Becoming an “empty-nester” this fall has been a long, strange trip indeed.
I am many things – a wife, daughter, sister, entrepreneur, lawyer … but the title I value & identified most with is mom. Most of my decisions over the last 21 years have been under the banner of “mom”. And I relished it, I honestly did. I can genuinely say I have loved it all. I have 1 child by birth and 2 by marriage. Being a step-mom was hard, really hard, for the first few years but even the hardship was ok with me. I read the books, I went to therapy, I talked to all the step moms out there who could relate. It was hard but ultimately so rewarding.
So when our youngest went off to college this fall, I did not know what to do with this crushing feeling I was having. Even 1 month in, the elephant is still sitting on my chest. For me, making the adjustment of living for other people – what to buy/make for dinner; where are they? who are they with? what time do they need to be at work? is the homework done? – with a running list of to-do’s going in my head at all times and then suddenly, that comes to a crashing halt ….whoa .. it was an emotional car crash.
In the span of 24 hours, it went from worrying about him and the girlfriend being alone for too long in the basement (cringe!) to being 100% all about me. For the first time in over 21 years, the only person I had to think about was myself! For me, it was an insane adjustment to make.
Yes I am happily married and yes I love to take care of my husband, but let’s be honest, men already do this don’t they? They work, make time for the gym, for themselves, for watching football, etc. And my darling dog Winnie is so devoted to him and goes everywhere he goes so I don’t even have to think about her during the day (at night she is all mine though).
I am very busy keeping busy. So the first week I was paralyzed a bit and didn’t do much of anything. The second week I bought a $100 planner (with cute stickers to boot!) and planned every day, workout, meal and happy hour. The 3rd week, I worked out 2-3 times/day. The 4th week I settled into a groove. The 5th week I traveled. And now the 6th week, I have every night scheduled, meals planned, concert tickets bought and workouts penned in on my fancy, new planner (Erin Condren rules).
There are definitely things I love about this new reality – I love not having to pretend to like lame Netflix teen series or share the big tv with the kids and their XBox; I love that it’s me and my husband all the damn time (even if I have to pry that stupid laptop out of his hands every night); I like preparing (or in actuality, buying) dinner for just 2 people who eat the same foods; and I love doing last minute things at night that I choose to do. All that is good stuff.
But I miss being needed. I miss taking care of other people that I love. I miss spending time with the kids and getting way too involved in their drama. I miss high school football games. I hate that life is breaking up the team I built. I miss having the kids and their friends hang around & eat all the junk food. I just miss it.
I don’t have all the answers yet. I am still figuring it out. And I am trying not to beat myself up for not being further along. As to what’s next? Who knows … I will have to take a look at my planner and see when I have time to think about it.