The Pendulum of Care


Winter Warmth

Parenthood is a strange thing. Stranger even than marriage (surely the person who came up with that idea didn’t understand human caprices) since all parenting ties are undeclared, and are either supportive or subversive, subliminal or coerced. What’s a mother to do when you aim for independence and then have to live with what you have sown so successfully?


We parents who find that our nests have emptied are like trees in winter, all naked and exposed, pitching in the wind back and forward, just not standing in the bareness of now. What the heck are we? Are we trees or are we twigs? Are we parents or people of the world who didn’t need those kids before they came and surely can survive without them cluttering up our lives with all their desperations and dreams? Those who race to redo their children’s bedrooms might not understand what’s going on in my mind and life, but I bet they get it. Yes, I think they face it by pretending that they’re facing it, but they’re really ignoring it. That’s why the formerly postered bedrooms in their homes become bare so quickly, the pain of emptiness is too hard to face.


It’s odd to say, but it kind of feels like having an ex’s presence around all of the time. You know what I mean: you can’t forget them because they were an important part of your life, but you darn well know that you need to move on. You can remember Saturdays that used to be a frenzy of practices and games and friends and parties and shopping, but that’s all gone. It’s suddenly all about you when it never was when they were around. Like I said, like having an ex around.


The divide from life in 1991, birth of older daughter, to 2013, younger daughter off to college, is massive. Then I was married, living in Israel, working in high tech and now I’m divorced, living in Virginia, and teaching from books. It’s like I need to move back into a house I moved out of 23 years ago which I only glimpsed when driving quickly past. Or maybe it’s like I’m my own unknown third child; you know, the quiet kid who no one seems to pay attention to, but now that the other kids are gone, I have been discovered. Yes. Maybe that’s the key, to treat myself like a treat, as I did with my daughters, and not as an intruder.


And if that is to be the case, then I should learn to look on myself with anticipation and pride, and not with the always-ready disappointment and futility that it’s just me, and, yes, table for ONE. 



Laura, the thought that terrifies me the most about becoming a mother whose nest is empty--which will be happening in about five months or so--is that the best, most joyful years of my life have already happened. (This is the first time I've verbalized this thought anywhere.) Okay, ridiculous; right? It sounds so pathetic. But I look back on the years when my son was little--I was still youngish myself, had more energy physically--he was full of light and life. Everything new. Each day a little adventure.

Now I must figure out how to redefine myself.

Intellectually, I know we'll remain close. But it's not the same.

It's painful looking back on perceived better times, like ripping away a bandage. Maybe this is why some people only look forward, to avoid the pain.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

I realized when I read your comment that when my older daughter went to college, we moved out of the marital residence, which was a blessing. And when my younger daughter went to college, I got to buy my own apartment. So for me, their leavings were wrapped up in new and exciting things for me, which is surely why it hasn't been as hard as it might be for you when your son leaves. Also, I got to wean myself a bit with one going, and adjusting to that before it was really an empty nest.

Redefine within your space. That's probably what needs to be done. Hard, but necessary--what will happen even if you don't actively seek out the change.


Good advice. I am open to new possibilities. Here's hoping that something will turn up in which I can immerse myself in a positive way. I don't want to have time on my hands to spend moping around.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

There is always time to mope! Maybe the moping will lead to the possibility? All the best in finding something to immerse yourself into.

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