Homesick And The Empty Nester

Both kids went off to college in August.  I was kinda anxious about being an empty nester, but honestly, I was a little excited too.  I mean, I hadn’t been on my own since – well, I don’t know when?  But it was short-lived.

My younger kid immediately began with teary daily phone calls.  It was SO NOT what I expected.  I mean, I couldn’t wait to get the heck away from my parents and go to college.  College meant freedom from parental nagging and I couldn’t escape fast enough from that!  Did you feel the same way?

Well, apparently, I wasn’t nagging enough for him to want to get away from me.  I had to coax him to stay, to try to make friends and to enjoy college life.  Long phone calls and promises to come visit occasionally took up a lot of my ‘free time’ as an empty nester.  I didn’t mind.  He’s my kid and I want him to be happy.  But I was worried.  Then having talked to friends who had kids who were homesick in the beginning, I was reassured that he’d get comfortable soon enough.  So I waited and then I got the call.

“Mom I’m sick and being sent home from school.”  It was a shock as I’d already gotten him to go to the counseling center in hopes that they’d have more freshman who were homesick and could group them together.

But no, the kid came home with a virus, a very contagious virus that went rampant around the dorm, but he was the only lucky one to actually catch a bad case of it.  A bad case that involved him having to be home for almost a week.  And so he came home.  He got his wish and pun intended, he was really home sick.

I’ll admit that it was nice to have someone to cook for and to take care of for a bit.  We talked a lot while he was home and I thought we’d turned a corner on the homesickness.  But the day I had to bring him back to school, he was a puddle of tears.  What the heck?  I thought I had it all under control.

But tough love Mommy knew that if I didn’t bring him back, even though he was really sad, he’d never succeed if I allowed him to stay home.  And the one thing I won’t do is to enable him when I know he can do it.  It was far enough into the semester that I couldn’t even transfer him if I wanted to, so we talked about how we could help him in the coming weeks.  And thus began my weekly trek over the freaking bridge to visit him.

We started texting more often.  He called me or we skyped when we could.  I sent him cards by mail and his favorite cookies as a care package.  He began to make friends, but it was slow because he’d been home.  It made me feel so inadequate to watch my once happy-go-lucky kid be so sad and withdrawn.  He wasn’t eating so I began to talk with him by phone when he was eating in the cafeteria alone.  I give him credit.  It’s hard to sit at a table alone and eat dinner when the cafeteria is bustling with kids.  But he did it.  I’m proud to report that he did everything that I suggested and asked him to do.  In turn, I did my part and made the weekly trip, white knuckled, over the bridge to see him and to take him out for lunch.

It’s been working, little by little, and he’s making friends in class.  Just the other day, he went to dinner with 3 people from his class.  I was overjoyed.  He acted like it wasn’t a big deal, but believe me, it was.  Tonight he’s got dinner plans with the same kids – YAY!

Please do me a favor and wish him luck.  There’s nothing like a homesick kid when you’re a parent (and a single parent) that tugs at your heartstrings.  He wants to enjoy college and he’s trying.  I just wish making friends would come a little quicker and easier.  But I guess when you miss a week of school in the beginning of freshman year when everybody’s making friends, it’s hard to find a group that works for you.  Because you weren’t there when the group was formed.

Did you ever have a kid who was homesick?  Were you homesick?  Any suggestions or advice would be helpful!  Thank you!

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What Are You Afraid Of? Because I Have Gephyrophobia

“Gephyrophobia is the anxiety disorder or specific phobia characterized by the fear of bridges.  As a result, sufferers of gephyrophobia may avoid routes that will take them over bridges” (unless that’s the only way they can drive to see their kids at college).

Many of us have fears.  For example:  Don’t ask me to voluntarily drive over a big suspension bridge because I’ll raise one eyebrow in disbelief and scowl.  I don’t voluntarily drive over those types of bridges because I white knuckle the steering wheel while navigating a major panic attack when I have no other choice but to drive over a big bridge.  Can I drive over those types of bridges?  Yes.  And I have.  But the whole time I’m thinking that the car is going to somehow swerve and dive off the bridge at any moment, with me in it.  You know, like something out of an action movie?

