Guest post – Surviving the empty nest

Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us today as our guest blogger. She’s awesome, so show her some love! ❤

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When do we realize we have changed? It’s not the subtle changes we notice individually, but one day, after an enormous number of microscopic changes, we wake up and realize we are no longer “that person”…whoever that person was. For me, ‘cuz I can only speak for me, that person was someone else’s someone. I spent 55 years being someone else’s someone…a daughter, a little sister, the prize wife, the do-everything-be-everything mom.

Then IT happened, the empty nest happened. How, just tell me, how did this happen? Why did this happen, and especially to me? Empty nest is the quintessential double-edge sword. If it happens then you did a good job, you have successfully launched your offspring into their own lives. If it doesn’t happen then you are a failure, something went wrong and it is most likely your fault! The empty nest affirms that parenting is truly a two-person activity, because the end result is not a wonderful experience alone.

As much as having a child changes your life, no longer having one changes it. At one point in your children’s lives, you were everything to them. Slowly, they have extracted themselves from your scope of influence. If you blink, you will miss that instant when they stand alone, apart from you. You won’t realize it has happened until you discover that the grocery bill has dropped. Now you shop for groceries for special occasions, when the children and grandchildren come for dinner. Otherwise, always keep freezer bags on hand so you can separate the meat into one-person portions.

The question here is how to survive, pick up and press on.

When my mom passed away nine years ago, I baked. I baked everything I knew how and learned some new tricks along the way. I baked for six months. My daughter-in-law took baking back to her mom’s; I supplied the church socials with muffins, cakes and whatever else would fit into a 9×12 pan. That was how I survived that loss. If I couldn’t be thin, then God could make everyone else fat, and I was just doing my share.

When the last one leaves, you celebrate. For me, it was the last wedding, my freedom 55! When the dust settled, the party had ended and all the extended family had gone home, the house became quiet, too quiet.

Now I needed new coping skills. I saw two therapists. The first one decided I had so many issues that he would need to see me twice a week for 18–24 months. We would spend our time digging up all my past issues I had so cleverly buried. The cost would rival my mortgage payments for the period in question. One session with him and I was instantly cured of any repressed issues.

The second therapist lasted longer. She decided on cognitive therapy; let’s talk about what is happening right now, this will help us work on acquiring new skills to cope with being abandoned. She made me think about personal current events, my beliefs regarding those events, and how I might modify my reactions and strengthen the ME I wanted to be.

When I decided to write this blog, I came across one of my homework assignments. I was to make flash cards for myself. Each flash card had 3 positive declarations. Even if I didn’t believe them, I was supposed to write them down. Each day, I was to read these statements without judgement. It’s the power of positive thinking at work.

I stopped reading these cards some time ago. It has been almost two years since the party ended. My journey has not been without trials. Lots of people envy my life. I can sleep late without guilt, I eat cereal for supper because it is easy to prepare, I use the dishwasher once a week so that the parts don’t seize. People forget that at the end of the day, if I haven’t made a conscience effort to see family, no one will touch me, no one will hug me and no one, absolutely no one, will tell me that they love me.

Today, I still am someone’s someone. I am Nana to seven beautiful grandchildren. As they learn to talk, they tell me that they love me, they reach for a hug and a kiss. They continue to need me, even if their parents don’t. What I plan on doing after they grow up, who knows. Let this be a warning to my family: I may unexpectedly drop by, looking for nothing more than a glass of water and an excuse to tell you that I love you.

~ Dianne

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

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5 thoughts on “Guest post – Surviving the empty nest

  1. Now this made me cry. And feel a little guilty too. You are an amazing mother and one of my closest friends. I need you and will continue needing you every day in my life even if it’s just to bring you water. You are loved beyond words and the impact you have made in my life as well as my family’s is immeasurable. We are here for you and you are strong!
    XOXO

  2. I just wanted to say I love you too. You he been a rock for me and my Mommy and my whole family. A family Birthday is not complete without you and your wonderful hugs and I love that you, another mom to me, are there in every way you can be. Thank you Mom for being so awesome and wonderful. And I look forward to my next hug from you! Xo

  3. Pingback: To Sophie, my mother’s namesake | Weather Vane Sisterhood

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