It would appear that someone who read yesterday’s post couldn’t believe they had stooped so low as to read such inane stupidity and banal tripe that had them rolling their eyes at my overly dramatic melancholy. If this is you, go away now, because this post is a continuation, though not quite so morose. I don’t write for your approval; I write as a cathartic exercise to clear and order my mind, so get over yourself.
There is nothing wrong with indulging in brief bouts of melancholy on occasion. It should be noted though, that I perceive a difference between melancholy and sadness. To me, melancholy is more of a wistful nature, missing what has passed, remembering with fondness, while sadness is more negative, laden with regrets and “what if’s”. Not at all the same.
I am not sad about my children growing up – that’s what’s supposed to happen! I spent all of their childhoods deliberately trying to ensure they grew up to be well-adjusted, competent adults, so it would be foolish to be sad because they have. I have two of the most amazing kids in the world. They are polite, courteous, generous, compassionate, hard-working, loving, determined, focused and filled with a love of life. Ok, so Brianna never did learn to clean her room, and is still surrounded by clutter, but we can’t all be perfect. I can take my kids anywhere and not be embarrassed by them. People tell me I have done a great job raising them. I have no regrets, no “what-if’s”, no sadness, only happy memories, joy, and pride in their achievements – I did my job well and they have turned out great! So much lies ahead for both of them.
I received a wonderful compliment today from someone who had spent some time in my home while my kids were young. She said that she had seen an aspect of parenting she had never experienced before – my children were enjoyed and treated with respect. She said that the way I “did family” impacts her to this day and that some incidents she witnessed influence her own parenting even now. Wow. All I could say was wow. I had no idea. She reinforced my sense of having done a good job raising my kids, and for that I want to thank her immensely.
Life is a series of changes. We begin school, we graduate, we begin work, we change jobs, we get married, we buy a house, we start a family, and the list goes on. Each of those changes requires an adjustment period, some more than others. I remember the months after I was married and left my parents’ home for the first time. I have never felt so disoriented in my life. Yes it was all new and exciting, but I was trying to work out my place in the world, and sort out my roles in this new life. It was an intense adjustment period.
When my father died I was only 27 and his loss affected me greatly. I was at loose ends for months.
Then again after Brianna was born. I had quit my job to stay home with this demanding, squalling little thing and I hadn’t quite figured out who and what I was becoming. That disorientation lasted damn near a year before I really felt like I had a handle on life again.
Another major adjustment occurred after that first marriage ended. I was so busy trying to hold everything together and keep my head above water that I don’t think I recognized it at the time as an adjustment period. I do now.
After I married Stephen two years ago I went through yet another adjustment period. Although we had been together for over three years, and he spent all his free time at my house, we didn’t formally move in together until the month we married. I had been single for five years, living with MY kids in MY house, paying MY bills with MY salary, and generally making all the decisions on my own. Sharing my life again with a true partner wasn’t an easy adjustment and there were times I felt a bit adrift and disoriented. Stephen commented once that he though that perhaps I didn’t quite feel married. He may have been been right. It took nearly a year for me to adjust, but now it’s OUR kids in OUR house, and he pays OUR bills with HIS salary, lol, and we make the decisions together. The point being – adjustment period.
This onset of the empty nest syndrome is no different. It is going to be an adjustment period, at the end of which I will look back and see how far I’ve come. The subtle difference is that this time I know it’s coming and I can prepare for it. I can anticipate what will likely be the most difficult hurdles, and Stephen and I have already begun to discuss coping strategies for those hurdles. For example. I hate to cook. Passionately, fully despise all aspects of food preparation. I cook in order to keep my kids alive. If I don’t have someone to cook for, I guarantee my dinner will be whatever I can grab to snack on when I’m hungry. A peanut butter sandwich will work. That’s not good. So, knowing in advance that it will be an issue, we can work out how to get around it. Stephen loves to cook and prepares food to take with him on the road in the truck. One of our plans involves him cooking a double batch of whatever and leaving it in the fridge in containers for me to just pull out and microwave.
Thus I am not looking at this empty nest period with sadness and dread, but rather with expectation and joy. I am delighted that my children have grown and are flying on their own wings and I am anticipating the changes and freedoms this will mean for me. My friend commented that it sounds like I am “rearranging the pieces” of my life, and she’s right. I will have time to try new things, resurrect old hobbies, travel, and honestly enjoy the lifting of the mantel of “Mom”, and relaxing into being the wife, lover and partner of my husband as we move ahead into this next phase of our lives.