Well, it’s over. At 8:00 this morning, my nephews have moved out of our house and back in with their mother. Just 4 days short of a year, it’s over.
About a week ago, we met with Child Protective Services – they have been popping by every month to check on the kids and the state of our house. This time was different, though. They wanted to talk to us about our thoughts regarding the children leaving. On the whole, much progress has been made and we were fine with it on some conditions, which we laid out thoroughly.
We also explained that when the kids left, we would be making many phone calls to cancel various support services and we doubt re-approval could ever happen. Additionally, we would be getting rid of excess clothes, furniture, etc. In short, once they left, though we would always be able to babysit and help, the kids would not be able to move back in if anything were to regress.
We then spent the next several days making preparations. This morning, they left. There is still follow-up work to be done. Plenty of clothes and toys that need to be bagged and moved, but overall, the burden is lifted and our lives can resume.
I’ve thought often over the last year what this would feel like and I have to admit that the reality is far more bittersweet than I had hoped. Mickey and I were discussing some feelings over lunch today and I admitted that I had been feeling empty and directionless for some time, now. It feels as though I have an overall sense of missing fulfillment – a hole in my being that I had been pushing aside for the greater good of the family. With kids to wrangle, four different dishes to cook every meal (to accommodate finicky tastes and allergies) piles of laundry, cleaning, and the absolutely mind-boggling number of miles to drive in transporting people from one place to the next, I had no room for myself and my feelings of unknown longing.
Now, I’m face-to-face with it and there’s no white noise to drown it out. I have no toddlers, no diapers, no commitments, and I’m even on vacation from work, to boot. It’s now 11:56 and I just cracked a beer open – more of a symbolic gesture, really. I have no real desire or need to drink, but I like the idea that I can drink before noon. Just the ability is somehow uplifting.
So, I’ll be trying different things out. Exercise, picking the guitar back up, writing more; perhaps even on this blog, start homebrewing beer (got the “OK” from Mickey last night to start on that, since I have all the equipment), and whatever else that may fill the void.
The point is that My Life as Onkel is over. Now, it’s time to start My Life as Mike.