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My son is leaving for college, and it's the best and worst thing all at once.

"I have worked myself out of the job."

I find myself struggling under the weight of change. My heart is simultaneously so full and yet shattered into a thousand pieces.

I am teary all the time. There's a heaviness on my shoulders that I'm not sure will ever go away.


My baby is about to leave the nest.

My high schooler.

Sure, I know what they say. I know this is an exciting time. I know he's better off launching into the world and growing into a responsible adult.

I know I will adapt to him being gone. I know he's not dying. I am extremely proud of what he's become and what he’s going to be. I know he's healthy, competent, and strong. I know that I don't want him living in my basement until he's 40. I know how lucky I am. I know this.

But I cannot seem make my heart understand what my mind knows.

All the many sleepless nights rocking a newborn in the moonlight of a tiny apartment, I dreamed of what he'd become.

Bleary-eyed and exhausted, I soaked it up as best I could. Later, as I wiped peanut butter off sticky fingers after his lunch every day, I fervently longed for when he'd learn to do it himself.

With each tantrum and missed nap, I'd ache for just a few minutes of alone time. When I had a baby girl in the shopping cart and felt frazzled as I struggled to herd two wandering little boys, I groaned and fantasized about doing the shopping without them.

A lot of those days, I found myself wishing for time to move faster. Life with young children was a never-ending glance at the clock on the wall, minutes sometimes ticking by so slowly they felt like hours. If I could just make it until nap time. Or bedtime. Or Friday evening at last.

Watching a child grow up can go by quickly. Image from iStock.

The dirty trick no one tells you is that one day, you will spend every minute wishing for the opposite: watching the clock and willing it to stop.

They never tell you that your heart will hurt and swell at the thought of time moving forward. And move forward it will, at a pace so rapid your head will spin.

You will wish and pray for just a few more months or hours or minutes with these babies. Few people ever warn you that you'll look back and wonder if you appreciated it enough, loved them enough, taught them enough.

I have worked for 18 long years for these exact results, and yet I feel unrealistically angry at my own success.

I have achieved the perfectly predictable end to the story I have spent years writing. I have worked myself out of the job. I knew this was the outcome of the path I was on, but now that I'm here, I want a different one. One where I get to have my cake and eat it, too. One where my son flourishes and grows, yet never leaves my side.

Is that too much to ask of the universe?

And if I can't have that, then I at least want a do-over.

My young man.

I want to hold him one more time in the moonlight of that crappy apartment, smell his sweetness, and lose an entire day with him in my arms.

Watching your children leave the nest can be exciting and scary. Image from iStock.

I want to see those sticky fingers grasp at Cheerios on a tray and rejoice when he can finally pinch one between them and raise it triumphantly to his lips. I want to see that toothless kindergarten grin look for me in the crowd of parents during the painful squeaks of the beginner violin concert and watch his eyes light up when he finds me. I want it so badly that every cell in my body just aches.

But that's the thing about this story: We don't get a different ending.

We get this one. We build our lives around these busy, toddling, energetic, lovable creatures, and they walk right out of it. We are left with a hole in our heart where their daily presence used to be — an ache that will never be filled because the life we had built with them in it is forever changed.

Stevie Nicks brilliantly said it best:

"And can I sail through the changing ocean tides / Can I handle the seasons of my life? / Oh oh I don't know, oh I don't know / Well, I've been afraid of changing / 'Cause I've built my life around you / But time makes you bolder / Even children get older / And I'm getting older too."

I know I'll be OK and find myself eventually on the other side of this long, lonely bridge.

I know it's not the end.

But it's the end of something; it's the end of something pretty spectacular. And I just can't help but wish it wasn't so.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

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Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

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Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

Emily Boazman, a mom who had HG while pregnant with her third child, showed just how big of an impact it can make in a viral TikTok.

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The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

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Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

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