Don’t ask me why I have that fear because I don’t know.  For decades I’ve had dreams of me behind the wheel driving alone on a bridge when the car suddenly swerves and we fly off the side of the bridge.  In other dreams, I am in the middle of one of those bridges that opens up with the the steel grates to let tall ships pass through and I’m stuck as the bridge is opening and separating.  In my nightmare, I’m usually dangling from the steel grating and I wake up before I hit the water in those ones.  Can you say nightmares?

Why do I have them?  I have no idea, but they do mess with my life.  I have often wondered if maybe I died by falling from a bridge in a past life.  Or something crazy like that?  Because I can drive anywhere with no problem.  It’s only bridges that put that death fear in me.

Unfortunately, I’ve had flashes of those dreams while wide awake and driving over a bridge in reality.  And so I’m still fearful of doing it, even though I know that there’s only a far-flung chance that my fear and dreams could actually become reality.  But guess what?  Now I have to drive over one of my fearful bridges if I want to see my kids at school, so I am being forced to learn how to control the fear and get over the bridge.

Depending on the day, I’m still a little shaky once I’m off the bridge, but it’s getting better with practice.  However, the amount of shakiness mostly depends on the level of the panic attack.  All in all, it’s always the same when I get to the other side of the bridge.  It’s like all the tension while driving over the bridge flushes right out of my body when I get to the other side.  The hot flashes of menopause can’t even compete.  And then, for the briefest moment I panic and remember that to go home I have to do it again!  But the cheery thought that I get to see my kids takes over and I smile.  I did it.  And because my kids come first, I drive over that freaking bridge.  I am woman…I am single Mom…Hear me roar!

What’s helped me is facing my fear and continuing to tell myself that I CAN DO IT.   Some days it’s easier than others.  Some crossings are panicked so much that the only thing that keeps my foot on the gas and driving over the bridge and not stopping in the middle is my even greater fear of falling through the open steel grating in the middle of the freaking bridge.

And yet, the joke of the whole thing with bridges is that if someone else is driving, I’m fine.  Cool as a cucumber without fear.  Watching out the window as the other cars whizz by and checking out the water and boats below the bridge.  So what does that say about me?  And yes, I am a good driver so that’s not the issue.  It’s just the buildup of fear.  But every time I drive over a bridge, I call it a triumph!

Do you have any fears that you want to share?  Are you afraid of bridges too?

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Reclaim Your Power

Even if we haven’t had this type of trauma in our lives, we’ve all had trauma that we feel defines us.  Take five minutes and watch how Elizabeth Smart inspired me.  Maybe she’ll inspire you too.

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I Can’t Stop Crying

Have you ever had one of those days when you are just weary and weepy and you can’t stop crying?  Well, I’m in the throes of one today.  There are a lot of issues in my life right now that are coming fast and furiously making my stress levels overwhelmingly sky high.  Problems are everywhere I turn and I’m the one in charge.  It’s not just work problems.  It’s family, it’s the kids, it’s the former husband, it’s financial difficulties, it’s things breaking in the house, it’s emotional sadness, it’s just freaking everything.

And I’m tired.  I’ve not been sleeping.  I’m worried (and rightly so) for a lot of things, especially having to do with the kids.  My hands are tied in so many matters.  I am trying to let go and allow things to unfold, but they aren’t unfolding well.  I’m frustrated.  I’m sick to my stomach about so much that’s going on.

I can’t stop crying.  In the midst of a crying jag, I’m writing because I just need to know someone is listening.  Have you ever felt that way?  We don’t need to talk and I’m not about to bore you with the ever growing list of problems in my life.  I know I’m not the only one with issues right now so if you’re dealing with stuff as well, just know I’m sending a hug to you too.

I’m not suicidal because I’d never, ever leave my kids nor abandon my responsibilities.  So don’t worry.  But sometimes when we’re feeling alone, we just need a little kindness and compassion when we are depleted.  And no, I’m not pre-menstrual nor menopausal.  I’m just really having a crappy day.

