Today is the 29th of April and I am making plans for my first camping trip alone to the Smokey Mountains. I’ve only camped with Natalia (youngest daughter) and Charlie (our Bichon Shitzu). I want to start understanding what my future is going to look like when she goes off to college in 2 yrs. What will be the difficulties? Can I actually do this? Before I purchase a van, another camper, or just live in tents I need to know if I can do this. 5 yrs ago I did the unthinkable and sold my 13 room house in Iowa, put everything in storage, bought a Scamp trailer, a Chevy Tahoe, and hit the road. With a 10 yr old girl and a little dog name Charlie. Now, my 10 yr old is 16(in a few months) and she graduates in 2020. Then I will officially be on my own. I don’t want to be blindsided like I was when her sisters went off to college. I had built my entire life around my children and our lives together. Somehow I thought our world of family trips, holidays, school, sports, teacher/parent conferences, homework, chores, and friends filling our house would last forever. Yet, when my daughter India was packing her things up the night before college began, I sat on the stairwell and cried my eyes out. How did I not know this was coming? I know now. I think I am prepared for the inevitable sadness, sense of loss and bewilderment. But I really am not. This Thursday, I am going to the Smokey Mountains for 10 days on my own. I am literally already missing Natalia. Like physically missing her. Doing this is like a workout. Strengthening my muscle memory of what it means to be single. Something I haven’t been in 35 years. I don’t want to be the older woman who suffers from empty nest syndrome and suffers alone. You know the type, she goes to work, comes home, eats frozen meals, watches T.V, goes to bed, then wakes up to do it all over again. Lives for the times the children come home. I can’t be that person. Anymore than I could be the soccer mom! My name is Lovejoy. I am a photographer. I have things to do in this world and now is the opportunity to do them. I have been a Mom for 35 yrs. From the time I was 20 yrs old. Literally, I do not know what it means to be single. To not have to cook for anyone, to answer to anyone. To not hear my main name (Mom) called out every 5 minutes. I have a real name. It is Toni. I am excited for this upcoming time, but whew…I am here to tell you, I am scared too! The reality might be that I don’t really know who I am. The who that might have been without children. Don’t take that to mean I regret my children. I don’t. I ADORE THEM! And my new grandson Jameson. Yes, I still plan on leaving. I don’t care if there are 20 grandchildren. I want a life that exists without any obligations. Other than when love calls. Not the laundry and not dinner, not housecleaning. Not school shopping. You see, I have 3 children. 35, 25, 15.(16 August 7th). I have been school shopping for 30 yrs. I’m done! Soon I’m done. In 2 years I’m done. Hang out with me. Meet me on the road. Share with me your stories.
I am making plans to go on my first solo camping trip.