Joie de Vivre is Bittersweet

On the Verge by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art (click to visit website)

We just finished spring break with the College Girl, an acronym she prefers to The Middle Child. Since she has headed off to the university, the four of us remaining have settled down to a quiet, smooth-running routine, something that was shot to pieces within the first hour of her dumping the dirty clothes bag two feet from the front door.

She made pancakes for breakfast, enough for the entire week. She baked cookies, one batch using up several bags of chocolate chips. She told funny stories, gave impersonations at the dinner table of assorted personages, brought us up to speed on celebrities and movies and social networking. She was noisy and messy and loud and rambunctious and impacting. It looked like we had carpeted the bathroom floor with damp towels.

And now that she is back in school, we are back to our quiet, smooth-running routine, which this morning, although very efficient, is just a bit too quiet. I have my bathroom floor back, but, oh, I do miss my College Girl.

I would say that this Empty Nest thing is not all it’s cracked up to be, but from what I’ve heard and read, it’s generally a bittersweet thing, so yes, it is what it’s cracked up to be.

It’s great to see the birds fly, great to see them experience life with all its tumbles and weeds. It’s great to have the chocolate chips last through the month, and it’s wonderful to walk through the front door without stumbling over muddy running shoes.

But it is immeasurably sad and empty to not have that laughing, exuberant, joyful bundle of energy near enough to hug and talk to in person. During the week, I made a coffee cake that by all measurements did not rise to the occasion. The College Girl took one look at it and burst out laughing — there is something about her laugh that makes the people around want to join in, even the person holding the wretched coffee cake.

I am fortunate — I had four children in all, and not only have two still in the nest, but a grandchild nearby. Without dwelling too much on the inevitable future, I enjoy the time that we share, squeezing out of it everything I can.

But to truly get myself through, I comfort myself with the thought that someday, when we’re all in a different place, we’ll be there forever, together, and we won’t ever have to say good-bye (while I find this a comfort, perhaps my children find it a daunting proposition; ah, well, I’ll always be their mom). Whether or not other people share this belief doesn’t matter to me; whether or not someone chooses to say I’m relying on a crutch or right on doesn’t matter to me; it’s where I am, it’s what I believe, and it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning and through the day.

I don’t know what Heaven’s like; none of us do. But one thing I do know — it’s a place where you never have to say Good-bye.

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
This entry was posted in Christian, Culture, Family, Growth, Humor, Life, Personal and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Joie de Vivre is Bittersweet

  1. mennogirl says:

    Thank you for your lovely comment on my little poem, I know what you mean about the ocean making one feel so small and yet so grand. What a lovely way to put it.
    Also your writing is quite beautiful, I’ll have to keep checking back 🙂

  2. Thank you, mennogirl. I enjoy your writing as well, and your freedom to express random thoughts. My random thoughts tend to be expressed to the driver in front of me, from the safety of the interior of my car.
    A lovely day to you.

  3. Sandie says:

    Thank you for the words of encouragement as I get ready to send my dear boy off to Germany. It is hard to believe that he has this amazing opportunity, as he is just 13, but I know he will be in good hands and will have a wonderful time. We are finishing the packing tonight, and probably tomorrow.

    your blog is lovely and your writing is wonderful Glad to have “met” you.!

    • How incredible that he has this opportunity — this is what we do as parents — we rejoice that our children have an opportunity to grow, even as we ache inside but do our best not to show it.

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