Inevitable changes – Becoming empty nesters

A new year brings new ideas and 365 days to make them happen. I promised myself that I start writing regular blog posts. Here is the first one. I write what’s on my mind, hoping you can find inspiration and the feeling: you are not alone in similar situations.

 

I was 24 when my first daughter was born and 3 years later my second one. Kinga today is 23 and Noemi is 20 (Yes, you can calculate my age: I am 47.) We were married for 4 years and grandmas started to worry why we don’t have kids. I didn’t feel the urge but my best friend got pregnant a year earlier. I didn’t really like my job at the notary public office at that time either and wanted to escape. We decided to give having a kid a green light and Kinga was born soon.

 

People thought I was 16 – I inherited good genes to look young – but never thought of myself as a very young mom. Until 7 years later we moved to Canada. In my daughters’ class, every mom was older than I was. It didn’t bother me at all. I was just thinking that’s great! I will be still young when they leave the house and then my time will come!

 

Well, this time is here. My older one moved out 3 years ago with a boyfriend and later she moved back between two apartments for a month. I was sad when she moved but if I want to be completely transparent it was a relief too because we didn’t get along very well. She and I are very similar, impulsive and sensitive. She is a strong-willed, smart.  “I believe only myself “ and “don’t tell me what to do” kind of young woman. It’s hard to admit: she is just like me. Looking back it wasn’t easy to deal with me for my own mother either. Now I am on the other side of the fence, tasting my own medicine.

 

Noemi is different. She was compensating for the hardships that her sister provided, she was always the good girl, and the good student and it cost her anxiety and later depression. It took her years to find her own voice and happiness.

We always had great conversations, we organized programs together and we both enjoyed it.

 

My mother in law told me I would be suffering when she is out of the house too. I didn’t think so because I am active, my life is not only about the kids and how would she know anyway? I tried to convince her as much as myself.

 

4 month ago Noemi moved out too leaving a big hole in my life. She is living with her boyfriend, got a steady job in a dentist office and she is happy. My husband and I are happy for her too.

 

I found myself home alone suddenly for the most of my days. In a short 5 years, life changed dramatically: from being a busy dance mom, a full-time office manager who commuted 2 hours every day, to an empty nester, working from home life coach who creates her own schedule. I am no more responsible for what’s happening with my kids.

 

The cost of living is cheaper, I buy way less food and life got simpler in many ways. I like this because I am going through simplifying phases in my life anyway and these changes fit and serve me well.

 

On the other hand, I am thinking of them often. Is it good enough how we raised them? Did we provide enough information so they can be happy in this chaotic world?

 

When I hear good news I feel that the answer is yes. When I hear bad news, I feel the answer is no. I automatically start searching myself: what should I have done better? It drove me crazy at the beginning: I am no longer responsible for their well being, I have no voice in their decisions anymore but I am the one (and my husband) who hears first if they are in the pickle. My motherly instincts want to save them right away.

 

This is the second lesson I needed to learn: I can’t and should not save them all the time. The lessons were hard and got them many times. I paid my daughters parking tickets more than a few times. She didn’t learn and the tickets kept coming. Now I don’t pay them anymore, don’t even hear about them. Lessons learned, for both of us.

 

I have a friend, who has kids who are in their thirties. She told me this: always clarify when something comes up: is it your job? Was it my job to pay for the tickets?  No. Why did I pay them? Because it made me feel very upset that my kid is in trouble. I couldn’t cope with being uncomfortable. I paid the ticket to feel better.

 

This way I prolonged the process of learning for both of us. Now I know – most of the time – how to say no. It’s not easy but absolutely necessary.

 

My same age friends have way younger kids than I do. They deal with problems I dealt with 10 years ago and some of them will be almost 60 when the kids are out of the house. I don’t know which situation is better and I don’t think we have to compare.

 

Having kids at a young age creates interesting and funny situations sometimes. Not long ago I was asked if I want to be a model. She was looking for models age 60 and up. I told her in 13 years maybe but definitely not now! She apologized and told me because I have older kids she thought I am older too. Funny.

 

 

I believe every stage in life has its own lessons. Faster we learn the less we suffer. Attitude is very important too. We decided with my husband that this time in our life we enjoy what we have: the freedom of being alone, the less responsibility. My part is to fill my days with useful work, building my business, meet new people, exercise, going out regular hikes and work with my clients. Writing and photography are becoming important too.

 

We are still the parents of two beautiful, smart and very different young women. The phase we are in is to let them try their wings and when they need a safe place to land, we are here for them. This is the best and the most we can do.

 

Was my mother in law right? I hate to admit: yes, she was. It’s hard to let them go. However, we can adapt to the new life in different ways: waiting for their visits and phone calls desperately and crying over the past that never comes back. Or having fun, finding our new selves, and getting into new challenges. We choose this last option. More appealing.

 

 

Recently, I have been focusing on my own happiness and activities more. Funny, but my kids are more open to come home or do something together now. They don’t feel the pressure as much as before.

 

I close this blog post with my favorite quote from Wayne Dyer:

 

Change The Way You Look At Things And The Things You Look At Change.

 

True, isn’t it?

 

What is your experience? Let me know in the comments!

 

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