July 8

My youngest is now gone on her mission’s trip. She texted at 2:30 am to let me know their flight landed safely in Canada. I’m proud of her and excited for her; this will be something she’ll grow from and remember for the rest of her life. I’m thankful they made it there and am looking forward to hearing all about it when she gets back home. In the meantime, I’m faced with an empty house for most of the month. I have to admit, I don’t like it. Not that I have a problem being home alone; I’ve had plenty of days by myself. There just seems to be something different about it this time. Maybe it’s the extended period of time. Maybe it’s the fact that for the first time since I’ve been on my own, I’m getting a taste of what it will be like for me soon. On my own. Completely. My oldest is going away to college. My youngest has only a couple of years left of high school. Assuming my circumstances don’t change, I will be living by myself without anyone else here even part-time. Well, except for my cat. And while that isn’t the end of the world, of course, it’s uncomfortable for me. It’s reminding me that I’m at the point where I’m losing pieces of what I considered my life and I’m not sure yet how to fill the voids. And I didn’t expect to be faced with this alone. It dawned on me recently that if I had stayed with my girls’ father, we would have been married for 20 years this year. And while I don’t have too many regrets, the one I do have is not being able to celebrate a 20 year anniversary.  Or 25 or 40. Not that I wish I were still married to my ex. Not at all. But I do wish I had figured the relationship thing out sooner along the way. I remember when I was first engaged, my dad got upset with me for not being 100% focused on my upcoming wedding. I was still in college and trying to maintain a social life. He told me I didn’t need friends and parties anymore because I was getting married and that should be my priority. And while I don’t agree with his philosophy, the thought crossed my mind after he passed away that he didn’t get to see me in a successful marriage. So for me, it seems like my failure. And as I think about how quickly time passes, and how short life is, I wonder if I’ll have another opportunity at it. When I look at the young couples I know just starting out, buying their first houses and having babies, I sometimes wish for a do-over. I’d do it better if I had a second chance at the first time. But I’ve seen The Butterfly Effect. Do-overs are impossible without terrible consequences. And while I may have failed thus far in this one thing, I have succeeded in others. Like my amazing kids. Both of whom are spending a good portion of their summer vacation helping others. I’m trying to accept that my life is evolving and not worry about the future. I know it will figure itself out. And I’ll survive this month in a quiet house.

June 21

My oldest daughter has been in North Carolina visiting her grandparents for several weeks now and will be there for most of the summer. She decided this year she wanted to go and get a summer job there, but I think she mostly wanted to help out her grandmother a bit since her grandfather has Alzheimer’s. I knew I’d miss having her gone so long, especially since she’ll be leaving for college once summer is over. But I’m proud of her for choosing to spend her summer that way, and I’m glad my kids have a close connection to their grandparents. When they were younger, they used to spend part of their summer with my parents as well. My youngest will also be gone most of July, first on a mission’s trip to Canada and several western states and then on to her grandparents. And this weekend she’s been gone helping out with a fundraiser for the missions trip. It’s a garage sale at a friend’s house on the other side of town (her friend is also going on the trip). She could have come home in the evenings, but of course it’s more fun to stay over. So when it came time to come home, she’d text and ask if she could just stay. And knowing she needed to be back early the next morning, it did make some sense. But tonight I teased her about ditching me again for the third night in a row. She apologized, but I told her I was kidding. In reality, I’m proud of her as well. She’s doing her part to raise money for her trip, and as usual, she’s not complaining about it. So once again, tonight I’m thankful for the fact that I have some pretty special kids.