Quiet and peaceful defines the empty nest

Quiet and peaceful defines the empty nest

Although my daughter went “home” to New Jersey for the better part of the Thanksgiving break, we did get to spend some time together before and after her trip. And you know what? I’m starting to understand why empty-nesting parents miss their kids. Or rather “young adults” and that’s the difference.

My mother and I grew closer after I started college which I always attributed to her missing me and learning to appreciate me more when I wasn’t home. Sure. How things change when we can finally see them from the perspective of another. I only wish now that my mom was around, so I can share my revelation.

I picked her up on Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving. We went to the movies (only $5 for AMC Stubs members on Tuesdays!), something we’ve started doing fairly regularly in the past month or so because she doesn’t have classes on Wednesdays. We just relaxed around the apartment on Wednesday. Thursday, she slept in while I ran my early morning Turkey Trot and then we had a nice lunch just the two of us before she began her journey back east.

Nothing really exciting. No monumental story to be shared with her children someday down the road. Just a very quiet and peaceful time together. The “difficult teenage years” (as my own mother referred to that time in my life) were behind us. I recall mothers of older children telling me that it would get better, that they grow out of it; hard to believe when you’re in the thick of it.  I found myself having that conversation with the mother of young teens this week. It’s nice to finally be on the other side.

I still believe that my own mother would say the turning point in our relationship came as I matured, and from my new perspective as the mom, I wouldn’t argue with her. Although I think the responsibility for the transformation in the mother-child relationship is everyone’s. Yes, I will admit as the mom, that my daughter is not the difficult teen she once was. It would appear that in living with three other girls she has finally learned to clean up after herself and put things back where she found them. She also confesses to actually “liking” laundry day (“it’s meditative”)!

While my daughter has matured, I also miss her. And now that I don’t have to clean up after her when she is at home, I miss her even more. She’s also less argumentative. Maybe has come to appreciate me? Perhaps. Regardless of what’s changed, I enjoy her company. I enjoy her stories about her new experiences and her excitement about what’s she learning. She’s funny and cleaver. We have similar interests. She teaches me new things and she is my go-to person for help with social media.

Someone told me a long time ago when I was a new parent, that you have 18 years to impart as much wisdom on your kids as you can so that you can let go and trust them to make their own smart decisions. I know I’ve made mistakes (what parent hasn’t, right?). I feel now though that I’ve done a pretty good job navigating some difficult terrain over the last five years.

There’s no finish line in parenting. I will of course continue to be there to support her (and pay the college tuition bills) and make sure her basic needs are met for a few more years. Beyond that though, there’s a lot less “parenting” to be done. And I can now say that my daughter is one of my best friends. I am very grateful for that.

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Alone time with another close friend. Diversey Harbor. Chicago, Illinois. November 2018.
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). Read more

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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