The back to school images on social media recently are both heart warming and heart breaking, especially for empty nesters. We are happy, and even somewhat nostalgic, seeing photos of youngsters slightly stooped over with overloaded backpacks, smiling at the camera with butterflies in their bellies. We recall the years gone by when it was us taking the photos with butterflies of our own. We delight in your time, as we fondly recall ours.
Our 20-year-old son also left for school this week-his third year of college. We were lucky enough to share the summer with him as he completed an internship and lived with us in Omaha. Sadly, that was probably the last long-term shared housing we will experience as he creeps toward adulthood and independence. This year Alex has an off-campus apartment, is buying his own groceries, doing his own cooking and managing his own finances. Yes, we’ve worked hard as parents to get him to this point and we celebrate this milestone. However, we’d secretly like more time, and some days we even long for the four-year-old of past to lovingly wrap his arms around our necks and joyfully bounce on our laps. This is especially true for my husband and family provider, Ken, who has had less time with Alex than I have through the years. As the departure day drew near, Ken was looking for more hours in the day to spend with Alex and he’s felt his absence since-as any good father would, and does.
Each year I witness the growing bond between father and son. With slightly rebellious teenage years behind them, Ken and Alex are inching toward equals and share business and leisure interests. Dinner table conversation is dominated by talk of micro-economics, insurance lingo and sports standings. While I’m not enamored by the content, I’m joyfully celebrating the maturation and growing bond. It’s what every mother longs for-a connection between her children and their father, and herself.
Yes, this week lots of children made their way back to school. Here, ours flew the coop and while we celebrate, we also mourn, gladly and happily, if that even makes sense.
What have you felt and experienced recently with the abundance of back-to-school photos on social media? Share. If you’re an empty nester, does the longing for years gone by this time of the year ever fade?
Copyright August 2015 Linda Leier Thomason