Posts Tagged 'empty nest'

Coming Up For Air While Little Bird Flies

Has it really been two weeks since I’ve posted?  There was a time (even during tax season) where I managed to post something almost every day.  Either my time management skill have dropped off considerably, or I just don’t have as much to say.  It certainly isn’t that I’ve lost interest.

I’ve been working 6 days a week, which doesn’t leave much time for other things.  But trust me, other things still happen.

One of the big things that happened, quite unexpectedly, was that Oldest Son has just landed a great job.  Today, at 6am, he heads off to Alabama to start his first assignment.  Just like that.

He’s quite the adventurer.  He has a genius IQ, but pretty much just can’t do school.  He had a full scholarship to a great private college, but after the first semester slipped back into his middle school/high school patterns of not doing his school work.

He used to meet people online, and would drive or hop onto planes to meet them in person.  He loves hanging out in big cities and exploring new restaurants and seeing new sights.  He has made friends all over the world.

He joined the military.  While many people struggle through the rigors of basic training, he embraced the challenges.  He grew stronger and more focused.  I sensed a calmness and sense of purpose I hadn’t noticed in him before.  He’d often talked about joining the military when he was younger, but we were skeptical.  He was not the most athletic person, either in interest or ability.  Yet he shined.

His year in Iraq was scarier for us than it was for him.  He’s much stronger than we give him credit for.  He made friends with Iraqi soldiers, enjoyed the local foods, and witnessed first hand that most of the people there were gracious and appreciative.  He has pictures of the Iraqi kids playing just like our kids do.  He gave me another perspective on issues I don’t fully understand.

The military can be frustrating, though.  The bureaucracy drives you nuts.  Getting the things that were promised when enlisting turns out to be a paper chase.  Promises aren’t kept.  When one observant soul learned of Oldest Son’s aptitude, he wanted to send him to the Defense Language Institute.  After getting our hopes up, that didn’t pan out.  After volunteering to deploy to Haiti to help after the earthquake, he was disappointed to learn that they cut back on the troops to be sent.  But…had he been there, he would not have been around to accept this new job.

And being in the military helped him land this job.  He met someone who worked with him in Iraq and knew first-hand how much knowledge Oldest Son has, even without his college degree.  It provided him the security clearances required to get the job.  And although this job may not be for everyone, since it will send him to places all around this great big country, it is a dream job for Mr. Adventurer.  He doesn’t even mind hanging out in airports!

Right now, the house is empty and quiet.  But it’s not lonely.  Big Daddy and I have done our job and we’re happy to see the kids move on to bigger and better things.  It’s the way things are supposed to be.

Movin’ On Out, Maybe

I’ve seen a couple Dr. Phil shows featuring frustrated parents wondering when their adult child was ever going to move out.  I can tell them how.  Charge them rent.

We’ve only collected 2 months of a measly $200/month rent from Oldest Son and he’s already got a realtor out there searching for a home of his own.  I haven’t seen him this motivated since…never.  He’s not a motivated kind of soul.  He’s a way-too-laid-back kind of gamer guy that will work harder than anybody when he has to, but doesn’t always see the reason to do so.  Although he’s been one of the best workers at every job he’s had so far, he let a full-ride scholarship slip away because he couldn’t make himself sit down and do the assignments.  He cares about his credit rating and likes his money enough, but can’t always make himself sit down and pay the bills without me having to remind him way too often.  So you can imagine how surprised I was when he came home from a busy day of house-hunting yesterday.

We live in an area where you can actually find a decent sized older home for under $100,000.  It was like this before the mortgage crisis and the downturn in the economy.  In fact, housing around here is holding pretty steady because the Pittsburgh area was never overvalued in the first place.  You can find a fixer-upper really cheap.  After almost a year of collecting combat pay and nothing much to spend it on, Oldest Son has been able to collect enough money to buy himself a not-so-bad fixer-upper.

He described one he found and I was excited for him.  It was a 3-bedroom, 1-1/2 bath cape cod with a little yard where he planned to have a garden.  It was all brick and had three porches that he envisioned turning into one big wrap-around porch some day.  He actually said that he could almost see himself raising a family there.  WHAT??  My slacker dude?

He has to be away all weekend with his Army Reserve unit but Big Daddy and I said we would go with him when he gets back and take a look at this house with him.  It never hurts to have some objective eyes checking things out.

Then, this morning at work I got a text from Oldest Son.  It seems his dream house has been scooped up by some other lucky bargain hunter.  But like I told him, there will be more.  And even though I won’t be a “wealthy” landlord anymore, I won’t feel obliged to micromanage anyone’s lazy bill-paying habits anymore.

The Boys Are Back In Town

Note to Everyone:  I am not writing this to complain.  I’m just saying.

This weekend, I have been transported to another life.  I’m back to living a life I’ve almost forgotten, even though it hasn’t been all that long ago.  They say your brain protects you that way, allowing you to forget painful or difficult times, such as childbirth.

