My Oldest Kids Moved Out!
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
There’s been a major shift in our family these past few months. I think I was in denial about it for a long time, but I'm starting to come around and be able to talk about it without getting emotional. 6 of our 17 to 19 year old young adults transitioned from our home to smaller, independent living apartments.
I can’t believe I even just wrote those words. I guess that’s how it happens. One minute you’re telling them to brush their teeth and not watch too much TV and eat their vegetables and helping them with their homework and tucking them into bed, and the next you’re helping move them into their dorms and very own apartments.
In reality, we’ve been gearing up for this for almost two years. Led by our Futures Director, Anjali, and the BlinkNow Futures Committee, we did hours of calls, meetings, and consultations with other organizations who have been through or are going through age out and transition. We read articles and books and studied transitional stages and housing in orphan care and foster care. We looked at parenting strategies during transitions within families. We talked to other parents and social workers and leaders of organizations. We assembled a team and committee to support our family and our program as we navigated this for the first time. Our young adults did internships and lived in dormitories on their own in Kathmandu. They’ve been learning to prepare meals on their own, manage their own budgets and allowances. They’ve done workshops, classes, and weekly meetings ranging on everything from to conflict resolution, grocery shopping to budgeting. It's been a lot of work and a lot of research. But it still didn't make navigating the emotions of it any easier.
I kept putting off having to think about the day until a few weeks before it actually arrived. The young adults spent the entirety of their last month in our home getting their little kitchenettes set up, choosing dishes, and bedding and having a piece or two of furniture made. They’ve been learning how to live independently and slowly, as move out day crept closer, it started to feel real.
The entire family (led by our 10th graders) threw a huge surprise party on their last night with all of us together. We lit candles and set up tables on the rooftop and ordered all the kids special food. Then, we had our very last satsang all together as a family of 50. There were tears and laughs and beautiful speeches, and dance performances and singing of songs. The love in that circle on the roof was almost too much to handle. My children all genuinely love each other as siblings, they choose to hang out together, they are everything to one another. Hearing them all talk about our family, the older kids, and what our life meant to them was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
I chose to sing the James Taylor song "You've Got a Friend” for them. It's a song from my childhood that reminds me of my own parents. I remember being little and them singing me to sleep and to this day, the song brings me comfort. I got to the second verse and had to stop and swallow back tears, then took a big deep gulp and kept singing.
Our final transition ceremony was special and beautiful and even though it was unbearably hard, it felt good. It felt like the time was right. My children are adults and I could feel in my heart that it was time for them to fly from our nest. The kids all had their own last final sleep over together and then, just like that, the older kids made their moves.
I know you’re thinking: in a home with 50 kids, only 7 gone is still a LOT of KIDS. But, I have to tell you, it felt so oddly strange. 3 of my other teens were on exchanges in the US and with a few of my tenth graders very tied up in their exams, the house has felt so different. I’m constantly counting the kids and feeling like something is missing. I'm constantly looking for Janak playing the guitar on the roof and the Karma listening to music on her bed in her room and Shova giving advice to all the middle girls and doing their hair and Goma sitting with the aunties chopping vegetables. I look for Kesav whenever I need an errand run and Naveen every time I need a laugh or to be kept in check on an issue in the family. I miss them at dinner. I miss them at family games. Satsung was brutal. There was no one to lead the dance parties, the sing-a-longs. For a few weeks, we all felt a little lost. Whenever we ring the bell for an activity or are doing something as a family I feel like we’re so small.
Luckily for us, the transition has gone really well. They still come over weekly for meals, they're still there for big family meetings and discussions. They invite me over for dinner in their little apartments and we laugh and tell stories. I feel like I can talk to them differently now. I'm so lucky I have them as a sounding board in my life. They give me advice about the younger kids when I need it. We talk about Jeremy and us getting married. They're off on adventures with college and high school, and exams in KTM, and internships. Even though they have begun their transitions to independent living, this is still their home and it always will be.
I want to thank everyone who helped us through this new time in our family. The other organizations we consulted with, our BlinkNow futures committee, both our Nepali and American based boards, our directors, our caregivers, our aunties and uncles. We are grateful to our donors that made this transition possible for our first six; none of this is possible without you all.
Most of all, I want to thank Anjali who worked so hard to make this happen in the most perfect way for our family and each of our young adults. I'm forever indebted to her for the late nights, early mornings, and the sensitivity and heart with which she navigated this.
To my young adults, Janak, Goma, Naveen, Kesav, Karma, and Shova. There are no words for how much I love you. For how proud I am of you. For how grateful I am that you came into our family and led us all through so much. Thank you, I love you. "Just call out my name… and you know wherever I am, I'll come running… just to see you again."