We all have our markers for recognizing that our children have grown up and left the nest--taken that giant step into independence. I don't mean when they leave for college, although that's usually the first most common step along the way. I mean a way of noting that great big void in our lives. In families where the high school kids were active on athletic teams, it may be the freeing up of Saturday mornings--or the emptiness of a day without a soccer or basketball or baseball game to attend. Or the stillness of the house when you turn the key in the lock and there's no music bouncing off the walls and singing through every inch of the house.
I just read a moving take on The Moment in a Michelle Slatalla column in the New York Times. It came when she went up to her daughter's room to clean it up--this, after her daughter returned to college after winter break of her sophomore year. "I felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me," she writes. "Everybody makes a fuss when you send a child off to college for the first time. You're expected to feel pangs when you separate from a freshman." But, she goes on to write, "waving goodbye at the end of sophomore winter break turns out to be much harder." It is, she explains, the realization that as time goes by her daughter would start to "come home for shorter periods and call home less often, and that the center of gravity of her life has shifted away."