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Registered: 04-11-2010
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Wed, 07-25-2012 - 8:23am
Hi, I'm new to these parenting boards. I'm 46, female and have kids that are getting older (4 kids 11 to 21). I'm increasingly panicking about how I'll handle the empty nest! Help!
Iggy
You are what you consistently do
Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
In reply to: deenow17
Sun, 08-05-2012 - 9:56am
For those times you can't live in the moment, I just want to reassure you that it really isn't as bad as you think it might be when they are all gone. I actually joined this board a few years ago when I was feeling sorry for myself after my first Xmas with the kids all doing their own things.

I worked full time but my life was built around my kids. They are 32, 30 & 25 now with eldest married & youngest engaged to be married next May. The middle lives half way across the country. The change to an empty nest is a slow process when you have more than 1 child. The hardest times are those family occasions like Xmas but over all it is fine.

I love the freedom not to worry about dinner if I don't want too, the joy of being able to stay up late without worrying about taking a child to an activity or to their parttime job. entering the empty nest meant that I could travel when I wanted. It is a new & fun stage of life for us. I had been worried that DH & I would not find much in common once the kids grew up but we are having fun with each other. This is encouraging after 37 yrs of marriage to know we are still the one for each other.

The best part is that you may get grandchildren some day & they are amazing. I love spending time with my grandson. It is a pleasure to enjoy someone without the responsibility of always parenting them.

So as Shirley said, live in the moment & just relax & enjoy these times. The future is good too.

Dee
Avatar for shirley_v
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Registered: 04-29-2000
In reply to: shirley_v
Sun, 08-05-2012 - 11:08am

I'm glad you found the advice useful, Iggy.  Sometimes though we have to keep reminding ourselves to stop those worrisome thoughts because in some cases that kind of thinking is a habit for some of us.  I, myself, have had to recognize when I was thinking negative thoughts and stop them in their tracks, so to speak, and remind myself that they are just my thoughts.  and sometimes too I have replaced the negative thought with something more positive, or at least something  not negative!  Sometimes though we can and should admit our sad feelings, but as Eckhart Tolle says, not to make a story up all around those feelings.  Not to 'feed' the feelings with the thoughts, that is to say.  So you may be sad one day when you say goodbye to your youngest or whatever the event, and so don't deny the feeling but know that it will pass in time.

What part of Australia do you live in?  I remember you mentioning that you are in Australia...but your 'mate' sure confirmed it! LOL.  :smileywink: 

Shirley

 

 

 

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
In reply to: elc11
Sun, 08-05-2012 - 11:22am

I'm thinking that the worrying about the what-ifs may be a side effect of mothering...we spend so many years anticipating the possibilities regarding our kids (especially teens so we can stay a step ahead of them lol) that it becomes a part of us. When our kids become responsible we're left with this habit with no productive outlet. I'm remembering my mom who loved to worry over the what-ifs. Now my MIL. My dh is reporting that she is increasingly fretting about things that she has no control over or are not really her concern (they just have to do with people that she is concerned about). We think that a lot of the problem is that she doesn't have enough to keep herself otherwise occupied. So maybe the only other bit of advice would be to work at finding a variety of hobbies and activities for yourself, maybe even volunteer activities, where you can use this "thinking ahead" as a skill if you are one prone to worrying when you are not otherwise occupied. 

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
In reply to: sabrtooth
Sun, 08-05-2012 - 12:37pm

I think worrying about the "what-ifs" is part of the human condition.  I originally read this in Readers Digest, how MANY years ago I'd rather not say, but I've remembered it ever since.  It still bears repeating.

http://www.inspirationalstories.com/cgi-bin/printer.pl?126

Avatar for suzyk2118
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Registered: 07-30-1997
In reply to: suzyk2118
Mon, 08-06-2012 - 8:54am
How about planning something small for all of you, like going to the movies, dinner out, etc. - maybe make it a routine for a while (mix up the event but have the time set aside so you can hopefully all make it) so you have something to look forward to, but it still permits the daily chaos and weaning of time from the older ones? Best of luck.

Sue (I have an only; when he left it seemed very final, but honestly he's probably around more now than he was in his last 2 years of high school when he felt he had to prove to himself he could be independent; now that he knows he can be and is, he's more human again!)
Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
In reply to: elc11
Mon, 08-06-2012 - 10:53am

Sue's idea of a set time for a family activity is good. We tried to do "family dinner" for a while until it we just couldn't get schedules to coordinate.

If it doesn't work to get the entire brood together then maybe you can manage little "dates" with the older ones sometimes, like maybe meet for coffee between their classes and jobs, something like that.

It really can be challenging but usually can be done. And don't worry too much about when they eventually move out to their own places...if they are in your town you may see them more than you expect, especially around mealtimes lol.

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
In reply to: shirley_v
Mon, 08-06-2012 - 12:42pm

Iggy, I agree the U.S. is a great country....also Canada (where I live  :smileywink: )  And I've never been to Australia but I'm sure it's a beautiful country from what I've seen in photographs - (we have some friends who live in Beaufort, Victoria who we met when the husband was here on a teaching exchange).  

I've got say that you'll teach us some new expressions (pork chop?  Never heard that! lol). 

