Learning to Fly

We often talk about children leaving the nest, but we don’t talk about what happens to parents as their nest empties.

This last year has been a real eye-opener. My daughter is experiencing her freshman year at college, and though my son still lives at home, between his school schedule and two jobs he is rarely home. I thought I was going to be ready for this. I thought with some planning and forethought I could make the transition easier. In some ways I think I did. But I wasn’t prepared for the reality of it.

1. I was all ready to go back to work.

Great idea. Not so fulfilling in the execution. There were two really good prospects with decent pay and reasonable work demands. One fell apart after the second interview. It was so disheartening, I had such a great vibe about the job and the staff. Still not sure what happened with the other job. I went for some on the job training, and the next thing I knew, the employer was advertising to fill the same position again. No input, no “Thanks, but this isn’t working”, no response to my emails.

I’m still on the hunt. Wish me luck.

2. I really love the quiet.

This shouldn’t have surprised me, but I really love how peaceful it feels around the house. After the breakneck pace of last year and the attending chaos, I guess I needed the break. Now I write, I paint, I job hunt. I take long walks again. Maybe if I push myself a little harder I could start running again. I think I might enjoy that.

3. I want ME back.

Honestly, I’m not sure who exactly I am anymore, but I’m feeling excited to find out. I hadn’t realized how wrapped up I had become in my family and all of their doings until I was here alone with myself. I don’t regret that. I’ve learned so much about living and loving, sacrifice and joy. Now I need to integrate that knowledge, mull it over, decide what I want in my life and what isn’t important anymore.

I feel a new freedom. I feel restless and alive. I want to fly.

A Shared Space

Emily is attending a college orientation/welcome event today. I’m feeling pretty good about where we are in the “prepping for college” process. She’s excited about her new adventures, I’m slowly making plans for my own adventures, it feels right.

One of the events that every parent faces once the kids start to move on is what to do with The Room. My mother kept mine as a sort of shrine for awhile, she had a tough time with me leaving. My husband’s mom was more practical, she packed up his belongings and put them all in storage. Bye bye Jim, hello guest room.

I’m going to try something a little more middle of the road. Since Em and I share a lot of interests, primarily the crafty/creative stuff,  I proposed creating a shared space together. We’re donating/freecycling/craigslisting her captain’s bed, getting rid of the small dresser, and culling/boxing/storing some clothes. A futon will provide seating and sleeping space for when she comes home, while taking up less space than her old bed. Walls will get painted, carpet cleaned, closet cleared and reorganized. There’s no solid decision on colors or themes yet, but we both have a thing for nautical so we might go that route.

Finally, the rest of the stuff goes in: costumes, sewing stuff(ok, really a lot of sewing stuff), art supplies(yes, I freely admit to a large stash of that as well!), framing up some photos, more things I’m sure…

So that’s the plan. I think when she gets back today we’ll do a little online browsing for futons, and design ideas.

If you don’t hear from us for a couple of days, we’re probably stuck in Pinterest-land.


You Just Don’t Know

My husband posted something on Facebook the other day, and used the phrase “cray cray” (working with college-aged students keep him both young – and – feeling old). This simple comment set off a long series of responses which included:

  • My brother in law asking what “cray cray” meant, because our niece is turning 13 and he wants to be up on the lingo
  • a band mom friend who commented that her kids would be mortified to see her use “cray cray” in a post
  • me commenting that ” We’re mostly on the other end of this teen journey now. We still don’t know what we’re doing. I’m not sure that we ever did…

Seriously. How do we know? It seems like it used to be pretty easy to tell if you had been a good parent. Your kid was active in the community, had a bunch of nice friends, graduated from high school, went to college and/or got a good job, got married, bought a house, had a couple of kids…at least from outside things looked great. 

Our world seems so much more fluid now. Kids are taking a year off to travel. Young adults are boomeranging home to their parents after college because they can’t find jobs. Relationships are “complicated”. A great major from a great school is no longer a guarantee of success. 

How do you know if you’ve done a good job? I don’t know the answer. 

Time will tell, I guess. In the meantime, all we can do is the best we can, day by day, moment by moment with whatever we have.

