How many times when our kids were younger did we say,”I know you are sad. That really hurt your feelings. I hope
the two of you get to talk to each other soon.”
I am pretty good about reassuring myself when I am hurt
or disappointed. I learned how to parent myself and say what I need. That is what I model to my daughter…talk with
yourself and practice comforting and curious words. Let them know you need help. Let them know you are hurt. A
key is not to be right but to be open and learn what happened there with us.
I think we all teach that to
I was just reminded from an email I got that we can’t be reassuring enough for them at any
age. Now they just need it in shorter words like when they were two. They can only focus so long.
The times I know she could use some extra TLC and we won’t be able to chat, I send her a short email
that just lets her know I care and I am around if she needs anything. It actually makes me feel better.
is the little things we do that heal us and someone else even if you never get to know if that action was helpful.
I opened my emails this morning at 6:00 am hoping to say goodbye to my study abroad daughter who is leaving for
I start my work day then and sometimes I catch my daughter on Instant Message (computer).
I have adjusted to the time difference…. 6: 00 am here is 3:00 in the afternoon in Vienna.
message but an email,” Mom I am ok, but last night at the event my I Pod and all my make up was stolen. I am so sad but
alright. I just need my music. I will call you somehow from Greece. I love you. I am ok.”
This is the
second time something of hers was stolen. Wallet a couple months ago, so I have had practice with hearing her
sorrow. It is just easier when I can actually talk to her. I just popped her an email that I am sad for her and don’t let it
ruin your trip. I needed to do that for me. Thank goodness for emails.
Good news, I forgot to share a
month ago that I was invited to become a contributing expert at Clubmom.com a website that offers practical resources
and community discussions for Moms across the country. There they offer a line up of fantastic experts. Each
expert contributes two dozen articles. I have sent them 6 articles about empty nest. Check out their site. And click on
mom experts and it will lead you to parenting experts, health experts, etc.
Well, I hope I do get an email
from her, but again, and again, I just have to go on with my day and trust if there was a problem I would hear about it.
She’s ok and these travels have been some of her best teachers, and therefore, mine.
I heard that Oprah said that on her show today about her dogs, therefore, her kids.
My girlfriend has
two dogs and a son. She is the one who called me about the Oprah show. We laughed about the comparison of
parenting dogs and kids. We want to be calm and the leader of the pack. We want to set a loving, peaceful, confident
energy at home and at the same time we want to put them on a leash and drag them around if they won’t
Our job is to take them for a walk (keep them healthy) discipline them (teach them how to
make good choices in life), and then give them affection (cuddles and praise). Those are the keys to a happy dog at
home from the dog expert, Cesar Miller. No need to feel guilty if you have to discipline them and not win the best friend
award from them.
Oprah got her LEADER OF THE PACK grey t-shirt from the dog expert and all of us
got a moms or dads t-shirt from the college or army or navy, wedding photo, job world or adventurer. If you didn’t get
a t-shirt, make one today for yourself.
Anticipating the empty nest or sitting in it is a time for re-envisioning and reinventing your life.
process here are some ideas:
1. Keep your home beautiful - Get rid of clutter. Add something you love
to look at.
2. Exercise - To stay motivated have a variety of things to do.
3. Stay aware
of your worst time of day - If your worst time is when it gets dark, plan to make a dream collage with old magazines,
check in with a friend on the phone or email.
4. Be flexible - Take a little risk. Remind yourself you get
to change your mind.
5. Get support - Don’t go through changes alone. Ask for help. Email a friend for
ideas. Ask a buddy to help you exercise, by having him or her send you an email of support each morning for 2
6. When in doubt about yourself act as if you can do it and then go out and do it - Pretend you
are an actress or actor and get into character. What would that character have to do to prepare? How would she/he
handle the fear of being in front of an audience or getting rejected for a part?
7. Curiosity and
compassion can be your two best friends - Let yourself have a good day by planning something that you know is
fun for you. Put it on the calendar and then go and strut your stuff.
You only grow by coming to the end of something and are beginning something else.
Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.
-- Glenda Cloud
Argue for your
limitations, and sure enough, they're yours.
-- Richard Bach
If you always put limits on
everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There
are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.
-- Bruce Lee
discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.
-- Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
I got a phone call from a dad who will be an empty nester. His daughter is graduating high school. He has been a
provider, husband, dad, son, friend... He says the one part of his life he loves the most is being a
He talked about wanting to do it right. He wants to let go and let her really grow up and he wants
to stay in touch.
He is “doing it right.” He is thinking about this change. He is talking with others and
feeling his feelings. He is proud and he cares about her. He knows he won’t do it perfectly and will still be
He truly appreciates being a dad and as he said it, “knowing and hanging out with this awesome
kid for 17 years has been my best teacher.
He just keeps losing it. He gets irritable, angry, demanding,
and cries behind closed doors. He knows they have been close and they have had major fights and differences.
He wants to be in this celebration of life; graduation, the parties, the summer plans, and
the send off.
He wanted to know if other dads are losing it in the ways he is.
great how we can ask for help and say what is going on for us?
I heard Oprah tell the story that as she waved goodbye at the airport to her friends who came for her Legends Ball ,
she asked herself, “Now what? I feel like an empty nester.”
I was amazed to hear her use the analogy
of empty nester. I liked hearing it!
Mother’s Day has ended and for some, it might be the last time their
child is home for Mother’s Day. I think for others, their mother’s are no longer alive or the relationship is not what they
thought it would be and they aren’t connecting right now.
For me, my daughter is still studying abroad in
Vienna. A nine hour difference and cell phones that aren’t reliable. She did send me an email and pictures that
brought tears. The best was hearing her voice, as I was driving in the car. Our cell phones worked. “Happy Mother’s
Day, Mom. I really love you. What are you doing today?”
