Archive | April 2012

Is it Really Ever Empty?

The Empty Nest?

Is it really ever empty?  Last night I was looking at a picture of my boys- they were so young.  I remember pointing to baby pictures of my son Chris and saying to him “I want that baby back.”

Chris

I didn’t realize then that the memories are what we hold on to.  We look back at pictures or sometimes objects and they remind us of old times. Hopefully, they remind us of good times and happy days.  I love that I can smell a certain food cooking and think of my grandparents cooking dinner in their home.

I look at pictures of my children or videos and relive the days when they were young and depended on me for everything.  Today, someone said to me “how are you working full-time and a full-time student?”   Of course my shoulders went a little straighter and I wanted to throw flour in my face and say “oh….one day at a time” (with a dramatic backhand across my forehead). What I did say was, “I don’t know.”

Then I went home and thought about the question and I realized at that very moment that I didn’t have that much responsibility at home.  My children are grown and my husband is amazing and I just don’t have that much to do once I leave work.  Yes, I do take a lot of work home with me, but I absolutely love my work and most of my friends work with me (or most of the people I work with are my friends).   Life is good!  My nest is filled with memories that I cherish.  My children had to grow up at some point and I realize that they will probably not need me as much, but a whole new world has opened up for me.  I can pretty much dance to the beat of my own drum! Isn’t that what I was complaining about all these years? Not really.  I loved being able to do it all.  I did it all and had the support of a great family.  My greatest achievements are my sons.  They all grew up to be amazing men.  I am proud to say that none of my children were ever in trouble with the law or did I ever find that they tried drugs or other substances (notice I said “did I ever find out.”)

In the clinical sense of the words “empty nest”, described as feelings of depression, sadness, and/or grief experienced by parents/caregivers after children leave their childhood homes- I am not sure I can claim that I am an “empty nester”.  I think that more mothers work these days, enjoy the fact that they can (sure there are moms that enjoy working at home as well) and therefore feel less emptiness when their children leave home. In my previous blogs, I said that my mom couldn’t wait until we left home (married).  I also told the story of my mother-in-law whose children all left within a month.  Sure they (okay not my mom) had feelings of sadness but they also had lives outside of their children (work, choir, church etc) and those “empty nest” feelings, I can assume, weren’t as intense as they could have been.  They also have their memories and THEY STILL HAVE THEIR CHILDREN!

I find peace in knowing that my boys are good boys and that they all continue to make awesome life decisions.  They all aspire to be the best they can be and I think that is all we can ask for….and a phone call a few times a week to your momma is nice too.

How did the in-laws do it?

 

Last week I celebrated 32 years of marriage to an amazing man.  He deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He certainly does.  I started thinking about my empty nest stories and remembered something that I hadn’t thought about in such a longtime.  My husband is one of three boys.  He is the “middle” son and in my opinion, the “pick of the litter.”  I started going through wedding pictures. First I drifted to “did I really make the girls wear that dress?”  “Did my husband really pick out that tux?”  Then I found a group picture with our families.  My husband’s younger brother was dressed in full Navy uniform.  How could I forget…?  Ronnie (my mother-in-law called him Reggie) had just, that month, joined the Navy. He just came home one day and said “I joined the Navy” and he left.  I think of that now and can’t even begin to imagine how my in-laws felt.  He was 19 – it was better for him, but still it must have been hard to let him go…

Then I remembered that my older brother-in-law moved away with his girlfriend.  He just picked upend left. Gone. All three sons had moved out within a month.  I never thought about the way that must have felt until I started this blog.  Empty nest?  I can’t even imagine having a “full house” one day and then complete silence the next.  My mother-in-law is the total opposite of my mother.  My mom changed the locks when we left and my mother-in-law would come to our apartment and do our laundry and have everyone over every Sunday for dinner. She loved being a mom and I can only imagine that her nest was rocky at best with only the mom and dad perching inside.   She spent so much time preparing her children for independence and to be productive adults, but never spent time on preparing herself for the conflict she would feel within.  How could they all go at the same time?  I can’t get that thought out of my head…so I asked.  She said it was confusing.  Now she will tell you that she embraced the confusion.  Confusion gets you away from “normal”.  She looked for other things to do and she found them.  Her youngest eventually came back and stayed for a while before getting married and that put her right back into 1st gear. She hit the ground running only to have him leave again.  Her older son eventually continues to come back and forth at will… Her grandchildren do the same. She has a safe place where people can come and go, get a great meal, and lots of love.  I see the hurt in her eyes though, when the giving is not reciprocated.  She never says a word but you can see that she needs to be needed. Strange how some of us deal with things.  My mom would be dancing in the streets.  The funny thing is that my mom and mother-in-law are good friends.  They seem to get along so well and yet they are so different.  What do they say?  That’s what makes the world go round. Personally, I think an “Empty Nest”  is for the birds!