Good luck out there! I’m cheering for you!


Sometimes People Surprise Me

After a long drive yesterday, Em and I arrived at our hotel. We were tired, hungry, and in need of a bathroom.  I opened the door and was surprised to see a lobby full of people. A perky blonde about half-way through the line raises her Bud Light and says, “Welcome to the line!”

I look around the tiny lobby and see two men sprawled in the only two chairs available. Between them is a small lamp table covered in empty beer cans. There is a large white rolling cooler in front of them, and a few minutes later they are joined by a skinny brunette. She lifts the lid on the cooler and helps herself to a Coors Light. This crew is obviously together, and they’re getting rowdy. The perky blonde says, “Hope you’re not in a hurry, we’ve been here almost 45 minutes.” She laughs, and asks for another beer.


This could have been a disaster. I’m generally uncomfortable in small spaces filled with strangers. Instead of my usual reaction, trying to disappear, I took a chance. “So what are you folks up to?”

The beer drinking foursome have been friends since high school. They spent yesterday at the nearby casino, and were reliving some of their “misspent childhood” (their words) by going to concerts of their high school favorites. Last night was Sammy Hagar. They were bragging about how great it was to be without kids for the weekend. 

The couple in front of me were playing in an adult volleyball tournament. They were pretty excited to have left kids at home too. We all bond a little over having adult kids.

They guy at the head of the line with the giant guitar case? Yeah, he’s with the band. His companion didn’t have anything to say and just keeps looking at his watch. They took a lot of black cases and equipment boxes on the elevator. The Hagar foursome tried to get the guitarist to play. He smiled and said no. The blonde whipped out her cell phone and started searching for places to do karaoke.

To round out our group, three guys from an LA motorcycle club, a young man meeting his fiancee’s extended family for the first time, and a very confused looking guy in a business suit.

It took us an hour to get checked in.  Somehow this crazy eclectic bunch of people managed to stay positive. Yeah, there were some jokes about hopping behind the counter to help out the single front desk person, but we all were polite and understanding of the fact that she had been left short-handed and rooms just weren’t ready. We laughed, we joked, we talked, and some drank beer. It could have turned into an ugly and uncomfortable situation, but it didn’t. 

Rock on, Lisa, Jim, Phil and Brenda. I hope Sammy was awesome.




I just found out that my favorite high school band concert of the year has been cancelled. Held in the quad, out in the fresh air, we always brought chairs and blankets and coolers and relaxed. Since this was going to be our last Music under the Stars, I was already talking to some other senior parents about maybe doing something special beforehand. I had my eye on a cute new pair of sandals to wear. This was going to be Em’s last concert with the band.

I know there will be plenty of opportunities to see her play again in college and in drum corps, and wherever else she finds herself. But for me, this was going to be a pleasant and graceful closure point. 

I’m just disappointed.

Blog-a-long Day 4

It’s a little sad. It’s only day 4, and my brain is a little tired. Not much in the way of inspiration writing-wise.

So I’m taking the easy route, Pet Photos!

We adopted these sisters about a year and half ago. They are absolutely delightful(most of the time…) and add much to our lives. Savannah, on the left, is the ringleader, hunter of bugs, she sits on top of this ladder I’m converting for use as a planter and searches the sky for dragons. Sahara, on the right, is the lover. She also is the collector. She brings me gifts of all sorts: q-tips, leaves, articles of clothing. Yeah, you read that right. It’s usually small items like socks or underwear(I choose to believe that they are clean!). Her most ambitious “kill” was one of my daughter’s little black dresses. It was hysterical watching Sahara gently and resolutely pulling that dress down the stairs and to it’s final resting place in front of my feet.


At least it wasn’t a lizard or mouse like our other cat used to “gift” me with…….

Road Trip!

I’m gettin’ outta town, woohoo! 

Yes, this is going to be a retreat weekend of sorts, with a little business, a little pleasure and some quality nap time.

Need to think about what to pack…how exciting!

