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Many weanings

I often tell new mothers about the “many weanings” a woman goes through and that weaning a child from breastfeeding is just one of many. Now I’m going through another weaning myself: as of this week, all my children will be living on their own.

My oldest son lives back east with two roommates in a rental house. My youngest son is moving into a rental house with three friends. My middle son is moving to a house his girlfriend bought. They’ll be fixing up, painting, installing, redecorating, and clearing the land for many months. I may bring over a KFC bucket and a bottle of wine once in a while, and they may even deign to come over to my house for an actual home-cooked Sunday dinner, but things will never be quite the same. The intense living-together time, where people get up in the morning and sit at a kitchen table together, the time when people sleepily wish each other good night and then good morning again: that time has passed for me.

Young men moving out from parents’ homes, moving on, and becoming self-reliant are all part of the natural order of things. But this week was also my last to feel day-to-day needed. I’m supposed to be celebrating this empty nest, relishing the freedom to use rooms in new ways as I please, gorging on all this time to myself. But being useful, involved, and part of an active live-in family was a dream job. This sudden quiet strangles my soul.

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