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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Transplanting....

"Imagine transplanting a flower or bush to a new location so it can grow healthier and stronger. For this to successfully occur, you have to dig up the plant and sever its roots. There’s an initial shock to the system, but planted in its new surroundings, it extends new roots and eventually establishes itself more firmly than before. And the hole that’s left behind can be filled in with fertile soil ready to nurture new opportunities. " Linda Lowen, About.com - Women's Issues

I came across this quote when I was doing internet searches for empty nest material. More than any other quote I've seen, this one is the most appropriate for my purposes.

During the years I was an avid gardener, I transplanted a plethora of plants, flowers, vegetables, you name it, to other locals to either get them more sun, soil that was richer, or to change the ph balance of the root system to develop new colors in things like azalias and snowball bushes. I was an expert at knowing where the best soil and light was for a particular flower or plant. For a time, the transplanted item suffered a shock from being uprooted and placed into an alien situation. But with vigilent attention and care, the roots did indeed start to grow and flourish in the new environment. The end product being healthier, more vibrant, and more abundant foliage and vegetable growth.

With time, diligence and attention, my transplantations were successful. So when I read the above quote I realized that having your children go off and "leave the nest" can be an analagous situation.

You've put all the time, care, watering, feeding and fertiziling into their upbringings, with the hope that they will be able to go off into the world and develop strong and lasting roots for themselves. You've nurtured them, educated them, tended to them and been gentle and loving to them, with the hope that one day they will foster and grow abundantly on their own. WHen the time comes to uproot themselves, you know it will be a shock to their system - and yours as well- but with all the care, cultivation, and love that you've put into them, they can spread themselves out in a new environment, take hold, root and thrive. And you can be rewarded by seeing that and knowing you had a major hand in causing it.

Having said all that, I'll take this time alone I now have and start the planning for my spring vegetable garden.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Graduation

Graduation day is tough for adults. They go to the ceremony as parents. They come home as contemporaries. After twenty-two years of child-rearing, they are unemployed. -- Erma Bombeck.

That Erma.

Even though my "job" as a parenting role model has gone the way of the dinosaur ( extinct, but still remembered)since my daughter's college gradution, I don't feel as if I am unemployed.

Yet.

I still feel I can play a relevant role in her life. Case in point: she is coming home for her birthday and texted me that she is bringing her laundry with her. Is anyone really wondering who is going to be doing that laundry? She also is looking forward to a "good home cooked meal", or, if I am too tired from work, she adds, "we can go out." Anyone want to take bets on WHO will be cooking and/or paying for that meal, hmmm? Anyone?

So even though she is now off forging a life of her own, making her own place in society, creating her own niche in the world, she still needs me for the basic stuff like clean clothes and food. I feel like I am fulfilling Maslow's heirarchy of needs pyramid very adequately.

Let'e see: I've fulfilled the Physiological needs: food and sleep; safety needs of a place to stay; Love and belonging needs - that goes without saying! I'm just missing the self esteem and self actualization parts of the pyramid. Oh, well, I guess I do have a job to do there.

I'm so thankful to still be employed. Sorry, Erma.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Guest bedroom or not?

I found this the other day when I was reasearching empty nest topics on line. Click on, it's pretty cute.
http://www.humorcolumnist.com/emptynest.htm

I was out with friends a few nights ago who are recent empty nesters like me. At one point, the topic of conversation turned to our recently flow children's bedrooms. One gal reported that she had painted the room a new color and gotten new curtains, and was toying with putting twin beds in the room, replacing the queen her child recently occupied. Another friend told how her son's room was now the ironing and storage room. She's thinking of converting it to a sewing/momcave-type room.
I applaud these girls!
I am stuck in the past. The last time I did my kids' room over was to paint it and get new linens when she was going into high school ( Do the math: she just graduated from college!) I am doing nothing to my daughter's room for a few reasons. 1. I'm leaving it along because I know she will still come home to visit and THAT is HER room. I dare not touch it at this point because it is still filled to the brim with HER stuff. And 2. I live in the never ending hope that she will come back to us, stay until she is married, and then go on with her life.
Pathetic, isn't it?!
I think this is the syndrome called "Only-One-Child-Mothers." We live in the hope and fanstasy that they will come back, still need us for love, support ( not financial!) laundry and meals, and stay until their destiny takes them away.
Is there another, stronger word for pathetic?
I left home pretty much at seventeen. I came back for just a few months after college to save some money for my own apartement and beleive me when I say I couldn't wait to leave again! Those few months took more of a toll on me than college!
But I had a goal to get out and be on my own again, just like when I left the first time. And I was on my own for 5 years before I got married. I know this is what I should want for my own daughter as well; that sense of total independence, answering to no one, and being able to live in the world successfully.
I know that in my head. It's the rest of me that isn't listening.
One day I will probably have a mom/cave. But I'm not counting the days until I do because I'd prefer to see a body sleeping under the purple comfortor.
And I don't mean the incontinent, Alzehimer kitty's body.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pets are people too!

