Lori Robinett: {Creating} My Path

musings of a wife, mother, writer . . .

Archive for the category “Parenting”

5 Things I Learned From Becoming an Empty Nester

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know my daughter moved out unexpectedly a few days after graduating high school. Today is the one year anniversary of her leaving. This past year has been a learning experience, to say the least, so I thought I’d share a bit of what I’ve learned:

Breathe. Sometimes that is the only thing you’re able to do, the only thing you can control. And that’s OK. Let the healing power of oxygen into your body, and expel the dark thoughts and fears swirling inside you. Turn all of your attention inward.

Release. Not everything is under your control. As a parent, your focus is your child. You care for your child, protect your child, guide your child . . . but once they fly the coop, you must release that totality of control and allow your child to make his or her own choices. These may not be the choices you would make. That’s OK. Letting go is one of the hardest things you will ever do as a parent. It may help you to have a symbolic release. Write your child’s name on a piece of paper and burn it on the night of a full moon as a symbolic release of control.

Believe. Allow yourself to believe, deep within, that your child will be OK. Just like all the millions of teenagers who have left home before, your child will survive. He or she will figure out that cars need oil changes, that the electric bill has to be paid on time or it’ll be shut off, and that eating chocolate cake for breakfast is fun, but only for a while. Your parents had the same worries about you. I read some advice shortly after our daughter told us she signed a lease for an apartment – that we should not maintain her room as a shrine, because that sends the message that we expect her to fail. It was difficult to allow ourselves to use that space, but it did help us make the mental leap of recognizing that she was an adult, living her own life.

Live. Life goes on. Now is the time for the spotlight of your life to change focus. Your child has been your focus for eighteen years. It’s your turn to shine. Remember the life you had before kids? Hobbies you used to enjoy? Dreams you used to have? Goals? Dust those off and indulge yourself.

Love. If your marriage was lucky enough to survive kids, get to know your spouse again. Go on dates. Watch TV together. Go out to eat. Get to know each other all over again. I have to say, this has been my favorite part of the empty nest. My husband is my partner and my best friend, and getting to spend time with him has been a treasure, particularly since we have never been a “couple” before (his daughter was 6 when we got married).

 

Advertisements

Putting On a Happy Face

Recently, I posted something slightly negative on my Facebook page.

Feeling really grouchy & irritable today. You know, more so than usual. Thinkin’ it’s a good day to keep my head down and buried in work.

A friend responded.

Oh, dear – and you seemed so happy yesterday! Hoping it’s a temporary grouchiness and you’re already feeling better. <hugs>

Seeing that post really did help. Those virtual hugs aren’t just data. They’re emotion.

And that emotion that transmits via social media is why I’m generally careful about what I post. There’s research that indicates mood spreads via Facebook (check it out here), and I have no desire to add to the negativity in the world so I put on a happy face. I do the same thing at work, most of the time. I smile. Pretend I’m not hurting. Pretend everything is OK. And I bet others do the same thing. Does that give others a skewed view of our true selves? Probably. Does it serve a purpose to share those darker feelings? Maybe. Probably depends on why you share your darker feelings.

The reality is, my 18 year old daughter ripped my heart out about a year ago, days after she graduated from high school. Recently, I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of prom and posts about senior events and graduation. Those memories will forever be tainted for me, because they feel like a lie (yeah, yeah. I know they weren’t truly a lie. But they FEEL that way). On top of that, we had to have our 13 year old yellow lab put down last month. And now it looks like we’re going to have to have our 14 year old miniature schnauzer put down, likely on Saturday. If, that is, I can bring myself to make the phone call.

So, no, I’ve not been happy. I’m hurting and angry and disappointed and frustrated. But that’s OK. Those feelings are natural, legitimate feelings. We should not be afraid to share them with others, but neither should we let those feelings wrap their tendrils around every aspect of our lives. Do your 500 friends on F/B need to know that you’re feeling a little down today? No. But a quick post to let people know how you’re feeling is OK. Maybe you’ll even get a virtual hug that makes you feel better.

But remember that there is life outside of Facebook.

Acknowledge the feelings.