Now, Iggy, I was wondering if you are experiencing some hormonal changes as you go through perimenopause (as I might think you are going through this period of life now?).  This could explain your volatile moods and upsets (aside from the issues at hand).  That is to say, you could more easily be upset because of these hormonal ups and downs - not that I am an expert in this, but so I've heard.  It's been a while since I've gone through perimenopause (the period leading up to menopause where I am already at).  I can't recall very well that time but I probably was more fuzzy-brained than easily upset.  What you can do about that, I don't have the answer, but at  least if you are aware that this could be fuelling some of your moods, then you can maybe take comfort that in time it will subside and you'll get beyond this period.  Not the greatest advice...maybe others here mught have more to say on that?  It's just a thought that came to me that you are possibly going through perimenopause at this time of your life? 

You can always apologize to your daughters for getting all upset with them, but also maybe you can explain how you feel in a less upset manner and they possibly will be more compassionate and understanding  (not that they need to alter their life completely to suit you).  I stress that you focus on explaining  how you feel without expecting anything of them or blaming them in the process, if you know what I mean.  I think when someone admits simply and honestly how one feels without implicating anyone else, we can then look at that person with more compassion.  But I remember way back when I was a young woman and how my life really revolved around what I was doing and my parents were very much on the 'sidelines' or even in the 'background'.  Perhaps that is somewhat normal - young people are focusing on what they want to do and are moving forward energetically in their lives.  And focusing , yes, on preparing to eventually leaving the nest.  You  have your job to do to prepare yourself emotionally for that too. And it may take time - it won't happen all at once.

Anyway I'm throwing all that out there as these are thoughts that came to mind, and pick and choose or discard what you wish. 

Hugs,

Shirley

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
In reply to: sabrtooth
Mon, 08-06-2012 - 2:13pm

The name of the story is "Wanna Borrow a Jack?"  written ...a long time ago... by J.P. McEvoy, who was a frequent contributor to Readers Digest.  His stories were humorous, but also a bit pointed, and always gave you something to think about.  Here's another couple links, and if they don't work, Google the title.  Another good one by J.P. is entitled "Pretty Damn Seldom" and I'll post a link to that one, too.

http://www.swsbs.edu/pages/writings/Garner/attitude2.html

http://khamneithang.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html

http://www.skywriting.net/inspirational/stories/wanna_borrow_a_jack.html

http://reneesletterstonowhere.blogspot.com/2007/04/pretty-damn-seldom.html

And as a PS: I know you realize your over-reaction was off the trolly a bit, but do try to keep in mind that if you want them to come home more, it needs to be an enjoyable home.  As the others have said, planned outings are a good idea, but even if they just drop by, keep the visit upbeat.  No tears or quizzes.  Just good conversation.  I used to tease my kids that they come to visit my fridge, my 'puter, my cable box and my washer.  But at least they come, and it always gives us enough time to get caught up.  Now they'll call and say, "Are you making Sunday spaghetti & meatballs?" or 'Let's have a fiesta!".  Older dd STILL brings her wash with her--and to her sister's place, as well--and half the time they're here, they're on their smartphones, but we're all together in the same house.  Take what you can get.

Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
In reply to: deenow17
Mon, 08-06-2012 - 9:21pm
I was going to suggest the same thing that Shirley mentioned. Your hormones
might just be making things tough for you & it might not really be your true feelings coming out. Just tell the girls that their day will come & make it a joke. How about spending time with them separately so you get more family time? Lunch or dinner, just 2 of you or a shopping trip with just the 2 of you. If you do it with each of your 4 kids then you get 4 times the family time.

As Sabr said, you need to take what you can get & enjoy the times. I'm sitting here enjoying having my family all under the same roof tonight. It is only the 2nd time since last Xmas Eve and the likely the last time until April/May 2013 when my eldest son returns from BC for his brother's wedding. You would think we would all be sitting catching up but nope. My daughter (started work at 5:30 am), her husband & son (age 5) are asleep for the night. My eldest son & his friend are in one room talking. My youngest son & his fiance are sitting across from me while I type this but one is reading & the other is watching a show on her computer. My husband is sitting beside me checking his stocks.

We spent the afternoon playing in the pool & chatting, then had a lovely dinner together but now everyone is off doing their own thing. I would love to say, this ditch all this technology & play a board game but I know it's not what they want to do. So I just settle for having them around me. You learn to adapt. Some families talk nonstop together & others like ours are just content to be in the same general space. I have also learned to adapt to each child's style. My youngest doesn't talk much in person but we have great conversations by text. My eldest son will talk about everything & anything. He is far more knowledgable than I am but I enjoy our conversations. My daughter is moody & depending on what she is feeling either she talks about a lot of personal stuff in person or by text or she is very quiet. I just follow her lead. They know I'm here to listen or to talk at anytime & that I LOVE to give advice. So we just try to respect each other & give a bit of what we all need.

Hugs to you Iggyx, it will get easier with time. I promise.

Dee
Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
In reply to: sabrtooth
Mon, 08-06-2012 - 9:39pm
Re the hormones, one of my gf's was having a really hard time with peri-menopause, an ADD teenage son, and the passing of her Mom, and finally went on Effexor. The improvement was stupendous. Then, her husband mentioned that the med was causing her to gain weight (NOT a lot, but she'd been a ski-bunny in her youth). Her reply was "You can have me fat and happy, or skinny and suicidal/homicidal. Take your pick." He chose wisely.