Posts Tagged With: empty nest

 
 

Physics for Four-Year-Olds

I took two of my favorite tiny people to the park several times over the past month. We usually go armed with buckets and shovels (and kleenex, just in case.)

Plans of building sandcastles and making weed, rock and sand “soup” fall by the wayside as we arrive. As soon as these two kick off their sandals they head for the swing set.

I get it. I really do. I recall a personal addiction to that sensation of forward and back and up. I remember as a child willing myself to keep sailing upward when I’d let go, imagining that with enough willpower I’d be able to fly. It’s especially thrilling when someone will “underdog” your swing and really send you rocketing, catching a little air at each extreme arc of the swing. Ah, those were amazing days.

photo-26 copy 13

The perfect way to spend a cool May evening.

The just-barely four-year-old decided that it’s time to finally learn to pump herself on the swing. She’s been working on it with her Dad and Mom at different times. I hoped that some particular magic that only Gramma’s possess might contribute to her success.

Sadly, no matter how many times we tried, no matter how it got explained, the idea of when and how much to lean back timed with when to lean forward just never quite jelled. I assured her that someday it would just naturally make sense, that she’d suddenly find that she’s sitting on a self-propelled swing. No need for “someone” to push her.

The last time we were at the park together, a week ago, I assured her that when I saw her again she’d have mastered the art of pumping herself on the swing. I told her that one day it would just make sense and her body would naturally move in cadence with the ebb and flow of the swinging motion. I could say that with confidence because she was moving to a new house with a swing set in the back yard. And, I wouldn’t be seeing her for at least three months.

Now it seems like I’m the one stuck on a weird new swing set unable to get the rhythm of the thing so I can enjoy the ride. That four-year-old moved way East, further east than I can drive in a day or two. Her absence, along with her Mommy and little sister and Daddy, has left me dangling. Quite frankly I don’t feel much like swinging, or doing much of anything. I feel homesick and heartsick even though they’re the ones who left.

Sigh.

It’s more than just their move out-of-state.

All four of my kids are now in four different states, spread out over a radius too wide for my mothering instincts to accept. I’m not sure when we’ll all be together again. I’m extra grateful we had some family together time in Colorado a few weeks ago.

I know, I know. One of these days I’ll find myself spontaneously feeling happy and lighthearted and not weighed down with missing them. One of these days things will click and I’ll laugh without feeling slightly fake. Eventually I’ll welcome the sun’s incessant cheerful rays through the blinds instead of shutting it out and living in a shaded dark interior.

One of these days I’ll feel the swing moving me forward and back, up and out, and my legs and body will follow suit, keeping life moving in a wide arc of joy and growth.

Until then, I’ll just try to understand and accept the physics of life’s forward momentum.

"It's not working!"

“It’s not working!”

Categories: Family, motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Friday Letters to my Children

Dear J, J, L and L,

I’m not using your full names to protect you from my nonsense. I’ve been inspired by these four Dads whose blog is simply letters to their little kids. After reading their blog for a month or so, I suddenly thought, “I should do that!“ Except, you kids are all grown and flown. And you know me, the epic procrastinator of the century, I’d probably get around to an individual letter to each of you sometime around my ninetieth year, which is half a century-ish away.

So instead of my usual procrastination I’m going to have a weekly post of a letter to my children. One week it may speak to only one of you. Other weeks the letters may seem so off-kilter you’ll wonder why I even started it with the words, “Dear Kids.”

photo by Heinrich Böll Stiftung

photo by Heinrich Böll Stiftung

I just know that if I really want to get something done, then attaching it somehow to my blog and my writing will ensure that it happens. I hope you don’t mind the public nature of this undertaking. It seems a little weird, but also for me somehow, it feels safe. I don’t have that many readers anyway. And the few I do have seem sincere and kind and know me pretty well, or they’re related to me.

Another reason I want to do this came about after spending a week with Baby N and her Mom and Dad. I fluctuated between incredible pride at what a phenomenal Mom she already is and remembering what an epic failure I felt like as a new mom the first five years of motherhood. Rather than wallowing in my self-pity and semi-inaccurate view of my past life, I thought writing about it in specifics might help me paint a clearer picture of my life as a Mother. Maybe through this writing process I can forgive myself for those failures of naiveté, youth and inexperience. That’d be a bonus for me.

It’s been an evolutionary process to raise the four of you. I’ve learned things no university could ever hope to instill. I’ve felt some of the most exalted and some of the most heart-wrenching emotions as a mother. Most of it has been somewhere between the two extremes.

The other part of this Friday Letters to My Kids thing would be to paint a clearer picture for you of who your mother is. Or who I was back then. It’s not like I’m ever going to stop being your Mom. Hardly. It’s a lifetime buy-in that I’m ever so glad I stumbled on.

No names, but you gotta admit these are some cute kids!!

No names, but you gotta admit these are some cute kids!!

With that long preamble said, for today all I want to say is “Thank you!” I am a blessed woman to have the four of you in my life. I’m proud of each one of you for being true to who you are, for being kind, loving, fun, caring, responsible people. You’ve turned out better than my wildest dreams.

You’ve also made me who I am: a little nuts, a lot of worrier and a deep thinker, and someone who needs a ton of laughter for balance and sanity.

I promise I won’t ask you here to pack or move any boxes. I really won’t expect you to do any inventory, or yard work, or dishes, or organizing. A family campout might be in order someday. Can you imagine all of us, with the babies out camping? In the rain?

Oh, and most important of all, I promise, no naked baby pictures!

