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It is what they are born to do: leave.
Up until the very moment they leave, as they are packing their bags and rushing to say goodbye to friends and family, you look forward to a clean house, a clean bathroom, and your pantry remaining stocked.
You look forward to a lower food bill, no more sticky mess on the stair railings, no more socks in weird places, and laundry not put away.
As you trip on shoes, lacrosse sticks, and fast food takeout bags, you murmur about the day they go and how nice it will feel to be alone. How nice it will be without a TV from the second floor drowning out the show you are trying to watch.
From the moment they leave, you will never run out of toilet paper, paper towels, or salt. Your house will look the same way as you left it—clean. Phone chargers will be in the same place consistently, and your phone will no longer buzz 37 seconds after you leave the house with a voice on the other end asking where you are going.
When you get home, that same voice will no longer be asking if you brought food home for them.
You look forward to this day, the day they leave, but then it comes and you want to vomit.
They prepare to go—it is what they were born to do. They are scared, but they are ready.
As you sit in the living room the night before they leave, listening to them talk, you remember. You remember when they were little and how they would talk, then fight. You remember what it feels like to have them all together under the same roof, and warm.
But then, in the same second that you remember, reality hits you, and you realize you have no idea when you will all be in the same house together again. Suddenly the snack wrappers in between the couch cushions, the juice box wrappers on the floor, and the empty toilet paper rolls no longer annoy you because those are reminders of them. Of their presence in your life and how much you will miss them as they go.
They go and you can’t stop it.
You can’t stop them going or growing. Instead you have a front row seat to your heart breaking as they pack up their car, check the house one last time, and then drive away.
After they back out of the driveway and head off to begin their new lives, you wonder if what you have taught them will be enough.
Did anything stick?
Will they wash their butts?
As you sit in the silence of your now empty and perfectly clean house, you realize your parenting will be tested now more than ever before, because as much as you want them to stay, you want them to be secure enough to move on without you.
They go, and when they do, they will take parts of you with them. You will adjust because that’s what we do as parents. We do what’s best for them and that means letting them go.
And sometimes they take the dog with them.