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Posts Tagged ‘empty nester’


Perhaps being the youngest, our last daughter, K, pushed our buttons, dipping her toes outside the set boundaries and tested the water the most. As a result, we butted heads a lot, especially the last couple of years. We knew it was only a phase, but still it was difficult to deal with at times. In the heat of the moment, many times being the flawed person that I am, I have said or done things that I regretted. K taught me patience.

About one or two months before she moved out in November, she and I had a huge argument where she gave me opportunities and she even asked if I wanted to kick her out. It was so tempting and easy to rid the stress and chaos of the moment, but I refrained and calmly said instead that I was not kicking her out, that she would always have a loving home here, and she could move out when she was ready to do so. Taking the wind out of that sail was tough, not reacting to her poking and provocation was even tougher. K taught me to look at things from different angles.

She did move out with her boyfriend, they invited us over for dinner once they settled in. We were pleasantly surprised that their small apartment was neat and tidy. They were lovely hosts and we had a wonderful evening together. K showed me that she could handle change when she was ready, and she was capable and confident.

It was hard to let go, especially the baby of the family. K reminded me that true love is to let them go, spread their own wings and make their own lives.

All the children, and their significant others, came home for Christmas. I loved listening to them catching up with one another’s lives. I loved hearing the laughter, where only a few years ago, it was constant bickering. I loved the kibitzing and teasing between them, where it was blaming when they were all living at home. This was the first Christmas where we graduated to become empty-nesters, and the kids grew up to be young adults. They really wanted to be with us and we were enjoying and appreciating each other’s company, connections and conversations. Even the two older silbings commented on how pleasant K was since she has moved out. How AWESOME is that? I feel so blessed.

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I remember the days when the kids were younger, how noisy our home was … from all three kids wanting our attention at the same time to someone being hungry, from siblings fighting for the same toys or favourite things to teenagers having friends over, or everyone raising their voices because no one seemed to understand each other. Our house was never quiet until after everyone went to bed.

Our house has been quiet for some time already in the last few months, but now we are officially empty-nesters. As of this week, our youngest has moved out. With no kids at home, the TV is no longer on very often, no video games are being played, no friends gathering for a pool game or movie night. The house feels too big and we are “rattling around” inside. This quiet takes some getting used to.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is AWESOME that the kids move out and be on their own. Like her two older siblings, I know our youngest will mature quickly when she learns the cost of living, the consequences of not washing dishes, doing her laundry or paying her bills – this kind of learning outside the classroom and outside the home is a necessity. THIS is the real game of Life, one that I have dreaded, worried sick and welcomed all at the same time, many times. I really had to learn to let go and trust that they will make it on their own. While it gets better and easier with each child, the worrying remains.

Even when the kids bring home their laundry baskets full of dirty clothes or ask if they could take something from our pantry, I love their home coming. I love their chit-chatting, sharing their stories of recent ups and downs or cooking a meal together. I love listening to their laughter and kibbitzing with each other and with us. This is what I call the family noise – it’s so AWESOME to be able to enjoy the noise in harmony, in peace with the knowledge that they see us as someone they can share things with or reach out to for our view points and opinions. It is a joy to see them grow up. I am missing the family noise – this is going to be a new journey of adjusting to being a twosome again.

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Not for the first time this year, I find myself alone with my husband and no children with us at the cottage. Just the two of us.

There are lots to do around the place, cleaning up the yard, looking after the much neglected planted vegetables, clearing the overgrown paths, etc. There is, of course, work related things to do as well. I don’t know whether to feel frustrated with the non-existent and sometimes intermittent internet service or be thankful that it’s not working, so I can truly get away from work for a while.

I read, I doodled, I did Sudoku and crossword puzzles, I listened to the radio and most of all, I looked out at the lake … it has a calming effect on me. The water is exceptionally high this year due to a very wet and cool spring on top of the snowmelt, the highest we’ve ever seen. Last night, the full moon reflected onto the dark surface of the rippling water, lighting up our bedroom with a mystic brightness.

I cooked without thinking that there were only the two of us, so we are now eating left overs for days to come. I think we are approaching the empty nester stage, if we weren’t already in it. When the kids were younger, I looked forward to this time alone with my husband, but now that it’s here, it takes a bit of getting used to. It is very nice not to have to drive anyone anywhere, it is nice to cook and eat whatever we want without worrying too much about a balanced nutritious meal, and it is very nice not to have to live by the kids’ schedules so much anymore, but I’m also missing the kids’ noise, their chatter and their comings and goings. Most of all, I miss the hugs that I used to get when they were younger, I miss their telling me everything about their days and subconsciously, I guess I miss feeling like I’m the one that they came to for all sorts of help and advice. It is AWESOME that they are feeling strong and capable enough to fly away from the nest.

This seems to be a bittersweet transition phase of our lives … it is AWESOME to be finally to be just us again, it is just going to take me some time to adjust.

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As our children grow up, they have their own lives, their work, friends and social activities that keep them busy. More and more, my husband and I find ourselves eating alone at dinner, and the kids are almost always out somewhere during the weekend. I think they are preparing us to be empty nesters.

I’d have to admit that sometimes it’s nice not to have to “parent” them anymore, on the other hand, I still worry and get emotional and stressed out about their safety, their life, school and work choices. I can only hope that our parenting and our values that we tried to impart on them will surface and remind them of who they are ethically and morally, as they develop their own identities, selves and maturity.

I’d also have to admit that I really miss our daily family dinners, where we all sit down together with the kids yakking away, sharing with us their days, friends and happenings. I miss our family outings like our walks in the forest or parks, playing games or even just watching TV together – those days are drifting away and some long gone, like our Friday night “special times” (one on one time with each of the kids).

Last evening, we were all home and we sat down for a family dinner together. That was so AWESOME and made me so happy. I guess the day has come for me to let them go, they are growing up and I will have to set them free and let them test their wings.

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