30 Sep The EMPTY NEST: One Month Later…
If the truth be told, the empty nest is hard. I miss my children. I miss the noise. I miss the dinner table. I miss the routine. I miss the mess. I even miss the laundry—somehow smelly soccer socks remind me that an 18 an year old boy is still in the house.
I am not used to quiet—or sitting still. The life I have known for many years is chaotic and busy and over scheduled. However, the framework of my life is clearly being re-built and re-defined.
Yes—I miss the everyday rhythm of the familiar and the mundane. But, home alone on a Saturday night, binge watching “Ray Donovan” on Showtime and eating Haagan Dazs Dulce de Leche ice cream out of the container (I didn’t eat the whole thing. Really. How funny that you thought I did.), I also forced myself to sit still long enough to contemplate, to make one of my lists and embrace life where it is right now:
Five Lessons learned thus far about being an empty-nester—-about being on my own!
- Cooking is optional.
There is something so liberating about not having to answer the question, “What’s for dinner?” Au contraire…in my first three weeks in my new apartment I nearly burned down my building, when I turned the oven on for the first time. Within minutes there was smoke pouring out–accompanied by the smell of something burning. It seems as though the owner’s manual was still in the oven—who knew? I had never opened the oven door. Too bad—because I could have used the owner’s manual to figure out how to work the “digital” stove. What happened to a simple dial—and why do I need my glasses to turn on an oven?
- Enjoy the gift of Time.
I have spent years looking at my watch to be home at 4:00—when possible I loved being home at 4:00 when my kids got home from school. I liked the news of the day when it was fresh in their minds. Sports, homework, after school snacks were part of my routine. However, it is actually quite great that for the first time–my time belongs to me. I am learning to love 4:00 in the afternoon. I am learning to nurture myself—no excuse for not taking a walk or finding a yoga class—or returning phone calls and emails. Before I know it, 4:00 has quickly turned to 6:00, and now I ask myself, “What’s for dinner?”
- I can have FRIENDS!
Networking and reconnecting are invigorating. I am excited about finding meaningful and interesting work. It is actually so thrilling to realize I have an entire life in front of me. The possibilities are truly limitless— I am still young enough to challenge myself and embrace the real meaning of “change.” It is less scary than I imagined, and I find so many people I have known from throughout my life are glad to reconnect, to help, to cheer.
- Being alone is empowering:
Once upon a time, the thought of eating dinner alone at a restaurant was terrifying. I once thought those are the people that don’t have friends or family—how sad. Who wants to eat alone? How wrong I was—I am that person. I have both friends and family but taking my iPad or book and being alone is quite wonderful. I have decided I like being my own dinner date. Never mind that it beats some of the other dates I have been on. (More on this in a later blog.) Let’s just say, for now, I am way better company. I really like getting to know myself better.
What can I say—freedom is freedom. I sing along to the songs I like with no one changing the station. I may or may not make my bed. Quiet is peaceful. Learning how to take care of “me” without guilt is a good thing. I am finding the courage and the confidence to “step-up” and “step-out”.
Yes—I miss my children. Yes—I am counting days until Thanksgiving….but I also know that this new nest is starting to take shape—and today I like the way it looks…
Where are you on your journey? How’s your view?