Saturday, December 19, 2009

Empty Nest

Galen (aka The Puppy Nanny) left two days ago for a new life back in Utah. At age 21, I know it was his time but it is sad and I miss him. I have never been an adult without children. I was pregnant with my daughter at 18, had her at 19, and started at a community college when I was seven months pregnant with my second child at age 20.

I transferred to UC Berkeley with two toddlers in tow and plugged along -- year after year -- for a long time. We lived in the same university family housing that my parents did when I was born, and the kids had a rich, multi-cultural environment in that community. I remember Nicole coming home as a first grader and telling me that there was a new girl in her class, but she wasn't sure if she was Korean, Chinese, or Japanese; when I was six I had not known there was a difference!

Galen attempted to be born early, requiring bed rest at the end of my last semester as a masters' student. I had to take Incompletes that semester, and I missed both my own graduation and my sister's graduation from law school. A few years later I was able to wear my grandfather's academic robes (he was a professor at Berkeley) when I was awarded my Ph.D. from Berkeley -- I earned a degree for each of my three children :)

I was 33 years old when I finally finished the academic journey I had started at the local community college as a pregnant 20 year old high school drop-out. The kids and I grew up together, which is not really the best way to do it for anyone involved. Isn't hindsight great?! It can be if we let it be a teacher -- it is not helpful when we use it to beat ourselves up.

And then -- eleven years ago -- Kim and I began the process of blending our families. My older two were already out of the house and so it was just me and Galen -- but with Kim, I also got his three boys. Galen went from having me all to himself to getting a bit lost in the crowd, and I know that was hard for him but he is such a good sport (most of the time :).

And so this time we have spent in Montana -- by ourselves -- feels like the completion. Galen got the time he needed with just me -- the time he didn't get because we both opened our hearts to a new family that needed us -- and I got to have a really special time with my "baby".

Galen is a really amazing young man and I know I will continue to miss him (as will the dogs). I appreciate all that each of my children (all six!) have taught me, and will always treasure the time that we had together. But now I guess it is my turn -- I am still their mom but in a different way, and one I have never experienced before. This should be an interesting time in my life...

So until Kim moves up in May/June, it is just me here in the big Montana house -- well, me and six dogs, two cats and my herd of deer and one really cute chipmunk that I feed unsalted peanuts and have named Chippy; I hope to have pictures of Chippy at some point -- s/he is adorable but a little skittish! Here are some of the deer...

Mrs. Maize enjoying a nap...

The only reason Sydney plays with toys is to upset Zoey -- typical little sister.

Zoey and Cadi both love toys, and here is one they can enjoy together :)

And so ends a happy, special time with Galen -- Puppy Nanny and Great Son. I want to thank him for helping me transition to Montana, for letting me beat him at Scrabble, and for all his wonderful help with the dogs. I know he is going to miss them a lot...

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