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TITLE: The Winding Road of Parenthood
By Melinda Melton

I had a hard time writing this piece as far as getting it to flow. It is about Empty Nest Syndrome, how it started and how I worked through it. I also had a difficult time finding a market. Non-Fiction scares me! But I'm trying to write more of it to get past the fear.
It seemed like yesterday when my children were born. We clapped and laughed when they turned over for the first time and eagerly anticipated their first steps. We tied a string around their baby teeth and helped pull the tooth out, then later slipped a little something under their pillow from the Tooth Fairy while the little ones slept.

Unlike my friends, I didnít shed a tear when I dropped them off for their first day of school. I briefly wondered if there was something wrong with me but I was so excited for them and enjoyed watching them walk down the sidewalk with their lunch box and brand new backpack.
Before I knew it, the kids were breezing through Elementary school and soccer games and the house was filling up with childrenís laughter and birthday and slumber parties.

Then suddenly they were in Jr. High School and there were sporting events and band trips, concerts, movie nights and Friday night dances. Our calendar didnít have a free day on it. Where did the time go?

In a flash they are starting high school and instead of Mom and Dad being chauffeur, our teenagers have their driverís license and their own cars. They are beginning to make decisions for themselves, forming new friendships, dating and going out on weekends.

Gone are the days, when they tell me everything that is going on in their lives. As much as I wanted to know every detail, I had to give them their privacy and told them that their Dad and I were there for them no matter what.

While I was happy they were graduating from High School and going to College, I felt a deep sense of loss and I missed the children they once were. I put on a happy face but inside my heart was breaking just a bit.

My husbandís first love was music and when our children were in the last years of High School, he joined a local Jazz band to play his beloved bass. The band called themselves Section 8, which was appropriate because they were all a little bit crazy. His calendar was filling up with practices and performances. Instead of being a supporting parent, Iím became a Section 8 groupie. It was rare that I missed a gig.
I was happy for my husband in that he followed his dream and became a musician and I enjoyed listening to their brand of music but it got me to thinking about my dreams. What were they again?

Once upon a time, I used to love journaling and wrote little poems. I did it for myself and didnít share with anyone except for the occasional poem I shared with my husband.

As the children grew and our lives became more chaotic, the journals were stored away in a drawer and I no longer had the energy to think much less write a poem.

With the house empty of children, Iím surrounded by memories, sports trophies, Homecoming mums and musical instruments locked away in their cases. Maybe it was time to get my journals out again. Dust them off. Write a few poems.
I decided to do something for myself and chase a few dreams of my own. I enrolled in a writing class and began to write short stories for children. Instead of keeping the stories to myself, I shared them with friends and family. Everyone loved them! That was a great confidence builder and certainly boosted my spirits.

When I completed the childrenís writing course, I decided to challenge myself further and took another course in writing for adults.

When I go to my husbandís gigs I not only listen to the great tunes but I am people watching and filing away little notes in my head for possible characters and plots.

While my little nest is still empty and my children are going forward building their lives and my husband is following his musical dreams, I am finding myself again and following a few dreams of my own.

Iím still a mom and a wife but now I can proudly call myself a writer and on those occasions when our family gathers, our home is filled once again with laughter and energy as we share our lives and stories with one another.

I no longer feel empty, lost and alone. I have purpose. One chapter of my life has closed but there are many more to come. Being an Empty Nester doesnít mean my life is over. Iím heading down that winding road to a new adventure.
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