I look forward to our Fridays. I’m a little scared as well, but I think it’ll be a great ride. It can’t be any worse than being raised by me and your Dad, right? How embarrassing was that? Oh. Right. “Speedos,” thongs, who-hair, family singing and sewing projects. I’ll try to avoid anything that horrifying.

I love you,

Mom

P.S. (I know, I know, it isn’t actually Friday, but it will be in a few days. This is just the introduction anyway. It’s not really an official letter.)

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Friday Letters, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Perks of Parental Survival

Every parent understands the yin/yang, good/evil, adorable/despicable, sweet/smelly, insane/delightful opposites of raising children. Enough books, essays, blog posts, magazine articles and late night journal entries exist to fill the Library of Congress twice over on the topic.

This is not that topic. Not exactly.

A beacon...

A beacon of light…

Today I share a beacon of light for those of you somewhere between conception and empty nest.

One of my children, who shall remain nameless said the following, and I paraphrase due to my utter and complete lack of brain cells used up by said child and siblings.

“I’ve realized that all that stuff that just magically appeared at Christmas time and other holidays was done by you, Mother. It dawned on me that now if I want that stuff to happen, I have to do it myself.”

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of vindication Angelic Choirs breaking forth in song and shouts of hallelujah and Amen.

*angelic choir music*

*cue angelic choir music* (Photo credit: Crispy Lettuce)

I’ve walked on clouds since that phone call this morning. My feet have not touched terra firma, my heart has wings, light glows like a halo on everyone I see, well, almost everyone.

What’s this emotion I feel?

Satisfaction? Success? Relief? Surprise? Sorrow? Exaltation? Insanity?

Yes.

What a sensation to feel as if I’m… not exactly finished, but…on the other side of a long dark scary twisty rollicking hilariously terrifying ride called parenthood.

Oh sure, I still worry about each of my kids multiplied by two or three or four, but not in an in-my-face-constantly-what-was-that-siren-and-where-is-my-kid kind of way.

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA…kinda magical and scary at the same time, huh? (Thanks Wikipedia)

I’m so glad I didn’t give up a few years ago when it was oh so tempting! You laugh, but I was seriously considering moving in with my sister and leaving MSH to deal with it all by himself. But something in me, that DNA connection or something more powerful than the need for sanity, wouldn’t let me go through with my threat. I stayed. I stuck it out. I survived.

Even to this day there are times in my parenthood history that I can’t mentally revisit without tears, or maniacal laughter, or brushing up against near insanity, or absolute and total shock at my stupidity. That my children survived me at all is itself a miracle. That we all still speak to one another and love each other clearly stands as another marvel.

I’m not bragging. Oh, by no means, no. I’m just saying, if I got to this point, then almost anyone can get here. Really!

I haven’t figured out how yet, but here I am, on the other side of the tunnel.

Ever so tired.

But glowing.

I think I need a really long nap.

Categories: Family, Humor, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Anticipation and Aftermath

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Categories: Family, Joy, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For My Dancing Daughter

It’s Gratituesday! Today I am grateful that we’re adding to our family tomorrow. We’re getting a son-in-law! My youngest daughter gets married on Wednesday!

As predicted years ago, this happens before my oldest daughter ties the knot.

Not that it was ever a contest. It’s all about personalities and differences. They’re both unconventional in completely different ways, so we all knew it would play out this way. It’s kind of fun to watch things unfold. This daughter getting married is the very one I wrote about in my Beanie Baby post.

This daughter loves dancing. She always danced her own steps and made up her own moves. She’s been that way with her whole life. Free spirited, wanting to do things her own way, confident, independent, persevering, determined. What a beautiful young woman she’s become. What a stunning bride she’ll be!

Since there isn’t a mother-daughter dance at a wedding, I’m taking a moment here for a mother-daughter song. So here it is:

“When you get the choice to sit it out or dance…I hope you dance!”

You might be saying to yourself, wait a minute, didn’t you just marry off a son a couple of months ago? Yup! Sure did! What vitality and light our new daughter-in-law brought with her. Lucky us! And my son? I’ve haven’t seen him smile this much since he got his Big Wheel at three years old.

Fireworks

I suspect something similar of my daughter, once the jittery, excited, nervous, busy, chaotic ride of the wedding day events unfold, I’m pretty sure her smile will be unending and blissful. For now, she’s holding it all in, like a firework, keeping things in check and under control until the last possible moment. Once she lets that smile break out, showing her real emotions, we’ll all bust out in contagious laughter and smiles.

I have to admit, I’ve definitely let my emotions run amok lately. Lots to do to prepare, plenty of everyday stress mixed in, plus the record-breaking heat we’ve had.

I’m sure I’ve been motherzilla-of-the-bride lately.

But, now that I think about it, I’m sure I can blame it on the denial I’m in about her moving out and moving on. Sure, I’ve been ready for it, praying for it, happy for her, for this next big step in her life. But at the same time, she’s my baby!

What’s next?

Holy mackerel, what isn’t next? It’s not like, once she leaves I’ll have nothing to do, hardly so.

But there’s this sense of loss when children progress, and this one I haven’t really addressed, until now, strangely out loud and in public. But I’m only acknowledging it briefly, to remind myself to think about it later. After all, Thursday will be just another day.

Wedding cake.

(Photo credit: THEMACGIRL*)

Or not.

Sigh…

Sniff…

Until then…

Wednesday is Wedding Day, a joyous occasion, a new beginning, a day for laughter.

A day for cheers.

A day of dancing,

A day for tears.

Here’s wishing my daughter a beautiful marriage with the love of her life!

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Joy, Love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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