Story by Cheryl Gottlieb Boxer
Today I started walking for exercise. Not because I want to lose weight (although it would be nice). Not because my cholesterol is too high (it is). Not because my doctor told me I should (he did). I’m walking because in 10 short months my daughter is leaving for college, and my nest will be empty.
This reality dawned on me as I escorted my senior drum major onto the football field for senior night. I shouldn’t really say it “dawned” on me. I mean, I’ve been hyper aware that this will be her last year home since I began my teary countdown the day she was born.
But under those bright stadium lights it all became so crystal clear. So easy to see.
So I’m walking to remember. Because in the busy and hectic and noisy days of mothering infants then toddlers then teens and now young adults, I forgot MYSELF.
My world became about them. Their sadness made me unhappy. Their happiness brought me joy. Their accomplishments were my celebrations.
So I’m walking to remember. Who I was before I was a wife, a mother, a caretaker, a worrier. Who I was in the quiet empty spaces.
I’m not walking to reinvent myself. I’m literally taking baby steps. Hoping simply to readjust. Recalibrate. To focus on myself for the first time in a long time.
Because maybe this next stage of parenting isn’t about the nest. About whether it’s full or empty or just a temporary layover before the next big “thing.” Maybe this stage of parenting is about the flight. Their’s and mine. About remembering where I’ve been and where I still want to go.
So I’m walking to remember. Because I truly believe I’m still young enough to recapture some of my old self.
And I know for sure I’m not too old to experience something new again.