Another Day, Another Kid?

For a moment I actually considered it.

Scratch that.

For five moments I considered it. I admit I’d spent the day in a perpetual state of “weepy,” particularly since I unearthed a stack of Polaroids of my younger son from a decade ago.

Cue the eye leakage. The occasional heaving sob. More eye leakage.

Then hours spent moving furniture (which I shouldn’t), rummaging files (which I should), breaking down on my bed (couldn’t help it), then chiding myself for doing so.

And thinking about that damn phone call.

It rang on the land line – unusual around here – as a sweet voice asked if I would host a foreign student – another Latvian, another whatever – and for a period that could range from several weeks to several months.

I didn’t stay on the phone long enough to find out which.

Empty nest?

It hasn’t even been ten days.

I accomplished my goal (two kids in college, pursuing what interests them), yet I’m dealing with the sensation of a slow free-fall off a steep cliff, heightened by brief periods during which I feel as though my internal organs have been ripped out of my body leaving a rather unsightly and gaping hole.

Very Alien, but a tad inconvenient.

Frankly, I’m not sure why. I was an older mother, very independent, and my children were never my entire universe. But they held court at its most tender center – all the more so because I’ve raised them on my own.

I have love to give, and I love to parent. Where do I put that love? Where do I put those skills?

There are now free “beds” as opposed to the Storage Closet Cum Mattress Turned Latvian Guestroom.

But I have work to do – facing myself as a single woman, determining what that singleness means, realistically approaching what I would like to accomplish, figuring out my money woes, dealing with back pain.

Breathing. Assessing. Positioning.

Shouldn’t we take a small measure of time to think, as we transition into new life stages? Isn’t that part of successfully managing change?

I cannot put a band-aid on the challenges ahead by obscuring them, even if that particular self-selecting subterfuge would involve hospitality, more children, and providing safe haven in some way. Among other things, I simply cannot afford it.

This isn’t about “finding myself,” but it is about facing myself.

Host a student? Take in a child? Under different circumstances, possibly. But for now?

Not an option.

  • Do you know what you will do when your children leave the nest?
  • If they have already, how did your life take on its new shape?
  • Do you host students from other countries, or would you consider it?
  • Have you turned to animals or nature to share your love and provide a home?


© D. A. Wolf

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Comments

  1. I didn’t realize it was your youngest who just left for college! I don’t have the urge for another child, but I think about the void that will be left when my youngest flies the coop. Facing one’s mortality is a drag.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      My mortality? No, faced that years ago, and several times in fact. This is something different. Not quite sure what. Not one-dimensional.

  2. “…it is about facing myself.”

    How true. This time next year, when youngest daughter will be away at college for her freshman year and eldest daughter away for her junior year, Mr. Shameless and I will be looking at each other and wondering, “Now what?”

    I can’t begin to imagine how that will feel.

  3. Wow. Another fab post.

    I love this line: “I was an older mother, very independent, and my children were never my entire universe. But they held court at its most tender center.” It describes what I too feel (but more poetically than I could).

    It’s hard for me to imagine (my twins are only 7), but not that hard.

  4. Yes, “…they were never my entire universe.” It took me forever to realize that my kids could never be my center because it would mean losing my entire self. They wouldn’t like that and I didn’t like that. Oh a random thought for this day of changes.

    I also love the idea of facing yourself instead of finding yourself. I think the term, “finding yourself” implies that you were once lost, but that is hardly the case. Usually, as you implied, we just need to clear the fog in the mirror and really look into our eyes. Because, as we all know, the eyes hold the past, present, and future. (Where did I hear that?)

    Good luck to you as your navigate this new world. I am eagerly waiting to see how and what you do.

  5. Those baby pictures will do it every time huh? :) Another child is completely out of the picture, so I got a black lab puppy. My kids thought I was nuts, but this guy has warmed my heart and I know that when oldest goes to college, he will be the one listening to my sobs.

    Thinking of you BLW!

