If you’re like me, then the end of summer meant fledgling season, when the baby birds flew from the nest. Off they went to colleges and universities, into dorms, apartments and run down houses. We mothers dutifully drove them to their destinations and helped them feather their new nests. Then we went home by ourselves.
I was surprised that I felt in a funk after I took my youngest off for her second year at Ohio State. After all, I had been through this before. At first it is so strange and quiet at home. There is no TV or music blaring, there are no piles of shoes at the door, and there are no friends bopping in and out. Her bed is made and clothes are picked up. I missed my daughter’s company, I missed doing things with her, and I missed the project of getting her stuff together for school. This was gone, and I had to grieve in a way.
I moped around most of the day, and then I started to think about why I felt the way I did. I had always wanted to be a mom. I enjoyed mothering all three of my girls. (Remember @DoctorViv‘s post on savoring family time as a Mommy Hoarder?) Truth is, I am still a mother, just in a different way. It is never completely over, but the intimate, day-to-day mothering and life lessons are gone. Now I was on my own. This is not a bad thing, I told myself. I am relatively young and healthy. I can hope to live many more years. So now I have to shift my focus from Mom to ME.
Fellow moms, here is what we need to do:
Be selfish. That is something you are not allowed when you have kids at home. Being a mother is all about delayed gratification. Now we can think about what we want. I can buy the groceries that I like, watch the TV programs I enjoy, not rush home after work, and I can go to bed early. I can also think about who I am and what kind of life I want to be living, and start working to achieve it. Now it’s our time!
Let the vain out. Providing clothing and haircuts for three girls can get costly. I used to wash my hair, go wet to the hair salon for a cut, and then go home to dry it. Clairol, medium golden brown, was my key to youth. Now I am going to the hair salon for it all, and I am going to make a standing appointment! I have never been a fashion maven, but I am starting to enjoy dressing well. I figure that I may not look as good as I did 10 years ago, but I bet I look a whole lot better than I will in another 10 years! I might as well enjoy it!
Try something new. Join a book club. I did that, and I have made some wonderful friends while reading and discussing some good and some pretty bad books. Perhaps I will join the garden club. Take a class, go to the theatre or go to a gym. It is your time to play now.
Get creative. Paint, write, garden, sculpt, or quilt. There is bound to be something you have always wanted to try. Yes, you could redecorate the child’s bedroom, but really, why not spruce up your own? Get some new pillows, a soft throw, luscious cotton sheets and some good lighting so that you can snuggle in and read in bed this winter. Let the creative juices flow. You will feel energized!
Go out to eat. With the money we save on groceries (now that there isn’t a teenager in the house) we can go out to eat with our significant one or friends. The days of ordering grilled cheese sandwiches to share are over! Try new food. Linger and enjoy your dining companions.
We worked hard as moms. We gave them the best foundation for life that we could, and we are still there when the fledglings needs us (and they will!) So rest easy, you have earned this new time and deserve every moment to make the most of you!
Heidi Eve-Cahoon, CNP
Breast Care Navigator
Summa Health System