And then practice a little self-compassion.

 

 

Empty Nest: First Easter

Peeps - Star Trek Style

Peeps – Star Trek Style

This was our first Easter as empty nesters. It seems like I’ve gone through the entire year marking the holidays, marking the firsts, feeling melancholy about the change in our status. Instead of looking backwards, I prefer to look forward. It is a conscious thing. Being happy is a choice. I chose to:

  • Remember the Easter baskets I gave the girls.
  • Remember the time I got the Easter Bunny to visit Jodi at school.
  • Enjoy spending time with my husband.
  • Enjoy the new freedom of being an Empty Nester.

 

Being an Adult

I’m tired and frustrated. I am so tired of seeing and hearing about young people who want to be treated as adults but do not act like adults. I am so frustrated with almost-adults who have no concept of personal responsibility.

In my job, I sometimes work with collections for a university. It is amazing how many parents call wanting to “fix” things for their child. I’m not saying I haven’t tried to fix things for my kids, but I generally encouraged them to fix things on their own or at least tried to talk through options with them.

But here’s the rub – at some point, that child is no longer a child. He/she is signing contracts as an adult and Mommy and Daddy aren’t always going to be able to fix things. That online college application that “Little” Joey clicked through may well have been a signed contract agreeing to do X, Y and Z or pay a penalty.

We’ve all heard of helicopter parents. I get it. The parent doesn’t want the child to face dire consequences, doesn’t want the child to be hurt (physically or <GASP> emotionally). But it’s gone too far. Now there are snowplow parents who bulldoze a clear path for their kids. (sorry – kinda mixed my metaphors there, but you get my drift. Get it? Drift . . . Ha!).

Somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten that children grow into teens and then become adults. At what point do you clip the apron strings? Even worse, how does the child survive if he/she decides to sever those apron strings and launch into the world at 17 or 18? Does the mother who told me she had to pay someone to give her son a job really doing him any favors?

Mother Hen (courtesy of WANACommons)

Mother Hen (courtesy of WANACommons)

And so I offer these tips both for the parents trying to prepare kids to leave the nest, and for the kids who are flapping their wings.

Being an adult means:

  • Living on your own, whether it be an apartment or a dorm. A dorm isn’t totally like living on your own. It’s kind of like a halfway house for probationary adults.
  • Checking your mail. That’s how bills get to you. That’s also how you will receive old-timey communications like greeting cards.
  • Reading what you sign. Contracts and housing contracts aren’t going to be limited to 140 characters and they’ll contain actual words instead of “OMG, U R prolly going 2 B L8 w the rent & B evicted.”
  • Paying your own way. Your parents and student loans aren’t always going to be there to pay for your granite counter tops and flat screen TVs.

Live Today

Live Today

Live Today

Live Today.

Those of you who follow my blog know that 2013 was a very difficult year for me. I began the year on top of the world, excited for my daughter who was about to graduate high school and embark on the excitement of life as a college student. My excitement was cut short when she ran away, moved in with her boyfriend, and decided not to go to college.

What does that have to do with living today?

Everything.

See, my world crashed around me that Thursday night she didn’t come home. I felt as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest. Everything around me seemed surreal. My blood thudded in my ears so loudly I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t stop crying. How could I possibly go on?

THAT is what living today is all about. Learning to survive. Everyone goes through horrible experiences at one time or another. We had already been through bad times, my husband and I, when our baby was born extremely prematurely. We didn’t know if she would make it. We didn’t know how we would go on if she didn’t. But I put one foot in front of the other. I went through the motions – forcing myself out of bed when the alarm went off, driving to work in a daze, eating because I had to. And when she left home, I found myself going through the motions again. My therapist suggested mindfulness training, so I explored and found great comfort in the words of Buddha and various Zen blogs. The one that made the most sense to me was on ZenHabits, simply entitled Breathe. I can do that, I thought. Tiny Buddha also helped a lot.

And I could. I turned my focus inward, pictured the cleansing oxygen coursing through my body, the dark hurt being exhaled with every breath. My world began to open again. My husband and I found ourselves getting to know each other again, learning to live as a couple – and learning to enjoy life and all the blessings that we have.