  6. I was about to write how I enjoyed and anticipated the freedom, and thrn had to think back and remember how it was actually a gradual transition. Three children, going to school nearby or commuting from home and then getting their own apartments. And I was newly single then, so plenty to keep my occupied.

    Fran regularly hosted foreign students for a year, at her own expense. She still keeps in contact with them. I couldn’t have done as much.

  7. I’ve found that the occasional heaving sob is a required precursor to healing, rebuilding, rebirthing, if you will. Keep ‘em coming.

  8. I have plans for when that last one leaves, or I did. Now I am not so sure. I swore this last one in his last year of high school would be just business as usual. Then, I realized I scheduled a two week vacation that will mean missing his last fall concert and his last high school drama performance. He doesn’t care. I have started seeing/feeling the waterworks at the thought.

    I think, in a sense, when that last child leaves – even if only for college – we have to redefine ourselves again, even if our children were not our definition of us. With ever change in our lives – our own college years, on our own for the first time, relationships, marriage, children, divorce – we must look at where we have been and where we are before stepping forward to where we are headed.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      I know what you mean, Nicki. I had “plans” as well – but now that I’m here, not only is there is no money whatsoever for those “plans,” but my energies feel depleted. And I agree on needing to redefine ourselves, or reshuffle, or re-something, because even if we’ve continued to pursue work or other interests, the rhythm is entirely different. And of course, the level of human interaction has dropped to (nearly) nothing – which leads to depression (among other things). I also agree that we we need to look at where we’ve been and where we are before stepping into the future. Well put.

  9. It is empty – it is depression. As you know, my circumstances are similar. No money. I don’t think I would be able to take in others (although I have thought of some of my kids friends), these days I cannot afford to take care of myself. I too have sobbed in the past week. For other reasons. This is harder than I imagined it to be but more about the money than the kids being gone.

  10. lunaboogie says:

    This hits my heart. My one and only leaves the nest next year. Two years ago I would tear up just thinking about it, so I have been preparing for some time. The whole process of SATs, college visits and, the application process, has made it truly real. It is hard for her, too, so I feel like I have to be upbeat and strong and excited for her new life etc. and not let her see just how hard a time I am having.

    So, when I see a class I want to take, the book group I would like to join, the tango lessons, the retreat, the next part of the garden to develop – I say to myself, that is for next year. I will be grateful for that next year and that will be the paving to MY new way of life.

    Because life as I know it will change as much as it changed the day I birthed her. Letting her go is like letting a chunk of me go. A chunk of my heart go. I am preparing, but I don’t think I ever will be prepared.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      This next year is so pressured – and critical. Depending on where you are and what your daughter wants, the college application process is grueling, and scholarship / loan search for the parents, equally so. Take lots of deep breaths, lunaboogie.

      I don’t know if you’re a single parent or not, if you have work outside the home or not – but try to populate your world if you can, before your daughter leaves. Because it’s harder when your world isn’t amply populated, no matter how strong you are, no matter how well you know yourself or like yourself.

      I think our “mom” selves become such a vital (and joyful) part of us, that we never truly set it aside. But I suspect we need to learn to shift it, to take those skills and apply them elsewhere. I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m feeling my way, with more difficulty than I anticipated.

  11. Whatever the future brings, I’m sending warmth and compassion for the empty spaces of right now. I really felt this post, and so hope you might feel ever so slightly less alone along your multi-dimensional road of facing, meeting and loving all your selves.

  12. Yes, rhythms change when the nest is empty. Entrepreneur adjusted just fine, thank you very much. Loves his *freedom* to do whatever he wants. I’m redoing photo albums and ten years seems to have gone by in about ten minutes. It’s been 5 years since my youngest left for college and I’m still adjusting! Obviously a slow learner.

  13. I wish someone would host me.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      The Latvian Suite is still available, Wolf. Very congenial accommodations: mattress, pillows, comforter, heat & air, light with dimmer switch, small table, a few winter coats and boats in the back… But you’d have to pay for your own food, and speak in accents.

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