It seems to me that life can be divided into beginnings and endings.
Child #1 leaves for graduate school. Child #2 leaves for new apartment and sophomore year in college. Dog #3 arrives to distract mother of said children #1 and #2.
I can label these changes as Chapters of Life, Developmental Stages, Academic Calendars, Empty Nest. Every beginning has a start and a finish, and a middle. Every ending has a start and a finish, and a middle. All these beginnings and endings just get all jumbled up inside me.
The scary part about this emptying phase of life is that, although the endings are pretty evenly distributed, all the beginnings appear to belong to someone else. The kids get to start a new academic year with all its new courses, classmates and teachers. The kids get to set up new apartments and define new homes. The husband gets to start making preparations for a career change, because the kids are nearing the self-sufficient stage. The puppy even gets to start a new adventure with two great pals.
Where are my beginnings?
I found a clue by observing my dogs.
Luci has reached that stage in dog life where the comfort zone contracts. Garbage cans are dog-eating monsters. Car rides are unnerving sensory exercises. Acorns dropping from oak trees are projectiles from dog-hating gods. I deliberately set off with a leashed Luci every day investigating yet another evil-doer; I gently but firmly insist that she face her fear, and realize that not only will she survive to bark at another day BUT she will discover beginnings of new adventures. Puppies need good handlers to bring out their best instincts, and we mommies-letting-go need handlers/friends to bring out our best instincts. I need to find someone to be on the other end of the leash, to pull gently but insistently toward my safe new beginnings.
Luci knows how to ask for help, with big dark chocolate pools of eye.
I have words, and I need to give them voice. I need only ask for help, ’cause my emptying is finished and my beginnings have begun.