In addition to starting back up to work this past week (I know, millions of people work every day), I suddenly have a houseful of people again.  In fact, for dinner last night, we had a total of 7.  This is not a bad thing.  In fact, it’s mostly a very good thing.  All my boys, and some of the accompanying girlfriends, were back in the nest.  It’s just different. In the past year, there were many weekends when it was just Big Daddy and me.  Grazing on leftovers.  Not needing to do laundry for days on end.  Nothing underfoot to trip over (except the occasional dog toy).

This morning, I was greeted with four loads of towels to launder.  Empty gallon cartons of my favorite green iced tea and milk were scattered amongst piles of dirty dishes in the kitchen.  I just ran the dishwasher after dinner last night, and so one of the first things I did this morning was unload the dishwasher.  And after I loaded the piles of dirty dishes into the emptied dishwasher, it was almost time to run it again!

Suddenly, whenever I need to use a bathroom, it’s occupied.  When I decide to take a laundry break and sit in “my” recliner chair, Youngest Son has claimed it.  Gathering up all the dirty laundry today has required me to do a walk-through of every room (not just the bathrooms and bedrooms where one would expect to find dirty clothes), and pluck dirty jeans from tables, doubled-up T-shirts off chairs, and balled up inside-out socks from the floor of every room.  Yes, I remember this life.  It’s all coming back to me.

And I’m not gonna lie.  It’s still nice to have them home.

The Importance of Lists

Last night when I should have been paying bills, I got caught up in reading blogs.  And I was amazed at the hectic lives some people lead.  There are some awesome people out there dealing valiantly with hardships and illness.  And there are a ton of people right now spending busy days nursing newborns, going to PTA meetings, and dealing with kiddie meltdowns.  So I’m thinking that when they come across my blog, they’re probably saying, “I hate that lazy whiny bitch.”  Because if I had come across my blog say ten years ago, I might have been thinking that.

In my feeble defense, all I can say is I’ve been there.  I used to have my calendar covered with inked-in notes and appointments.  I ran from meeting to game to appointment like a chicken with my head cut off.  I’ve had curmudgeons give me dirty looks while my kid shrieked in the grocery store.  So you could be charitable and  see my less complicated life as your future reward.

Also, let me tell you that it’s not as easy as you think having all this leisure time.  Lately, I’ve noticed that I’ve become somewhat of a slug.  While you’re out there running around, I’m guiltily sitting under my blanket thinking about all the projects I should be starting.  And then not doing them, because of course, there’s always tomorrow.  So I’ve decided to go back to making lists.  This is one thing that really helps me get things done.

The beauty of the list is this:  Instead of having a jumble of ideas about what needs to get done, you make an organized plan to follow.  I will list EVERYTHING I need to do for the day, from the most mundane everyday chore to at least one project that I want to tackle.  Then as I do each one, I cross it off my list.

For some reason, the satisfaction I get from crossing each accomplished chore off the list keeps me going until I’ve actually put in a full day.  And it helps if you break down each job into tiny manageable tasks.  For example, don’t just write down “Clean kitchen.”  Break it down into smaller parts like “Unload dishwasher.”  “Wash pots and pans.”  “Scrub kitchen floor.”

Hope I’ve helped some of you organize your day.  I can now cross off “Write New Post in Blog.”  Now I’m heading off to do list item #3, “Make Deviled Eggs.”  It just may be a productive day today!

An Empty Nest Is A Clean Nest

I wonder sometimes if I just have a better imagination than a lot of people. I’ve pretty much worked at least part-time most of my life, even through college.  There were one or two years when the younger boys were in middle-school, that I didn’t have a paying job outside the home, but I was plenty busy driving them to activities and volunteering at their school.  And even then, I did a few tax returns for people from my home office.  There was also the one year I was pregnant with Youngest Son, with J not even toddling yet and Soldier Son a very high-strung brilliant preschooler, and even then I babysat for a few neighborhood kids.  So when people say they don’t know what they would do with their spare time if they didn’t work, I really don’t get it.  The months I’m off work now are not enough time for me to do all the things I’d love to do.  I can’t imagine ever being bored.  There are books to read, trails to jog, projects to tackle.  If I never worked another day in my life, I can promise you I’d never be miserable due to not knowing what to do with my time.

I hear the same thing now from people about how awful it must be now that the kids are gone.  Well, I do miss them.  But thanks to technology, I can chat with them a lot.  And I’m not tripping over their clutter.  Nor am I gritting my teeth over the obnoxious sound of Sponge Bob or Family Guy blaring from the TV.  Big Daddy and I are taking more bike rides together in the evenings, and dinners are so much easier to throw together with just two of us here. My mom says, “Aren’t you sad you don’t have babies anymore?”  and I can honestly say that I love my boys just the way they are RIGHT NOW.  They’re still my babies, but they’re just a lot less work.  Besides, I enjoyed them while they were babies, so it’s easier to enjoy all the stages afterward, because I haven’t missed out on anything.

Big Daddy came home from work last Friday and jokingly said, “Are you pregnant or something?” because I was doing some heavy-duty house cleaning and we weren’t even expecting company.  But I actually don’t mind cleaning the house now because it actually stays that way for more than a few hours. My empty nest is finally a rather clean nest, and it’s filled with lots of happy memories.


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