The following article I've tagged here was very interesting to me.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/09/empty-nest-syndrome-affects-pets-too/

I always knew when my daughter left to go back to school during the year, that our Alzheimer kitty showed some signs of confusion for a few weeks. She'd go into Erin's room, look around, and meow very heartfully a few times a day as if calling "where are you?" . Then, after a week or so, she'd calm back down and just be her normal confused self.

This article makes it plain that the family pet can also suffer from Empty Nest Syndrome, something that I believe now that I look back on kitty's whacko behavior. While I'm looking for things to occupy my time now that she's gone so I don't succumb to mild depression, the cat is also grieving what, to her, is a loss as well. She's used to sleeping next to a live, warm body at night. SHe's used to sitting in a lap during the day, slumbering while my daughter reads or watches TV. Kitty is addicted to being with someone, having someone share the house with her. And even though she sleeps most of the time now - she is, after all, ancient! -
she still seems to really like having someone else with her.

Like I do. The house is too quiet sometimes and I long for feet stomping down the stairs asking for lunch or for a piece of misplaced clothing.

WHile I may not be as old as kitty, I realize we are two peas in a proverbial pod when it comes to missing Erin.
Something for all of you Empty Nesters who have pets to think about.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Erma Bombeck got it right.

When mothers talk about the depression of the empty nest, they're not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They're upset because they've gone from supervisor of a child's life to a spectator. It's like being the vice president of the United States. " Erma Bombeck, Famout Empty Nester.

Husband is at a conference out of town; daughter is off making a life for herself. It's just me and the cat with Alzheimer's here at home this weekend. Truly, an empty nest.

This quote from one of the funniest and wisest women who ever lived - Erma Bombeck - got me thinking about my current "role" as a mother. It's true that for two decades I was a sort of supervisor of my daughter's life, guiding her, disciplining her ( altho she rarely needed it!), and generally making sure that she survived from milestone to milestone. I pretty much was in charge of her daily nutrition, I was her mode of transportation, I kept her clothes wearable, and made sure she was on time and prepared for her daily obligations.

Then the teen years hit and I was a little superfluous. Still needed for many things, mostly financial (!) but not the end-all-be-all decision maker I once was.

Now, with the advent of legal maturity I am not only superfluous, I am a bystander in any and all decisions and actions now made. My opinions are still valued - so I am told - but I don't have veto power for things I disagree with. Truth be told, there have be no decisions that I actually disagree with, but it's the thought that there may be some in the future that I won't have a say in that makes me a little faclempt!

Is this how a President feels when he's voted out of office?? Where did all my power, my "My way or the highway" authority, my voice, go? I now must learn to deal with an adult who kind of looks like my little girl, but has powerful, adult and independent opinions that equal in strength and conviction to my own.
And that sometimes differ from mine.

I liked my power. I was good at being an authority figure. I exelled at making decisions for someone else.
Now I have to make them only for myself and be accountable only for myself.
This is terrifying.

YOu know you did a good job as a parent when your child leaves home and is a fully formed, cognizant, independent, and responsible human being.
I did a good job!!

But sometimes, I must admit, I long for those times that brought me such joy as a Mom. Those good morning hugs and smiles; the talk with a snack time spent after school days; the last kiss goodnite.

The cat just doesn't cut it as a substitute, folks.For one thing, she sleeps most of the day. For another, her breath stinks like tuna, so kisses are out of the question if I don't want to gag.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could keep our kids at one age for more than just a year at a time?
Oh well. Think I'll go see where kitty is currently napping.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Definition

Noun 1. EMPTY NESTER - a parent whose children have grown up and left home.
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2008 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.

It's always nice to be part of a group, isn't it?
In my 51 years on this planet I have been a member of any number of groups and orgnizations, among them: The First-Time Parents Club, The One-Child Group, The Over 30 Clan, then the Over 40 and 50 - well, you get the idea. I have been a leading member of the Room-Mom Organization, The Car Pool Club, The PTA, Jaycees, CYO, RNC... I could go, but it's too tiring!

This new group I'm now in - THe Empty Nesters - is a group of a different kettle from any of the others I've been involved with. This one demanded my attendance. Saying "no" to joining was not an option. Membership was thrust upon me whether I wanted to be a member or not. I became a full fledged card caring member the day my little girl graduated from college and started a life of her own. Now you could argue that I've been a pseudo-empty nester for the past 4 years while she was in college: the house was empty during the semester, giving me a preview of what life would be like after graduation. But the key difference was that the semester always ended and my little girl always came home.
Not any more.
College graduation brought with it job and life changing opportunities that pretty much guarantees her bed here at home will not be used much ( if at all) during the future.
So now I must learn what the next chapter of my life is going to read like. No longer will there be school bake sales, fundraisers, plays and programs to keep me occupied. Gone are the school vacation family trips to plan for and then scrapbook in minute, painstaking detail.
College Commencement may be catagorized as a beginning for the Graduates, as their adult lives and careers start for them. But it is an end point for the parent of the graduate. As it is for me.
So, what lies ahead? What can I expect will happen during this next phase of my life?
It's unchartered territory for me. Scary, mixed with a tad of potentially exciting.
We'll explore this time together and see what develops. Along the way we may learn a few things, figure out a few puzzles and discover some answers to life's riddles. Who knows: we may even have some fun!