Life changes in more ways than those that we're acutely aware of after divorce.
When you divorce without children, the initial phases are emotional, financial and sometimes fairly deep, but you generally get through it, and go your separate ways. When you divorce with children, those phases stretch on forever.
One of the last of those 'phases' happens when the kids grow up and move out, leaving the custodial parent's home, having that parent go from having a house full of kids, to being alone, sometimes for the first time ever.
This is the 'phase' that I find myself in, and it's a really strange feeling.
At first, I didn't really give it much thought. Once I started thinking about it, I was actually excited. I no longer have to think about who I have to pick up and at what time, who's at home, did they lock the doors, who's out and not being able to fall asleep before they come home, among a million other things.
Just about everything about my life now is changing. Some of those changes are happening slowly, others at lightning speed. For example, I've downsized a time or two, and am about to do it again, hopefully for the last time, as my last child has recently left the nest. Everything inside my current dwelling screams "family," from the TV to the furniture, everything is 'family-sized' (which most of you will translate as 'oversized,' and you'd be right). I've managed to rid myself of most of the kids' stuff; scooters, snowboards, skis, bikes and the like, in order to 'lighten the load' en-route to a brand, spanking new adult life.
Other things too have changed: The car that I purchased specifically for the purpose of hauling kids to soccer, ballet, baseball and trips to Costco is no longer efficient or useful, unless I'm planning on buying enormous things that need to be hauled home, and as I said before, I'm over that.
No more $400 trips to Costco... that's another huge change.
I find myself browsing through flyers and online, looking to choose furniture that I like for ME now, as opposed to choosing what's best for kids who might spill, drip or get it dirty. I even find myself watching a TV show, and thinking, Wow... that house looks like it's got kids in it, based on the style or condition of the furniture. HAH!
Even the way that I date is different. Before, no one would meet the kids before we'd been dating six or eight months (sometimes a year. Don't judge). Now the kids (grown) are nagging me to introduce them after a couple of weeks! (It still doesn't happen that quickly, but it's not a year. Old habits die hard.) I don't worry about what time I get home, and if I feel like buggering off for the weekend, I can, because I don't have little kids, or even teenagers at home to worry about doing anything for.
I'm the type of person who really enjoys her own company, sometimes too much. But I have to admit, there does exist a little bit of an 'empty nest' feeling. There's a piece of me that misses having kids in the house... the laughter, the silliness, hearing the word "Mom" every three seconds. But I think that'll pass, too.
Most of my friends have said at least once, "Now you can do whatever you want to do!" And I'm well aware of that. The problem is, I want to do so damn many things, both personally and professionally. What do I do first?
It crept up on me much more quickly than I'd expected, but I'm enjoying pondering the possibilities over a glass of wine (or two), and I'm looking forward to moving slowly through it, and getting used to this 'new found freedom'.