit my son and daughter-in-law. It's been about three months since I've seen them, and though we talk often and stay updated through our respective blogs, it's not the same as being with them.
My son left home fairly young - he was just 18 when he moved to Orlando to go to college back in 1998, and he's not lived at home again since. As most mothers can attest, those first few "empty nest" months are horrible. Lucky me, I was able to make frequent trips to Orlando to visit. Gradually, I got used to having him far away, and spending holidays apart - I can't say I like it, but I've grown accustomed to it. And now, there's not only just my son to miss, but my daughter in law as well, who quickly won all our hearts with her gentle nature and loving ways.
My husband and I have always lived near our parents, and it never occurred to us to move far away from home. We're both only children, and possibly that's why we felt (and still feel) an extra burden of responsibility regarding our parents. So we chose our first home to be near our parents, and we've stayed here, mostly to remain near them. And now that they're older, their need for us is more acute than ever.
We bought our second home, the one in Florida, to be near our children, thinking that perhaps we might retire there someday in the not too distant future. But things change. My son and daughter in law are very young themselves. They're making new decisions about their lives, which is as it should be. Their careers allow them to the flexibility to work anywhere in the world, and they should take full advantage of that opportunity.
Along with many of our friends, we're at an awkward stage in our lives. Not quite ready to retire, but tired of working. No longer responsible for children, yet caring for elderly parents. Not as healthy as we once were, and starting to feel the pull of time to enjoy life while we still can. Longing for change, and not quite knowing how to make it happen. But there's one decision we have made. Our next home will be where we want it to be ~ don't know where that is, just yet, but we'll be looking.
Meanwhile, I'm winging my way to the Sunshine State. I'm ready for some rest, relaxation, and some quality time with my family.
PostScript: As I think about visiting my son, I am reminded again of Darlene and her son Mark. Darlene has been visiting Mark in ICU for the past week, as he struggles valiantly to recover from injuries sustained in a horrible car accident. Every day my thoughts are with her, Mark, and her family.