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Changing View

October 2nd, 2023 | By Lisanne Rogers | Published by Motherwell Magazine

Home perches on five acres of sage and pinon in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Hundreds of elk migrate in the fall, the coyotes howl on winter nights, and our children have grown and moved away. My husband travels for work, but this year feels different without our kids in the house. The silence envelops me like a snowdrift, and to stay grounded, I chatter to the dogs. My bones ache with emptiness and longing. Large chunks of snow fall from our metal roof with a dull thud.

The rooms of our children remain the same. Abandoned schoolbooks clutter the desk, a stuffed polar bear splays on the bed in a just tossed landing, and last year’s favorite jeans hang in the closet. I miss the evidence of yogurt-coated fingerprints on the fridge door, the clomping of Birkenstock sandals, and the cornflake-scented hugs when I join them for breakfast.

The oldest took a short flight to Denver, and the other two have stretched their wings across the pond to St. Andrews, Scotland, and Madrid, Spain. I close my eyes and imagine our son wearing his yellow hard hat on a site visit, our daughter enjoying tapas and Spanish wine with friends after work, and our youngest donning a wetsuit with her school surf club before entering the chilly Scottish sea. They are changing and growing; it is time for me to move on.

“Raising children takes up a small portion of your life,” my mother told me years ago, as I packed brown bag lunches and ordered everyone into the car so we wouldn’t be late for school. I heard her words, but I couldn’t comprehend a different life. Motherhood consumed me.

During yoga class, the teacher reminds us to replace “I have to” with “I get to” even for the most mundane tasks. I feel lighter as I go about my day getting things done. The mantra is like a windshield wiper, clearing my view of unwanted debris so I can experience joy in this post-menopausal chapter of my life.

The days grow longer, and bluebirds nest in houses adjacent to our driveway. I take the dogs for another hike among Crayola-colored wildflowers. The Indian Paintbrush and Columbine withstand the hot sun, wind, and hail with a resilience that belies their delicate nature. The muscles in my legs flex and burn, but I refuse to turn around until I reach the ridge.

Later, I gaze out the family room window at the chiseled mountains, at the trail where the dogs and I were walking just hours before. Alone now, I watch with pleasure as the peaks darken to a single silhouette against the fading light.