Hazel Kassel Brief
Living Mindfully in Israel

A September 1 not found in the parenting manual

I should have been home more (I shouldn't have taken on that extra work), because now the kids are officially gone, and I am here with an empty house
Mindful Living in Israel

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I really tried not to go upstairs to his room to see the bags.

I knew they would be lined up across the back wall.

Somewhat organized.

Somewhat disorganized…

That’s just the way he packs.

As I passed by, I tried not to look into the room. But curiosity overtook me and just as I suspected…they were there…lined up on the back wall…guitar, large backpack, large plastic garbage bag with sheets and comforter, and one extra Rami Levi bag. Not sure what he had put in the Rami Levi bag…but clearly something worth schlepping….

My last child is leaving home……the thought hits me like a very heavy weight.

I stop in the doorway to take it all in. The slightly cleaned up room (remembering a lot of his things are already packed!), music playing and my youngest son, now 18, looking around and wondering what else he should pack.

I glance up, our eyes meet…I feel a twinge in my heart…my eyes well up…he gives me the look I need to see which says:

Don’t worry…I got this….I’ll be fine.

As the youngest of six and with everyone else already out of the house, this last one has learned to sense how I feel and knows how to comfort me so well.

And yet I still need to comfort myself… Taking a slow, deep, emotion-filled breath…it’s all going to be okay…. right?

I stand there another moment and remember the conversation this morning with my oldest daughter who put her very, long-awaited for baby, into day care for the first time.

I ask her, who cried more you or the baby?

She laughs, but is choked up with tears…I think I did. She confesses….Tears well up in my eyes.

Parenthood has so many mixed emotions. Take a deep breath I tell myself…it’s all going to be okay…. right?

Sometimes parenthood rights of passages are just so painful…so unpredictable…suddenly you become aware of what is really happening around you and you see the changes right before your eyes.

You don’t know what the next move is…it wasn’t in the parenting manual.

Yet at almost the same time that you know this wild life ride will take you in many different and amazing directions. And you just try to let go….

But for now, for this moment the fear, the worry, the doubt, the self-doubt are all very present. And I am so mindful of them all.

I think…. I should have spent more time with him…I should have listened more to her…. why did I take that extra consulting work?

I just should have been home more with the kids…. because now they are gone officially.

And I am here with an empty house…although so glad to see the dog lying in the living room. I look at her…and she gives me the knowing nod…she senses the tension, she hates to see packing. It’s as if the kids are leaving her too! We share a moment of connection as odd as that seems.

Today September 1,  I watch my younger friends place their children’s first day photos on Facebook. I recall my kids first days. We would take a picture of all of them with their backpacks and then send out in an email to the grandparents.  The pride and joy we loved to share with our family.

Then, the life changes seemed so much simpler, so much more contained and predictable.
The last child leaving home doesn’t allow me the privilege of just joy. Mixed in there is sadness, anxiety, fear, worry…. a sense of missing something……

Gone are the welcome to the new school year emails, with book lists, dates of parent’s meetings, the calendar of tests and school trips. How I loathed them then…how I observe their absence now.

My son’s mechina (pre-army program) sent the letter to him…not to me! I am astounded by my surprise at this…I knew this would be the case….

It sinks in…I am no longer parenting a minor…I am no longer the responsible adult, I am passing the baton onto my last child. Every other child that came before was not ending an era, it was just a momentary blip.

But then the text comes in from one of the kids…Hey Mama…you able to pick up the baby on Tuesday? We are both working and day care is ending early….

And a few moments later another text…. Remember I am coming in to the airport tomorrow…. will you be home?

And yet another…. Who’s coming home this Shabbat?

I laugh to myself…. Officially huh?

And I take a deep down in the gut breath……feeling the blessings of never-ending, not in the parenting manual, parenthood, wash over me with more joy than ever before.

About the Author
Hazel is a Clinical Social Worker and ADHD Coach for teens, adults, and parents. Hazel uses Mindfulness and Yoga to help her therapy and coaching clients find more calm, focus, and joy in their work, family, and social lives. Hazel loves to share her passion for Mindfulness with everyone.
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