I did it! I took on the challenge of chronicling our first year alone without teens underfoot. The challenge was to explore this life stage and post one weekly blog for family, friends but mostly for me.
The questions considered for exploration, How is it? What’s different? How did the coeds do? And, most importantly, how have I changed?
The funny thing is, I found myself reading (more than writing) other blogs from women of all ages. Young moms write a lot and sometimes I wonder where in the world they find the time. Menopausal women, god bless them, write a lot and I wonder from where do they get the courage to expose the changes in themselves in such a public fashion? Single women write without contempt for the moms of the world. Men don’t seem as into it and I wonder, when do they share their stories? Or does it matter?
My own posts just touched the surface of our first year as empty nesters. To avoid getting too personal, I kept looking for the humor in the daily grind and laughed out loud frequently as I am so easily amused. Occasionally, I would attempt to chronicle the humorous and every chuckle was like balm for the soul. It helps to have a husband with a funny sense of humor.
But, I just couldn’t publically share my deepest, darkest, brightest revelations. Those are tucked away in the privacy of my desktop folder for me and only me.
So, what’s it like? At first the magnitude of silence is deafening, but then the silence quiets too. There is still chaos, life is messy after all, but that also takes up less space in the heart. Time is what really stands out, there’s more of it to become self-obsessed, hence the narcissistic blogs. Less cooking, less laundry, less conversation, less, less, less. That’s not so bad.
How did the coeds do? There was the typical euphoria of something new. There was the honeymoon period when all is well. There was the moment of homesickness that all kids must work through. There was the excitement for a future graduate. There were lessons of all kinds, clean, messy, good, bad, shallow, thought provoking, easy, not so easy. In other words, they changed and matured and learned how to maneuver through the ups and downs of life independently. Well, mostly independently.
How have I changed? My identity as a parent took a major shift. Parenting from a far requires an acute skill in listening. I started listening for nuances that are subltle, a change in text or phone patterns, a shift in tone, what’s not being said. And then there’s the temptation to give advice and the inner voice that screams STOP, they are not asking for it. They just want to be heard. Such self-control and often I wasn’t very good at it. I think I’m getting better, however.
At home as the quietness increased, the tension decreased, which is normal when there are fewer personalities afoot. I do like the energy though with a house full of young people. That I still miss. A lot.
I found joy in playing scrabble, dominoes, watching a ballgame with my mate. I loved the freedom of spur of the moment meals, an evening walk or bike ride. I learned to quiet the chatter of my mind. Where initially there was agitation in that stillness, now there is peace. Mostly.
So just as I got use to this new way of living life in its typically fantastical fashion, changes again.
Advice to family and friends who are transitioning the kids out of the house, it’s really fine. Really. Enjoy it while it last. Because it is likely they’ll be back.
Next up, home again home again giggity gig! I cant’ wait.