When I wrote Fluker, Party of Three-ish, I told you that I’d be back with more of the story. So, here I am. (If you haven’t already read that post, you may want to start there.) Here I am facing the same feelings that I faced when I was preparing to send my firstborn off to college. And no matter how much easier I thought it would be the second time around, truth is, it’s not. As much as Cordell and I have been saying that we are ready for the empty nest phase, it’s simply not true. We are not okay with this. (But do us a favor and indulge us when we say it. It’s part of the healing process.)
The Second Time Around
Go with me for a minute back to 2003. That’s the year that I became a mom for the second time. Those of you who have more than one child can understand that while you’re very excited to be becoming a mother again, there’s just something that allows you to be a bit more at ease with your second born.
That pressing and urgent need to purchase every single baby gadget on the store shelves isn’t there. And even though my babies were different genders, I saved as many of my oldest’s baby items as possible.
Little things that had me frantic with the first baby didn’t get me as riled with my second. I’m not even sure if my firstborn could even cry because the minute he began to whimper, I was right there to scoop him up. No way would a “good mother” just sit idly by while her baby cried, right? By the time the second baby came around (albeit 23 months later), I knew for certain that a little crying was not going to break the baby.
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It’s Her Time to Shine
I won’t bore you with all the ins and outs of learning to be a mother of two; at least not in this story anyway. Just know that there were lots of adventures along the way and that both of my children have brought me so much joy. I do, however, want to take a moment to gush over my second born the same way I did for my oldest in Fluker, Party of Three-ish.
When Kaylen (our baby) came along, she truly changed our family. Not only did I have to learn to be the mother of two, but I also had to learn how to be the mother of a girl. A girl with a personality as big as the sky from the first moment we met her. That same personality that makes her uniquely her and the one I’m confident will take her very far in life.
She’s Got This
Kaylen is and always has been very independent. As a little girl, I can remember her always wanting to do things herself and always being eager to succeed at something that was too difficult for her. Not only is Kaylen independent, but she also wants to help those around her. I can remember an elementary school teacher calling me because Kaylen, during a test, had to let the student in front her know that he wasn’t doing his work right. She’s also the one that when someone told her brother that he couldn’t sit in a certain seat on the bus informed that same someone that her brother would, indeed, be sitting in that seat.
Kaylen isn’t much for nonsense. Never has been. She has to know who, what, when, where, why, and how about every situation, even those that have absolutely nothing to do with her. I like to call her inquisitive, like me. But the Fluker men (my husband and son) call it nosy. Go figure.
Her “need to know” characteristic has been the cause of several noses in the corner, trips to the principal’s office, and Friday nights at home with the parents. But, that same need-to-know characteristic has yielded results such as excellent marks on her report card since kindergarten, several leadership positions in school and community organizations, and multiple scholarship offers to various colleges. We are proud of her.
It’s Getting Real
We are especially proud of how Kaylen has grown up and matured over the past two years. Kaylen has navigated her senior year of high school during a global pandemic. And, she’s done it like a champ. In fact, she finished all of her graduation requirements a semester early, all while working 20-30 hours a week at the local daycare. Might I add that she navigated her senior year of high school sans her biggest two supporters: her grandparents. Kaylen likes to joke that I think her brother hung the moon. Well, her grandparents think that she created the moon. I’m pretty sure her dad thinks that, too.
Now, it’s time to send Kaylen off to college. We’ve spent her entire life preparing her for this moment. And while we have sent one child off to college already, we still aren’t quite sure that we’re ready to send this one off, too. Though we know that we’ve done our absolute best to get her ready for life in the real world, a part of us wants her to remain our baby girl.
Different Year, Same Story
So here we are again, exactly two years later, at this very same intersection. Yet, we are no more prepared than we were the first time. Over the past few weeks, Cordell and I have been fist-bumping and chest-bumping and giving ourselves all sorts of celebratory high fives that we’ve managed to get not one, but two whole children out of high school and off to college, with very little incident.
But there’s still something in the back of our minds that sparks our late-night conversations and mental trips up and down our parenting checklists. We try to play every single possible incident she might encounter in our minds to see if we have reviewed that page in our (imaginary) parenting guide to make sure that we’ve fully prepared her for it. We know that we have not. We know that we can not. We know that there is no way possible that we can get her ready for every single problem that she might face. Especially not in this crazy, unpredictable world.
Everything Will Be Okay
At that moment, we realized that our parents didn’t prepare us for every single incident that we encountered in college; it’s impossible. But somehow, we made it through. At that moment, we realized that everything will be okay. Or maybe it won’t. Either way, we’ll be right here, ready to do what we’ve always done: provide, protect, love, guide, and whatever else she needs for us to do.
Until then, we’ll be hanging out in our empty nest doing all the things that you empty nesters have told us to do. Our nest may be empty, but our hearts are full.
Go conquer the world, Baby Girl! We love you!