Fleeting moments surround the empty nest

Fleeting moments surround the empty nest

This past weekend was Lollapalooza, which has become a tradition. Two years ago, my daughter and I, along with her friend, made our first trip together to Chicago for the acclaimed music festival. My daughter’s sweet sixteen present was four-day passes, round-trip airfare, and hotel accommodations (and a chaperone) for her and her friend.  Last summer they had jobs to pay (most) of their own way and talked me into getting the hotel again (thankfully, I had points to use).

This year, they had a free Airbnb, 30 minutes from downtown – our new apartment! They added two more friends to the mix and drove from New Jersey. Just as I was about all unpacked and starting to feel somewhat settled here, four teenagers descended onto my new home – while I was on a short business trip for my new job (part-time as Chicago Metro Regional Director with Let Me Run). I came home to chaos and I was so happy to see them.

One of the things I didn’t realize I’d miss so much when I wrote my list of things I would miss about New Jersey, was these kids. Our house felt, at times, like “headquarters” – the meeting place before going on to some bigger plans. I embraced the role of chauffeur. I was always willing to drive the kids anywhere at any time. And even when they started driving themselves, they still often met up at our house.  Sometimes our house was just the cozy living room in which to watch a movie.

I knew moving would change a lot of things, but we were surrounded by change that was going to happen no matter where we lived. I welcomed them with open arms last week and put up with their mess knowing that when the weekend was over, they’d be off and at college in four different states in a few short weeks. The days of kids popping in and hanging out, making s’mores by the firepit, and waking to wonder who slept on the couch last night, were gone.

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Even the dog will miss having these kids around.

I felt such a wave of sadness when I walked back into my empty, quiet, messy apartment yesterday morning after seeing them drive away. Empty-nesting, I realize is about mourning the passage of time as much as it’s about missing the kids. As teens and young adults, we are on the fast track, constantly looking forward to what lies ahead, and probably taking for granted the fleeting moments we will come back to in our minds, over and over again longingly, decades later.

As older adults we are all too aware of time slipping away and the milestones that mark a life now forever changed – even as we embrace opportunities and new adventures, and the revised roles we get to play. I had a conversation with my brother while I was in Ireland about this. We agreed we missed our children as they were when they were small. We talked about times when we felt too tired to give them the attention they wanted and how we were glad we did it anyway; that we would give anything to be asked to give that time now.

I got tickets to the White Sox-Yankees game on Monday night to just hold onto the kids for a little while longer. I have no doubt that they are already planning Lollapalooza Weekend 2019. And until then, I will miss them…I will always miss the children they used to be.

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The last night in Chicago for these kids…this trip. 
My Story (Part 4): Beyond Surviving

My Story (Part 4): Beyond Surviving

I realized about the time I turned 50 (three years ago this coming weekend) that I was just getting started. I had spent my 30s building my career and creating my family. I had spent most of my 40s working a lot of hours at stressful, and some unfulfilling, jobs to pay my mortgage, save for college, and keep my family afloat. I was sandwiched between my school-aged daughter and elderly parents. I wasn’t unhappy. But my life was about the roles I played, what I was to everyone else, being needed, not personally fulfilled. Read more

How to write a college application essay (a parent’s guide)

How to write a college application essay (a parent’s guide)

I feel a little like my daughter writing her college application essay as I write this week’s post. Or maybe more accurately, not writing it. Since I try to meet my challenge of publishing something at least once a week, I’m always thinking of ideas. I have a word document with just ideas. Then I expand on those, usually in my head on my long runs. I will then do a somewhat stream of consciousness draft that I will further edit into the published version you see.

Sometimes a topic emerges that moves me so much it goes from idea to publishable in a matter of a few hours. Then there are weeks like this one where my mind has been occupied by other priorities – including trying to figure out ways to motivate my daughter to write her essay. I’ve looked at my ideas list and a couple of ‘not quite fully developed’ drafts; none of which motivated me.

So yeah, here my daughter and I both sit with absolutely no motivation. I wonder how I can motivate her, when I’m struggling myself. Is there any advice or guidance I’d like to give her that I can heed myself? I decided to first read the suggested topics for college essays contained on the Common App. Maybe they would give me some ideas.

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9 months and counting

9 months and counting

Just a week into the new school year and I am already thinking of the end…and the new beginning that lies beyond that. Nine months from today – 39 weeks – I will be preparing to launch my daughter – my only child – into the world. Commencement.

High School graduation is Friday, June 22. It’s already marked on my Google calendar. There seems to be something fitting about the fact that senior year is 40 weeks; reminiscent of another time not so long ago when she was first launched into the world.

It was a pregnancy that started in late summer 1999 and ended with her birth in April 2000. I recall subscribing to a “your baby this week” email that provided updates on the assumptive development of my unborn-child. The updated version of which I believe will be distributed at the High School’ s Senior Parents Night next month and discussed copiously in the Class of 2018 Parents Facebook group throughout the school year.

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