Stop. Right now – stop. Close your eyes and focus on the act of breathing. Know that in this moment, this brief blip of time, you’re okay.

Live your life to the fullest each and every day. Find something that brings you joy. Let go of the hurt. Release the anger. No regrets. No looking forward. No dreading the future. No waiting for tomorrow. Simply live.

Live today.

Namaste, my friends.

NOTE: If you like reading this blog, please take a moment to check out my Etsy shop. You’ll get something for your money and will help keep this site going and growing. Thanks!

#TBT – College Graduation

Gate Album: Jodi's college graduation

Gate Album: Jodi’s college graduation

First, I have to apologize for the quality of this pic, but I still thought it’d be fun to share. When my stepdaughter graduated and walked across the stage a few years ago, I was so proud of her (and so was her daddy!). I made a gate album for her using the backs of phone message pads as the base, then bound it using my Zutter Bind-it-all. The album was so much fun to make, and it opens this way and that, with different sized pages and a little bling here and there. It turned out really good, and I kinda hated to give it to her! ;o)

She’s now in her last semester of dental hygiene school, and I can’t wait to see her walk across the stage again. She’s done so well, and I’m proud to be a part of her life.

Throwback Thursday #TBT: 8th grade graduation gate album

Here’s a post about the gate album I made for my daughter’s 8th grade graduation. Enjoy!

One of my hobbies is scrapbooking, which dovetails nicely with my love of writing. Those are two things I can do that really get my juices flowing. Over the weekend, I worked on a gate album to commemorate my daughter’s 8th grade graduation. I thought I’d share, since this is a project I’m especially proud of.

1. Pick your pictures. Just pick the good ones. The not so good ones can go into your regular album, but you want a special album like a gate album to shine. By saying good pics, I don’t mean just those that are perfectly composed & lit – I mean those that mean something, those that bring back memories.

2. Pick a color scheme based on your photos or your theme. My album was celebrating my daughter graduating from 8th grade and going into high school, so I went with the high school’s colors – green and black – and added pops of pink and yellow to accent. I let my daughter pick most of the papers since this is her album.

3. Choose your base. I’ve been on a tree hugger kick lately (not sure what’s up with that, but last week I stopped twice to help box turtles across the road), and decided that recycled materials would be good. We still use old fashioned telephone message pads at work, so I started saving the backs of them. It’s like chipboard, basically, about 4 1/4″ x 5″ or something like that. I mounted 4 of them to cardstock (or mounted the cardstock to them. Six of one, half-dozen of the other.) to use as the base, then I built up from there, using 2 across for some pages and 2 stacked atop one another for others. Just remember to trim your pages that are not the base to allow for binding.

4. Scrap each page, leaving room along the outer edges for binding.

5. Bind the outer edge of the album using whatever method you prefer. Personally, I like the Zutter Bind-It-All, but you could also hole punch holes then use yarn or ribbon to tie your pages together. You could also use jump rings through the holes. The reason I like the Zutter binding¬† is that it is easy to use, easy to turn, and is sturdy. Another note: if you use the Bind-it-All (or some other binder), flip your pages so that the album back is at the front when you bind, so that your rings will be “clean” on the outside and the rough binding wire will be concealed inside your album. If you’re not sure what I mean, email me and I’ll send detailed instructions.

And here are a couple of images:

The front of the album (which is actually 2 half pages):

And here’s one of the inside pages:

Thanks for looking – and let me know what creative projects you’re working on.

Day 188 of the Empty Nest: Being Thankful

Image

Image Courtesy of: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=10419

Although the last six months have been incredibly difficult, and I have dealt with a range of emotions, I am coming to accept the fact that our Nest is now empty, and recognizing that, in spite of the fact that I wish things were different, life is good. If you are struggling with an Empty Nest, perhaps you can identify with the following:

  • I am thankful my child is confident enough to be independent
  • I am thankful my child is healthy enough to live on her own
  • I am thankful my husband and I have the opportunity to be a couple again (well, for the first time, actually . . . since my stepdaughter was 6 when we got married)
  • I am thankful I now have time to explore my own interests

What are you thankful for?

