13 Awesome things about being an Empty Nester.

It’s been 6 months now since Chad and I joined the Empty Nest club. While we sometimes feel sad and miss having the kids close by, there are definitely some perks too!

1– Don’t feel like cooking? No problem! We can have cereal, sandwiches, or even dessert for dinner without feeling like a bad parent.

2– My schedule is soooo much more open now. No more booster meetings, parent teacher conferences, football games, choir concerts or chaperoning. My evenings belong to me again.

3– Never walking in to find a new roll of toilet paper on top of an empty one. The toilet paper always gets replaced!

4– No more chauffeur duty. I actually enjoy driving again.

5– Things are always where I left them. No more hunting around for borrowed shoes, gloves, or phone chargers!

6– No one eats things I needed for a recipe.

7– The remote controls never get lost.

8– Eating out is a LOT cheaper!

9– My car is always clean. There are no empty water bottles, trash or clothing left behind in the back seat.

10– I never have to wait for someone to remove their day old clothes from the washer/dryer.

11– I need a lot fewer groceries so I can splurge for the good stuff.

12– The house is always clean!!

And my favorite:

13– I feel like a newlywed again. We can be spontaneous and romantic. Every night can be a date night! In the summer we skipped dinner to go to the beach, in the fall we dropped everything to take a color tour road trip up the coast. We choose how to spend our evenings and weekends based solely on what we feel like doing that day. I can’t wait to see what adventures winter will hold.

Grief is not convenient

I knew my first holiday season without my mom would be emotional. Especially Thanksgiving as that was my favorite holiday to spend with my side of the family. Sometimes her birthday fell on that day too, as it did this year. We usually hosted the meal. We’d play games, watch some football, enjoy a great meal that my husband and oldest daughter took great pride in making. The house was warm, cozy and full of the sounds of laughter. I thought by acknowledging it ahead of time then maybe it wouldn’t hit me so hard on that actual day. I was wrong.

My mom popped up in my dreams every night of the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Never in a meaningful, make sense kind of way. Once she was in the background playing a flute (which she did not know how to play here on Earth!). She was also in a crazy dream in an amusement park riding on a carousel with my adult son. Other times she was just silently there, inserted into a scene without speaking. But I felt her there. Looking back, I think that she was telling me, in her very Kathy Williams way, “I’m here and I’m not gonna let you forget it!”

I spoke to my sisters and my niece the day before Thanksgiving, we all talked about mom and how hard this would be without her. We talked about my stepdad and how he is coping. I thought I had a handle on things. Then that evening out of nowhere the emotions came flooding in. (I am sitting here now with tears running down my cheeks and I can’t explain why.) I went into my bedroom to try to get a grip on it but I couldn’t stop the tears. And of course, that is the moment my daughter and son in law arrived. Having driven across the state to be with us for the holiday she walks in to find her mom crying. I really WAS so happy to see her, I just couldn’t express it the time. I stepped into the bathroom, cried hard into a towel for a couple minutes, took a couple of deep breaths and went to let my daughter know how happy I was to see them.

This was an emotional holiday for others reasons for me as well. Our son couldn’t make it. It was our first major holiday without him. As a firefighter/EMT I know more often than not he will be working on the holidays and I am going to have to get used to it. But I still missed having him home. And I was thinking about my friend Becky’s family and how hard this day must be for them. Their first big holiday without their mom/wife/sister/daughter. I thought about reaching out to them, but I didn’t think I could find the words.

On Thanksgiving day, before the football and food started, I wanted to walk down to the lake. It is where I go when I just need to breathe and center myself. My husband went with me and we didn’t talk much. The water was incredibly calm that day. It was just what I needed. I talked to my stepdad when I got back and he let me know he was ok. Sad, but ok. I’m not sure if hearing his voice helped or hurt more, but I’m glad we spoke.

That afternoon we watched the Lions lose and enjoyed a delicious meal. We laughed and played a game. I enjoyed our small gathering. I really do have a lot to be thankful for. My daughter and son in law stayed until Saturday and we had a really good visit. There was a lot of talk about Griffin’s arrival and how much their lives will change when they become parents. I can’t wait to be a grandma and hold that precious little baby. Life moves on whether we are ready for it or not.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to check on me. I appreciate your warm thoughts and comforting words. Most of you are WAY better than I am about finding the right words! I know I am not the only one dealing with loss or other problems this holiday season. We will get through this season together. We will handle the tears that come at random times and hold our loved ones a little tighter. When it seems overwhelming I urge you to find a place where you can find your center. Somewhere you can just breathe in and out and find some inner peace. If you don’t have one, you can borrow mine.