My daughter will graduate from high school next year. She's determined to go away to college. I have two kids, and she's the younger. So, I will be alone in less than a year. I hadn't really thought of it that way until the other day. I had been thinking more about what her schedule will be like next year, and the college application process, and how I will manage to afford it as a single mom, and where she will end up going. I never thought: I will be alone.
It terrified me for a minute. I haven't been alone in 22 years. I don't really remember what it's like. I have adjusted to being a working and writing mother. I started writing in the middle of the night when they were babies and woke to be nursed, and I couldn't get back to sleep afterwards. And I learned to write in the midst of noise and activity, I adjusted to the rhythms of being interrupted every few minutes. That went on for years, until they got older and started going away from home a lot to hang with their friends or do after-school activities. I got used to writing in silence again. But the staccato rhthym of my writing time is still there. I never know when I will be interrupted by the arrival of three or four kids, a series of urgent phone calls that are part of a complex scenario that changes minute to minute, a trip to go pick someone up, a run to the store to get something one of them needs desperately.
What will it be like to be alone again? Will I write more, or will I be stunned by the sudden absence of this kid energy, by the erasure of my role as the mother in a house with children? Will I be unable to write when I am confronted by my new, unfamiliar self?
I'm hoping I will embrace this new phase, and this new freedom. This time, I am free with experience. It should be very different than it was when I was in my twenties. I hope to take full advantage of the opportunities that arise for me as a writer, as an adventurer, as a believer in chance and serendipity.
But no matter how hopeful I manage to be, I know this is going to hurt. Big time.