Thanks for reading.  I hope your day is better than mine.

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Lady Gaga’s Quote

Some women choose to follow men,

and some women choose to follow their dreams.

If you’re wondering which way to go,

remember that your career will never wake up

and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.

source: Lady Gaga

Interesting quote, huh?  What do you think about it?  What’s your circumstance?  I would love to hear if you’d like to share in the comments.

Me?  I was a “career woman” at one point in my life.  But I was never the girl who didn’t enjoy being in a relationship.  In fact, I wanted it all in my life – career and relationship and kids.  And for awhile there, I had it all or so I thought.

I have friends who are still happily married.  I have other friends who are sadly divorced and some who are happily divorced.  Then I have friends who have never married for whatever reason.  It’s interesting that in most cases, my friends have combined careers with family and relationships or left careers to choose family over careers.  But those that were most career-oriented seem to be the ones who aren’t married.

I’m not sure who is happier because I think it’s a personal choice.  And at different times in our lives, I feel like the roles we choose can change according to where we feel most fulfilled and happy.

Above all, personal happiness and fulfillment is key whatever your own circumstances are.  Just remember, you can always choose again.  So tell me about you!

 

 

 

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Finding The Tool Kit Of Independence

My toilet needed help as it wasn’t working properly.  The chain that connects the stopper to the metal arm had broken.  It broke awhile ago and I rigged it with a safety pin which worked great for awhile until it rusted.  I guess they don’t make safety pins out of stainless steel?

So I went to the store and bought a new chain.  Even though I’ve never done anything like this before, I thought it could be easily fixed.  Heck, I’m an independent divorced woman now and I have nobody to turn to, so I’d best figure it out.  I mean, how hard could it be?

Well, I wasn’t able to detach the original chain so I rigged it to the new one.  But I couldn’t get the toilet to stop running.  So I turned off the water underneath.  I was glad I remembered that there was a shut off valve there – thanks Dad in heaven.  Because at 11pm at night, I wasn’t in the mood to deal with the frustration of the situation.

So this morning, I checked the stopper to make sure that it was closed and after further investigation, I realized that the original chain was getting caught occasionally under the stopper., causing the toilet to run.  I will have to somehow detach the original chain today.  But I’ve since figured out how it works and I’m pretty proud of myself for doing it.  I know it’s really simple, but to me, it is a small victory.  There are still times when I wish I had someone here to help me, but that’s not the case.  I was never that woman who knew how to do simple house repairs because my former husband either did them or hired someone.  I never learned the basics from my own Dad either.  It was far faster and easier for them to just do it and for me to get out of their way.  So I did.

But no more.  The learning curve is steeper at 50+ years old, but I know if I put my mind to something, I can accomplish it.  It just takes time, patience and the willingness to learn.  I can do it and so can you!

Thanks for reading.

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It’s Not Our Anniversary Anymore

The other day I realized it would have been our wedding anniversary.  Well, I guess I should call it my unniversary since I am divorced over a year now.  I wonder if my former husband even realized the date.  I wonder what he would have thought if he had remembered it.

I no longer mourn the loss of him in my life.  It’s been over four years since that fateful day when he told me I don’t want to do this anymore..  Four years later and my life has changed irrevocably.  In some ways it’s evolved to be even better than I imagined and in others, it’s taken me time to process the acceptance of this new freedom.

But I don’t look back anymore.  I am grateful for what’s happened (because who wants to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you??), but it’s taken me ages to accept it and authentically feel ok with the whole thing that went down between us.

I remember being over the moon in excitement to marry him.  That young girl was so naive as to what was to come years down the road.  And I am happy she was so naive.  Because who the heck would have wanted to know the pain and suffering that was to be the end of your marriage?

I’m grateful I have two kids out of it.  They’re good, kind, loving and we have bonded in ways we probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to bond if he hadn’t left.

Do you think of your unniversary too?  How do you feel about it?

 

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