I started a relationship with Ed when his girls were 5 and 6 years old. They were always a lot of fun, and being girls they talked about everything and anything. They were analytical in the same ways as me, had some of the same interests as met. I got them. So, I experienced all the first with the girls. When they left for college, they left in quick succession, just a year apart. For whatever reason, this felt so much like an empty nest even though we still had our son at home. The chatter was gone, there was less to do. It threw me for a tailspin for sure.
As women, we often wrap up our identity in our roles as mothers and wives. When things get quiet, and we are needed less sometimes we have to rediscover who we are and what we want all over again. I feel like I have already had that chance to reengage with myself over the last five years and to expand again. I started running, I had more opportunity to date and travel with my husband, I had more time for friendships and other interests. It started as feeling more like a crisis than a positive at first, but I did slowly expand how I used my time.
Sometimes our personal freedom is inhibited by our own minds. As I have re-engaged with myself I have learned to have boundaries on my time. To say no. To be fully responsible for my own happiness and make others be responsible for theirs. It’s a dynamic shift, but it has allowed me to let go of a tremendous amount of worry and anxiety. I used to spend so much time worrying about how everyone else felt. I still wouldn’t hurt someone intentionally, but this is a way that freedom is a mindset, when you can let so much more go.
Boy are much different to raise. I am close with our son, but he does not confide in me the way the girls did. He does occasionally go shopping with me, but we do not relate in the same shorthand. I don’t always get him, I have to try harder. I am proud of him and love him beyond words, and I hope to have a friendship with him as an adult. We are still in a transition where he still seeks me out when he has needs that he would like me to meet, but he is just discovering I am my own person and not just a mom.
Still, I see that life is about to change in a big way. He is independent, smart and capable. I don’t worry about him making his way. I worry about something happening to him of course, but he has a good head on his shoulders and is very responsible and as he starts his senior year of highschool is it obvious to me he is ready to go off and live somehwere away for college.
So, outside of the freedom to let go, we also have a lot of logistical puzzles to work through so we are as prepared as possible to support him in college while we are on the road.
In our state, there is a scholarship most kids can meet the requirements to receive, so we are not expecting to be on the hook for a tremendous amount of tuition. Most of our expenses will be in books and in living expenses. He has already decided that he would like to attend the same university that our girls did, which is 3 hours north of where we currently live. The town there is a bit overpopulated making the housing market is extremely tight. As investors we would like to get something like a duplex where one side of the duplex can cover the entire mortgage/taxes/insurance expense.
When our girls went there, the monthly rent was about $525 per student. We paid in the neighborhood of $25,000 just in rent while they were attending. (Not to mention being once charged $1000 for some nail holes in the walls!) We will never see that money again! By finding a duplex, we will save the monthly rent expense, and get the money back from our initial investment when we sell – maybe at even a profit!
The other advantage to buying is he can live their year round. Student housing makes you move out for summer break at this particular school. If we are to be on the road, we will need him to have a home year round. He may opt to meet us and travel with us some, but we certainly do not want to have to come back and keep moving his stuff around. We are very lucky – he will be living in the same town as his oldest sister, my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, and many other members of my extended family. So, even though we are on the road he will have a familial support system.
We have put in bids on a few things, but everything seems to be selling within hours of hitting the market. And, to make things worse, we live 3 hours away. Through our bidding, we have hooked up with a realtor that is a fellow investor and he has been looking and sending us things that are very relevant to our search. This is a crucial piece of the puzzle for how we will make this college experience affordable enough for us to go on the road. Stay tuned!