I couldn’t wait for it. I was ready for it… empty nest that is. After 32 years of being the parent to all the children, I was ready to be just me and just us (me and him). During the 32 years of still being hands on parenting, we also became grandparents to 4 little lovelies….our wonderful grandchildren, so it was pretty much a revolving door kind of house that we lived in.
When we moved away, 8 months ago now, to this new area, 3 hours away from our now grown up children and the semi departed child (living away and in college), it was an exciting new adventure for us.
At first it was busy, busy busy. The other half was recovering from open heart surgery, I was dealing with a significant bereavement and trying to organise our new house and get our furniture etc transported up after the decorating was done.
We enjoyed the ‘newness’ of the new house, the new surroundings, the peace and quiet and discovering new people and places.
Somewhere along the way though came some pretty big lows amongst the highs. Was the holiday period over? What happened to make the cracks appear?
I could sense something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly. I decided to get a new job, part time. That gave me a new focus. A new way to meet people and a new purpose in my week to ‘fill the gap’. It soon became my little bit of sunshine.
What empty nest showed me, or magnified to me, was that all that noise and doing, and to-ing and fro-ing and sorting was part of who I am as a person and suddenly, what was left was a gaping hole.
We suddenly became him and me and as much as we each had our own hobbies and were happy for the other to participate in said hobbies, I noticed a distinct lack of conversation. I mean real chatty conversation. Sure there was chatter, at certain times of the day, but not much.
I was quietly dealing with my grief, when slap bang in the middle of that I unexpectedly lost my father too. It was like another belt in the stomach. I could feel myself retreat.
When you are married there are things you love about each other and there are things you do not like about each other. During my low times I really didn’t like those things that I didn’t like in the first place, even more. I had no tolerance, no motivation, no space to deal with the things I did not like.
Sometimes it is easier to withdraw, make yourself absent and not engage in conversation at all, especially when you feel weary.
I would be and am thankful for lots of things in my life, but sometimes the effort required to carry on, along a road that is very bumpy, is very difficult. But that is exactly what is required…..Effort, Determination, Motivation.
Everyone needs a little bit of sunshine to cheer them up and help them through the tough days. Life seems easier when the sun is shining.
I have experienced a year that involved two significant deaths, a house move, a serious life threatening operation of my other half and empty nest. Was I foolish to think that I could sail through it all, without there being some lows? I think I was.
I am a strong person, but there were times over this last couple of months that I wanted to throw the towel in and start again, on my own. Be on my own, Completely. Not because I don’t love my other half, but because I just needed time to find myself again, as me, a person.
So, I took a holiday without him. I also took a holiday away with him and was able and determined to tell him how I was feeling about everything. Told him how the things I don’t like about him, impacted me, how that just because I am not wailing and crying everyday, doesn’t mean I am not grieving. I just grieve in my own quiet way. I was able to have a conversation with him about the conversations we should be having.
I was able to say that I was afraid that the empty nest exposed what was left and wasn’t sure if we were enough, if we didn’t put the effort in to each other, to reconnect with each other, appreciate each other, understand each other, because along the way of being parents, the children and child rearing dilute the family dynamic.
I have no desire to want a house full of children, but when they come to visit and stay a few days, I love it. We love it. We get to spend good quality time with them, treat them and the grand children and enjoy our time together, but what is also very important, is to spend good quality time with each other, not take the other for granted and understand how we impact on each other with what we do or don’t say and with what we do or don’t do.
Sometimes it is like climbing a mountain and you think you will never get to the top and other times, it is like sailing on the breeze without a ripple. I guess that is the balance.
Habits are easily made and hard to break. It is easy to become complacent and take things and people for granted, but sometimes, you just have to rock that boat, break the bad habits, and look out to a new horizon with fresh eyes and motivation.
Happy empty nest everyone……… Do not expect plain sailing and learn to ride the storm…..
“your child’s life will be filled with fresh experiences. It’s good if yours is as well”Dr. Margaret Rutherford