Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Time slips away
June 13, 2018
The past weekend was full of high school graduation celebrations in our community. I was thinking about how nice it was to have survived the matriculations of all our children, and how quickly the years have flown by since the last two walked across the podium to collect their diplomas.
Leave it to Facebook to remind me just how long it has been.
A few days later, the following popped up in my memories "feed," dated June 7, 2012:
"My husband and I officially tied the knot in 2001. We had seven children between us. At the time, the oldest was 15 and the youngest (and the only girl) was seven.
Along the way, one or more of the children attended Bell Hill, Hennessey, Alta Sierra Elementary, Nevada City Elementary, Deer Creek, Union Hill, Magnolia, Cottage Hill, Seven Hills, a short run at home schooling, a charter school I am forgetting the name of (Wolf?), along with Bear River, and Nevada Union.
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To say we were in contact with the Nevada County School System is an understatement. On Saturday, the two youngest boy and girl will be part of the Nevada Union Graduating Class of 2012. Seven and done!
It is a bit surreal to realize we can stop making every decision around practice schedules and school holidays. Our conversations with our children will not be based on homework, late assignments, overdue library books, or getting to class on time.
I know the people in the attendance office will miss us, as we will miss the semi-regular automated telephone call that begins, 'Hello. This is the attendance office at Nevada Union High School. Your child (fill in the blank) has been marked absent for one or more periods today. To clear this absence …' Sadly, that is from memory!
I offer my sincere appreciation to all who helped along this journey. I know we are never really done parenting, but I am so ready for what comes next! We are moving forward, now under the financial strain of four in college.
'Are you sad,' a friend asked. Sad? SAD?! How about rejoicing?! How about remodeling?!
Yes, there will be tears. I can not hear pomp and circumstance without a good cry, and this has been a long, hard, road. But, as much as I love each and every one of the young adults under our roof, I am ready for whatever life is like when the nest becomes empty — and the pantry remains full!"
Reflecting on the past
It is hard to believe it has been six years since I wrote that. What a bright eyed, naïve soul I was! I had no idea what was coming. Just as they took many paths as students, our offspring has taken many roads since leaving high school.
We have attended both university and naval academy graduations. We saw false starts, drop-outs, and incompletes. We recognized vocational and trade successes.
A couple of them are enrolling in new areas of learning. A couple of them are still working on figuring it out. Life goes on.
For nearly a year, they were all gone. It took a while longer than I had imagined it would, but no one was surprised at how much I enjoyed the nest empty.
Still, it was not long before they began to trickle back home. I touted a "yes, you can move back temporarily policy" of "a 90-day maximum stay with an exit strategy."
Over the next half dozen years, four made at least one return for an extended stay. (One with a partner and two dogs in tow.) One is back with us right now.
The strict 90-day maximum stay policy has been extended to a loose 290-day sojourn. It turns out, I am a bit softer than I appear on paper.
In truth, once they all left, I found it easier to welcome them back. My husband and I know it is not only possible, but vital for them to be on their own, so there is an end date on each return — for their sake as much as for ours.
We know what if feels like to have our home all to ourselves and do not doubt that we will have it to ourselves again soon.
I am surprisingly willing to sacrifice it, at least temporarily, to provide a safe place for them to land when the need arises — to regroup, lick their wounds, plan their next step — whatever the reason for the respite.
Being there for them feels good to me in a way I had not considered. Once they experienced living on their own, their perspective shifted a bit as well and they appreciate us in a way they would not had they never left.
Ultimately, providing a place for them to stumble is more important to me than keeping my domain private and my pantry full.
Life is hard and seems to be getting harder all the time as time keeps slipping away.
I feel lucky to be able to provide a temporary hand up when times seem unsteady.
Soon enough, I will be looking for a steady hand myself. I hope they won't mind when I come knocking.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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