It matters to me to hear her voice and for me
to hear my mother’s voice.
If our mother’s are no longer here, I hope on Mother’s Day, that you still do
hear her voice. That is what I hope for me. Now my mom is doing well at 86. My daughter is doing well at 21 and I am
happy at 56.
I am sitting in my empty nest with no little hands to hold or jumping feet to bounce into my Sunday morning bed. No
colorful hand made cards with the letters that were always crooked and multi sized, saying I LOVE YOU, MOM
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY YOU ARE THE BEST MOM IN THE WORLD.
My daughter is studying abroad. My
hope is whatever time zone or culture she is in, she remembers Mother’s Day. Isn’t it true that we don’t want to
remind them it is almost Mother’s Day, although we have many, many times. Call.. Send an email. Write a poem. Make a
picture and the list of ideas goes on and on that we tell them so they won’t feel badly for doing nothing and so we
won’t feel badly that they forgot us and we didn’t teach them well to “honor your mother.”
At least I
have taught myself how to be mothering towards myself. If I were to write myself a letter or receive one, I would want
it to say
Dear Natalie,I just love your sense of humor. You say what you mean. You are a risk taker.
You make it safe for others to give you feedback both the good and bad news. You are able to choose what matters
in the moment because you are present. You learned how to take care of yourself because you know exhaustion is
no longer noble.
Isn’t it great you continue to find ways to mother yourself?You get up and make the
coffee,(hubby is out of town) feed the cat and have a chat with her, carry the black coffee in your favorite yellow
mug that looks more like a soup bowl out to the garden and see what buds have changed . You grab that ridiculous
throw away camera because you still don’t want to learn how to use a digital one. You look for the
Click on the computer and secretly hope for an IM or email from Rachael.News on, cat
leaping across the desk as if to say, no let’s play not work. Check phone messages and schedule for the day. Look
out the window and are inspired to go out in the front yard and cut your coral roses to bring into your
You remind yourself, no matter what, get on that treadmill this morning, before you get lost in
writing, phone calls, sessions, and meetings.
I love how everyday you ask yourself how you are doing
and what do you need. You aren’t really crazy that you answer yourself!You are like a kid who knows what treat
she will get after finishing her work and I know some days, you go for the treat first. Cheater! Well, whatever makes
When you are stuck you still reach into that basket of quotes you started decades ago that
sits on the floor by your computer. I bet you also think of a fun meal to cook for the weekend and what to add to the
garden where weather permitting you and your hubby can simply be together.
Are you still storing
mothering treats for yourself in the magic cupboard….bath salts, photos, candles, fine point pens, pretty writing paper,
underwear, silly putty, jacks, lipstick, CD, piano sheet music, magazine? I know you started this for Rachael when
she was in pre-school and now you do it for you.
Are you watching Tivo and eating? Are you talking
on the cell to your girlfriends? Are you planning a walk to the farmer’s market and a drive to the beach this weekend
with hubby or a let’s be entertained, movie? Did you book your flights for Family Weekend and hotel so you know you
have something to look forward to?
Are you meeting a friend for lunch and bringing a surprise, like the
time you had a list of all the things you just love about her and then you watched her lip quiver?
Target for those tank tops to sleep in or Costco for the salmon?Travel magazine to tear apart and put in your
bathroom?Massage at the spa and no longer at home because you need the get away to let go?Therapy
session so you get a reality check that your feet are still on the ground and you are hopeful for the
future?Searching for the concert tickets ? Mapping out a new trail to hike? Not answering the phone so you can
just be with you? In your jamies until 3:00 because you are writing or doing interviews and loving the casual work
Well, enough about you. Let go. Life will show you what is next and what to let go of. Don’t be
productive or solve problems.
Eat in bed and don’t brush the crumbs away. Read that sexy novel and
take a nap.
Happy Mother’s Day PS. Let me know if Rachael does remember from across the
I am working in my empty nest and I hear his story on the news.He seems so calm and light. I liked when he said
that he lost a lot of moments because of his problems and self absorption. He said he learned to struggle through the
adversity and the process of depression.
He has kids and a wife. He knows he is a great parent and
a great friend but not great being married. They are divorcing.
He doesn’t know what is next but he will
make the best of it after walking across the country and losing some physical and emotional
Step out of routines and take a walk, so out I go right now, but not across the country…my
neighborhood will do.
Empty Nester knows children change their minds. We know they aren’t trying to hurt us or be selfish. They are simply
focusing on themselves at this young age. I remind myself. She is 21. I am 56. We aren’t really friends in the sense of
my girlfriends. After all, she has never been married, divorced, given birth, juggled finances to truly make ends meet,
let alone wondered if her career was dead ending.
Any how, I have been getting emails of sad mom’s
and dad’s who wish they had more time with their kids. It is sad. They wish they were planning summer vacations
together like the old days. They worked all year, looking forward to summer away with the kids. Traditions they had
have to be reinvented and scheduled with flexibility.
I too have been in the art of letting go. Now she is
going to summer school 3000 miles away after having been in Europe since January where we talked and emailed
much , much less due to time change and cell phone difficulties. Skype only works if you are sitting at your
I can’t believe she is heading into her senior college year nor can my friends believe how
that community and calendar of events is coming to an end. In a year, containment at “school” will flow into the real
world unless by surprise, they choose grad school. Getting a job will a topic for many discussions. I hope I sit in the
back seat and not drive her crazy with undue pressure and fifty million questions. I have already given my friends and
husband permission to splash water on me. The journey is important and it is not my journey
use to a new rhythm and then someone puts on a new CD. We feel like we have two left feet again…tripping,
awkward, and foolish.