by Mariann E. Danko

With high school graduation now behind us, my Son and I took some time to relax and reflect on “Days Gone Bye” and roads yet to travel.

The best place for that in my book is the beach. Breathing in the sea air with sand between my toes is the best decompression therapy out there.

Our beach of choice for this trip was Ocean City, Maryland. The town where I met my Son’s Father and the place of my Son’s birth.

When my Son was little we would come back every year, but over time we migrated further north to Bethany Beach. And some years we didn’t even make it to the beach, choosing other locations for a Summer vacation, like Georgia for our TWD Roadtrips.

This year, considering where we have come from and where we are headed, I felt it was extremely fitting we go back to OCMD. Having lived and work there for three years, I have many fond memories beyond the obvious romance with my Son’s father and subsequent birth of our amazing Son.

This place will always hold a special place in my heart. How could it not?

When I moved to OCMD, I was single and starting over after a divorce. I knew no one, but I knew OCMD was where I was meant to be. My move was most definitely divinely guided.

Of course at the time I had no idea why. Now it’s quite obvious.

When my Son was born, he became the center of my universe, especially after we lost his Father when my Son was only 3 years old. My wants and needs became secondary. All that mattered was my Son’s health, welfare and happiness.

Over the years we’ve certainly seen our share of ups and downs, as documented in this blog, but it’s those challenges and rewards that made our bond stronger.

As with all children, as they grow into their own, and make friends, their parents start to take a backseat, so having a week with my Son all to myself was something I was very much looking forward to.

As they say in the Visa commercial, it was priceless.

By August he will be headed off to college and I will be flying solo, again.


In between now and then, he will be working his Summer job at an amusement park, and based on the shifts he’s been getting thus far, will more than likely be working a lot of nights, which means we won’t see much of each other. So it just makes the week at the beach, just the two of us, even more special.

As I write this, our beach week is behind us and we have officially moved into the “Season of Transition,” the weeks between vacation and my Son starting college.

Our first week back, 4 out of 5 days I came home from work to an empty house. This definitely felt weird, but knowing my Son was just at work and would be home later in the evening is the buffer I need to transition into him being away at school.

I’m quite sure this will be a much more challenging transition for me than my Son.

As I found out at his graduation party the weekend after our vacation, he is ready to go college. Mentally he is prepared for the next level of his journey.

Grad Day HouseDiplomaGrad AfterMe and Roy

Me, on the other hand, can get emotional just thinking about it. At college, my Son will be too busy getting adjusted to a whole new life and meeting new friends to give home a second thought. Everything will change for him, but for me my basic day will be same, except the void made by my Son away at school.

A void made even more obvious because time that was previously filled with things related to him, like band camp and football season, will now be open for me.

K-12Level Up

I don’t know what that is after years of my world revolving around my Son’s schedule.

Time on my hands is not something I am familiar with.

As my Son has meandered into his teens, I’ve been slowly working on finding me again, as apposed to being just Mom, but I don’t know that I’m truly prepared for a whole day to me.

I love being a Mom and all that goes with it, but I know there are parts of me that have been put on hold and I know I need to rediscover them. I have to embrace this in order to make this transition easier on me.

Between leaving my ex-husband and meeting my Son’s Father, I had done a lot of soul-searching. Moving to the beach can do that.

I need to use this “Season of Transition” as a means to start stepping into that territory again. In doing so, I know it will help me make the leap into being an empty-nester.

Pondering being alone

In so doing, I will hopefully find a way to transition this blog from the topic of parenting to one of self-discovery. Maybe instead of “Waking the Walker – a Mother’s quest to survive her Son’s zombie years – aka his teens” it could evolve into “Waking the Woman Inside the Mother – a Mom’s journey into rediscovering herself after her Son leaves for college.”

It’s still a work-in-progress, but writing became not only a creative outlet after I left my husband, but a means of therapy, as it continues to be.


The “Season of Transition” is not just impacting me, it is also forcing my Son to learn to fend for himself more, especially because he has to get his own dinner before he leaves for work. Granted, it’s just warming up leftovers, but he has to create a timeline for himself in order to get to work on time. He has to watch the clock, not me.

He has also opened a checking account, which makes him responsible for his gas and spending money, plus he has to cover the monthly expense of Netflix and WOW. Something he had never had to really worry about before. He is now responsible for his own finances. No more allowance and Mom keeping a tally for him.

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Yes, I will have to give him guidance as far as managing his finances, but that’s not the same as being the sole provider. Considering he’s the type of kid who likes to spend money, when it’s a gift, he’s being forced to learn that all the money he earns is not for play.

I realize there are grown-ups who don’t quite get this, but just as I tell him to get all his chores and must-do’s done before he plays, paying all your debts before you use money for play is essential to financial survival. Not a concept many teenagers get very easily.

The financial responsibility adventure is only in it’s infancy, but the discussion about college loans has certainly forced this concept to the forefront.

Fortunately for my Son, he won’t have to face the true reality of the college loans till he graduates from college, and I hope between now and then he has matured in the handling of his finances.

Class of 2018

So, let’s hope by the end of our “Season of Transition” I’m in a place of acceptance and truly prepared for “What Lies Ahead” and my Son is self-sufficient enough to manage freshman year without any major challenges.

Until then I’m taking it a day at a time and enjoying whatever time my Son and I get to spend together, even if it’s just doing every day boring stuff.

As Kurt Vonnegut said –

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”


© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2018. All rights reserved.

Photos from my personal collection

Financial Responsibility – 123rf – seijiroooooooooo