This morning my guy and my gal are sleeping in and I’m up early, having planned to make my gal tea before she headed off to yoga, before I knew she wasn’t going.

Lately I’ve been working on essays for grad school applications, have written a bit on my stack of plain paper at my desk, Proprioceptive Writing style. I haven’t written much here. I don’t know why. I do miss it.

Yesterday my daughter took over my laptop, reading and editing my essays. Before that I had been losing confidence. Her help felt solid, not only because she’s a great editor and knows me well and has just finished a fall of college essay writing herself, with lots of helpful editing at school, but because she was doing it, and only a few years ago, I didn’t know she’d be in this place, college applications submitted to fifteen colleges, many acceptances and scholarships to sort through as she makes her way to spring.

Last night I wondered why the essay writing is so hard for me. I suppose there are lots of reasons, but the one that lingered was the piece about my daughter leaving, and my wanting to leave too, in some way, perhaps to avoid being here and being left again, to have something new of my own when she leaves, when my years of raising children at home end, rather than continuing on with only the empty nest, to make a positive change for myself as my children build lives of their own.

Our children all leave, if they are healthy and strong and able. Wanting them not to is no good. Letting them go is still hard.

When my oldest left for college at seventeen I took a new job at the kids’ school. When my middle child left at nineteen I was planning to move my life to Northampton and spending two long weekends a month there. Partway into his second semester he moved back home, in a hard place that took time to move through, which he did, and I was grateful to be here for him at that time.

Now my youngest is preparing to leave, also at nineteen, I’m preparing more seriously for the empty nest. She’s an adventurer and would like to go far, has acceptances that could take her across the country to Colorado or Washington State, to Florida, is still waiting to hear from colleges in Ohio and Maine, might end up as close as Vermont or Western Mass, will most certainly not be in Boston, is not likely to be home weekends, may not even be home more than at the end of the semester. She’s also applying to be a camp counselor for the summer, and would like to live away from home rather than work with me in the day care as she did last summer.

All of it is wonderful. It’s what we both want. And I can’t get enough of her while she’s home. She’s a fine young woman who has the potential to make a full and wonderful life. She’s always been wonderful, but the last three years she’s come to love school. That is a mystery I would not have known how to predict before it happened. But it did.

All my predicting doesn’t create the life I’ve lived or the lives my children have lived and it won’t create our lives ahead. It’s tempting to want to know the future and probably best we don’t.

Last night as we snuggled in front of the fake fire, beside the little lit tree, my guy and I talked about unknowing and nothingness, the mystery we humans face and often fear when we don’t know what is ahead, don’t know what to do, don’t know how to predict the future or control our lives.

Writing the grad school essays stirs that up in me. Applying to Smith and getting accepted could change my life, with three summers of classes in Northampton and two years of clinical work in places I can’t predict, into a career that is new and where I’ll be a novice, with financial and relationship implications that are also unknowable. The Simmons application is next. Going there would be a less extreme shift, with local classes I could stretch out over time and clinical work that would keep me nearby.

Somehow I’m drawn to the bigger shift of Smith, to the more intense coursework, to the option to spend three summers in Western Mass, to be there or elsewhere for two years of clinical work, to the demands of a program known to challenge it’s participants on lots of levels.

Either place has potential to be a good fit. Both would be enormous investments of time and money and energy. Both would involve big changes in how I live my life, and both would involve figuring out what will happen to the day care over time.

For now, though, it’s writing and editing essays and submitting applications and not knowing, while also keeping the day care and home life and relationships going, finding time to relax and talk and share a meal, to walk and be out in the world.

Happiest of New Years to you. Mine feels intriguing. Next year at this time life will be different, as it always is, moment by moment, day by day, year by year, and this time, decade by decade.