Accepting Help

Sea gulls hitching a ride on the Fort Morgan ferry

Sea gulls hitching a ride on the Fort Morgan ferry

One of the most difficult things for me to do is accept help. I’m a bit of a control freak (give me credit here . . . recognizing the problem is the first step towards fixing it, right?), and I often have a hard time accepting assistance from others. At work, I hate to ask my co-worker to do anything because I know she’s got enough on her desk without taking on my tasks. At home, I DO nag my hubs to help, but most of the time I just do the dishes, the laundry, the cleaning and inwardly rage because he doesn’t recognize that I have no clean underwear.

When my daughter left home under less than ideal circumstances, I felt I had to deal with it on my own. I hid my tears, pretended everything was okay, and forged ahead with life. But here’s the thing: Sometimes it’s OK to hitch a ride and let someone share your burden – just like the sea gulls that hitched a ride on the ferry. They wanted to get from Point A to Point B, and the ferry was there, willing and able to give them a lift. Once I opened up and began to let people see the hurt I was feeling, I immediately felt their support and encouragement, and didn’t feel quite so alone in the world. Others told me about their experiences, good and bad. And I began to heal.

So, if you find yourself trying to fly and are having difficulties doing so, take a cue from the Alabama gulls above and let someone else carry some of the load. There’s no shame in accepting help, and by opening up, you just might help someone else who is also suffering in silence.

Empty Nest: Day 172

Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

A year ago, my daughter was nearly finished with the first semester of her senior year of high school. She was looking forward to college, and I was looking forward to her going to college. Then six months ago, it felt as though she had ripped the rug from under our feet when she ran away and claimed she was “terrified” of us – with absolutely no warning, no fights, no problems to warn us of the impending accusations. Within half an hour, my dreams of dropping her off at college, sending her care packages, and hearing all about her experiences as a college freshman were destroyed. If that sounds selfish, it is. I wanted to be a college mom. I proudly wore my “CSC Mom” t-shirt every weekend. I bragged on her to anyone and everyone. I just knew she was going to be successful, whether she ended up as a high school band director or as a music store owner. I thought I was supporting and encouraging her dreams. I cried when she got the John Phillips Sousa Award at the spring band concert (as did she). So many happy memories . . .

It has been nearly six months since she left. I still want for her what I want for both my girls: for them to be happy, healthy, productive members of society. She’s young. There’s still plenty of time for that to happen. And that is what brings me to my point: there is plenty of time for her to find her way. That is up to her now. I cannot carry that load for her, no matter how badly I want to. The load I must carry is my own. I need to be a happy, healthy, productive member of society. That is what every Empty Nester needs to understand. We have been selfish on behalf of our children. We want the best for them, we want to do everything we can for them, we want to prepare them for life. But when they leave the nest, we must allow them to flutter, to test their wings, and eventually, to soar on the wind.

Our priorities shift from our children to ourselves when they leave the nest. And that isn’t a bad thing. In my case, it was akin to ripping a bandage off. Granted, it was a big friggin’ bandage and it left an exposed wound that still hasn’t healed, but at least it happened quickly. I hope that eventually we’re able to heal that wound, but for now, my focus is on my marriage and myself. It is time for my husband and I to get to know each other again, to plan for the future, and to nourish our dreams.

And that’s OK.

Post Navigation

Buried Under Books

Tales of a former indie bookseller

BOOK GRAPHICS

A busy author's best friend

The Prolific Trek

726 episodes. 13 movies. 366 days.

Author Jacey Holbrand

Hot Days ~ Sexy Nights ~ Come Play

Liz Gavins Blog

Sizzling Fantasies Fulfilled

Corinne Phillips - Fairytale Maker

snippets of inspiration for your day

Tarah Benner

Author of The Fringe and The Defectors Trilogy

Kourtney Heintz's Journal

Believing In The Unbelievables: From Aspiring Writer to Published Author

Savvy Writers & e-Books online

Writing & Publishing, e-Books & Book Marketing

romance festival

Home of the virtual romance festival.