It was my entire fault. I admit I always encouraged my children to fly from the nest. I just didn’t realize it would take so much wine, I mean time, to get over the fact they both took me up on my suggestion. Like really took me up on my suggestion; they didn’t move around the block or around the same city, they moved around the world to Europe.
At my urging, Kyla chose to approach her International Business degree in Holland, Utrecht more precisely. That was in 2007. Of course, I was forlorn sending my youngest off to unknown territory.
It was only a year later and Cory followed her lead and moved to Rotterdam in 2008 to pursue his degree in International Business. Why Holland, half way around the world? Because I have my dual citizenship with Nederlands and thus my DNA have their dual citizenship with the Nederlands. Plus, who wouldn’t jump on the opportunity to live in Europe and travel? I honestly couldn’t blame them and did everything in my power to help them make it happen.
I was dreading coming off that flight returning to Edmonton early October 2008. I was in Europe for 6 weeks helping Cory get set up, as I did the previous year assisting Kyla. I knew there was nobody waiting for me at home. (Save the dogs.) Nobody to cook for, nobody who needed my help, nobody who would phone at 2 am looking for a ride because all the cabs are busy, nobody leaving full glasses of milk on the coffee table. Wayne was with me, so even he wouldn’t be there awaiting my arrival home.
I was only 45 and an empty nester. Being a career mom, never mind a career to fall back on, I didn’t even have a job to fill my days. It didn’t take long for the melancholy to rear its ugly head and stay for a visit. It didn’t help it was autumn, the season of endings – the season that proceeds the dreaded long winters in Edmonton. The house felt cold and empty and hollow and it was only October.
We tried selling the house to either downsize or join them but we hit it exactly at the market drop. The market was flooded and nothing was selling. Nothing. The option of joining them was out of the question. The option of sitting around crying in my wine and eating chips was always at the ready and eager to assist.
I always wanted to be a stay at home mom. It never really occurred to me to try a career. Sure, I’ve had jobs over the years, some with somewhat of a progression into a career but they were mostly just jobs and I always went back to being a stay at home mom, right to the end. I still am, actually.
I was missing the kids more than I was admitting. They have been under my wing for my entire adult life. (I was 22 when Cory came along.) I didn’t know adult life without fussing over one child or the other. I’ll admit, I was pretty lonely in that big house all by myself. Sure it stayed clean but I would have traded 10 pairs of shoes scattered at the back door for the clean echoes any day.
One day I read an article in the paper that the housing market was showing signs of life. Then a house up the street that was for sale all winter finally sold. That was all I needed, the real estate agent was at the house within a few days. With no hesitation at all, up for sale the house went in early May. May, then June, July, August, September all passed with not one offer or bite. The listing expired and I was ready to hunker down into another long, lonely winter in Edmonton. At least this winter I had something to focus on – losing the ‘few’ bags of chips that were solidly enjoying life hovering around my hips.
Then the phone call came. Our neighbour’s friend was interested in looking at the house. One thing leads to another and we had closing date of December 10th, 2009. I was moving to Europe on December 11th, 2009 to be closer to the kids. I’m sure they weren’t half as thrilled as I was; they move half way around the world to stake their independence and their parents follow them. Yay.
We didn’t settle in next door, we chose to head towards Spain to wait out the winter and make further plans, since we didn’t really have any and still don’t. But Spain is right next door, in context. It’s a four-hour flight away vs. a day long flight and 3 days jet lag. And I got to use my get out of jail free card just 2 short months into our extended stay in Europe.
Cory’s birthday is February 6th. Wayne left for work on February 2nd, leaving me behind in Spain to hold down the villa. Really, was I going to give up this opportunity to see Cory on his birthday when I’m only a couple of hours away? Not on your life. Also, Cory is off to Thailand for two weeks so it’s a bonus to see him before he heads off. Plus, I needed to come to Holland to get some paperwork done on my residency, so might as well get that done as well. Then it turns out that Kyla needs help looking for a new apartment and asked if I could go with her. My heart was singing; I was wanted and needed. Paxil and I were packed and on our way to Holland for the week.
Sure, your husband needs you and the dogs definitely need you but there is something so satisfying when your adult children still need you to be the mom. Still need your help, still value your help, still look up to you. It makes all those spilled glasses of sticky juice worth the whole roll of paper towel; the never-ending sleepless nights seem like bonus life hours, the nonstop weekends spent at the rink actually missed and the days of worries vanish. Just where the hell did the last 24 years go, anyways?
And that’s why I’m here. That’s why we are doing the as-long-as-we-want adventure in Europe. Sure, the food is great; the fine wine is ‘value priced’, the history amazing and the scenery stunning. But none of it compares to STILL being wanted and needed by the 2 most important treasures in my life. As long as they are here, I’ll be here, close but not so close. I ain’t missing them at all.