The Trip

It was almost 10:30 last night when my son got home from his guard tech job. He was excited that I had made spaghetti squash for him because, as usual, while he was out teaching and coaching he had forgotten to eat. He pulled out the ironing board and brought in his laundry from the dryer and dumped it all over the kitchen table. He’s on his phone. He’s on his computer. He’s charging three other devices(one of which is a charger…) I feel myself slipping into old-school Mom-mode. “No, no!” a voice cries in my mind, “Don’t do it!” My mouth refuses to listen.

“So how close are you to being packed?”

Ah crap. I’ve done it. It’s obvious that he is nowhere near done being packed and ready to go on his trip tomorrow(today, now…) He gives me A Look. I give him credit though, it isn’t The Look, the one that really sets me off. Some tiny bit of reason finds a way to prevail. I gather up the remains of my art journal supplies and put them away. I rinse out my tea mug and set it out to dry for tomorrow’s first life-giving caffeine infusion. I give him a hug good night, and whisper, “Good luck.”

Did I mention that he has a super early flight this morning?

I was having a lovely dream about something or other, when I startled awake to the sound of my son dragging a suitcase down the hallway. I grab my robe and trudge down the stairs after him. I resist the urge to make him double check that he’s packed everything he needs. He’s calm and remarkably cheerful for someone who probably hasn’t had any sleep. I envy his youth and resiliency right now. I just don’t function on small amounts of sleep, I never have. I breathe a silent “Thank you.” to his friend who is picking him up and taking him to the airport so I don’t have to.

His ride is here. He gives me a hug, I wish him a safe trip. He tells me he will text me when he lands. He will probably forget.

I hear the garage door closing. I pop onto Facebook to wish him and his group a safe trip and success at their competition in Dayton.

I smile as I think about how the times change. This would have been a completely different scenario with my parents. I close my laptop, shut off the lights and head back upstairs.

Should have left a light on somewhere, because I trip over his dog, sprawled next to my bed.

Cleo know how this goes. She grumbles a little, so do I and we both go back to sleep.

Keeping Sane

Art journaling is one of the ways I keep sane while the world whirls around me. Though I’ve been “crafty” all of my life, I’ve only attempted to be “arty” relatively recently. My crafting adventures have included a number of sewing related things(quilting, applique, home dec etc.), crochet(can’t coordinate two sticks to knit), scrapbooking, jewelry making…the list does go on….

As part of my transition to a less child-full home, I’ve been taking art-related classes both around town, and online. I love the steady, meditative, precise strokes of Zentangle, the freedom of expressive painting, and the challenge of faces(stylized and whimsical, but not straight portraiture). I like to explore these topics, as well as techniques and prompts from some books I’ve collected and classes I’ve taken in my hand bound art journals. I learned this particular book structure from Effy Wild. The center journal in the photo is my first attempt. It’s about 2/3 full of art journal spreads. The other two are WIP(work in progress…).

At the end of the day, I love to fling my arting materials all of the table and wallow in creativity. It feels good to lose myself in something other than my day to day stuff.

a glass of wine is optional ;>)


Telling Tales

I have always loved telling stories. Over the last few years, I have participated in a November writing romp called National Novel Writing Month(NaNoWriMo). Basically, you try to put together a 50,000 word novel in a month. I’ve participated 5 times and finished 4 novels. I’ve loved the momentum and discipline of it, although I think only two of those novels might be worth further work.  The emphasis of the exercise is definitely on process not product, there just isn’t enough time for fine writing and revision.

NaNoWriMo also offers an April session called Camp NaNoWriMo which offers another chance to work on new pieces of writing, or to do revisions. I was planning on revising a steampunk novel I completed for NaNo two years ago and was asking my daughter her opinion about how to handle the rewrite. We tossed ideas around for a few minutes, and then I said, “Maybe I should just start over, tell a new tale.”

Em said, “We should write that bad romance novel we’ve always talked about.”

I carefully considered her suggestion…for about two seconds…and agreed. We are planning a truly terrible and cliched romance novel!

Is it wise to add another item to our already crowded to-do list? Only time will tell. I think we will enjoy it though. Creativity is always a great stress reliever for both of us. A little laughter and silliness never hurt anyone.

This might not be such a crazy idea after all.