I started a post on the patterns I’ve discovered that lead me in and out of depression when I landed on this…empty nesting. As soon as it popped into my head I knew it was it’s own post. (Perhaps more than one? Probably a book.)
I’m not sure what I hate most about empty nesting, the not being needed or no longer connecting with my husband the way we used to or being bored without a thousand things to do or making dinner no one wants to eat or…you get the picture. I guess I just feel exactly the way I’m supposed to feel – empty.
Here’s the thing, I never found anything that I was truly, TRULY good at until I became a mom. I spent my life with a couple of narcissists who insisted on dragging me down to build themselves up so no matter what I did and how much I professed to be in control there was always that little tiny voice in my ear that continually chanted, “You’re not good enough. You’re not good enough,” and of course I believed it. I mean after a while you’ll believe anything that’s pounded in your head day in and day out unless of course it’s positive. Then you deflect the praise until you convince yourself once again that the voice is right.
Or is that just me?
But then I had a baby. It didn’t happen when I was caring for my sister’s two kids although I could PLAINLY see that I was better at parenting than either my mother or sister would ever hope to be but they weren’t mine and my sister delighted in handing them over only to snatch them back simply because she could. It didn’t happen with Lori because she was 12 when she came into my life and though I felt an immediate connection with her, I was trying so hard not to step on anyone’s toes or do anything wrong that I don’t think I relaxed until the kid went to high school!
But when William came along I knew, down to the marrow in my very bones, that this, THIS was what I was put on the earth to do. Raise kids and love them unconditionally and the best part was that it was retroactive so I could then love Lori and Michael and Theresa with the same ferocity.
And it came naturally. God knows I was flying blind but I didn’t need any instruction. (I needed constant validation but no instruction.) It was like my entire being had just been preparing me for this moment, this child, this life. I never felt so complete in my whole life than I did when I brought William home, laid him on my bed and promptly burst into tears. This was it. This was me. (Wait – isn’t that a line from The Greatest Showman? I love Hugh Jackman. Sorry…veered off there for a second.)
Note: this did NOT happen to me in the hospital or when I first looked into his little face. I was so goddamn scared that I was going to screw him up and traumatized by giving birth that I walked around in a fog for the first 24 hours. Plus I was so wound up about making sure every I was dotted and every T was crossed so that we could get out of there and begin our family that I couldn’t focus. I tried to feel that whoosh of maternal love. I waited for it – but it didn’t come. I actually thought something might be wrong with me. That maybe I wasn’t good enough. In fact, maybe I was defective.
Until we got home.
For the rest of my child rearing years I operated in a blissful world of just being. Soaking up every moment with those stinky little boys. Wiping tears. Cleaning up puke. Listening to stories about school and baseball and computers and video games and, eventually, girls. I made lots and lots AND LOTS of mistakes and I beat myself up but good for them but overall, I was content and very, very happy.
Now the little shits are all grown up and moving away. Not necessarily in the literal sense because two still live at home – one because of his eyesight and the other because why in the world would you move out and pay exhorbitant rent until you absolutely have to? I’ll admit that I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of my house but I find it so wonderful that the remainder of my kids aren’t in a rush to get out and start paying for life (don’t worry – they pay plenty of rent – THAT part of empty nesting I don’t mind.)
But they are doing the perfectly natural act of moving away. Conversations don’t always involve me now. They are making some big life decisions with just a cursory nod to our parental nosiness (and to throw me a bone from time to time) while they consult with each other, their peers, their bosses, their mates and all of those others in their lives that mean so much. It’s SUPPOSED to be this way. This is what Bill and I worked so hard to prepare them to do and they are DOING IT WELL and we couldn’t be more proud.
But fuck if it doesn’t suck for us…or at least for me. I’m not really sure what Bill thinks about it because even though we’ve tried very hard to keep our relationship on the forefront – and we have (36 years on Saturday) – going through life changes you over time. I find myself looking at him now with absolutely nothing to say. Not because I don’t want to talk to him but because I feel like it’s all been said (I’m talking about deep shit here – not the everyday stuff). We know each other better than anyone else on the planet so what’s left to say? It’s gotten to the point where I can think about what I want for dinner and damn if that isn’t what he’s making when I get home – a little freaky if you ask me and not in the good way.
And what do I DO now? I have zero motivation to do anything but work and redecorate the house and look at other’s houses. People tell me to travel or get a hobby (what the actual fuck is a hobby anyway and why would I want to spend time doing it – if someone could tell me I might do it) or volunteer or…lots of things…and I’ve tried. I tried to volunteer with the local humane society but they’re so disorganized it drove me batshit crazy so I only went once. I swore I was going to learn Spanish this year and while I’m still slowly working at it, I lack the motivation required to get it done. In fact, I lack the motivation to do anything.
Traveling’s not an option because the dogs have one foot in the grave and Bill won’t board them so we can’t go long or far. BTW – did I mention the dogs are dying? They’re 12 and 14 so OF COURSE THEY DYING WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME I’D HAVE TO SAY GOODBYE TO THEM BEFORE I WAS READY? I have to admit – the blind one is so cute when he runs into things that I think I love him even more this way. I could do without the beagle peeing everywhere but I hope when I’m their age and I’m peeing everywhere someone is there to treat me as kind as we treat her. But I digress…
I’m empty. I have a hole in my soul that, thankfully and blessedly, I no longer fill with wine but that I still try to fill with food (which will be yet another post because it’s all wrapped up in depression) and sometimes shopping, and my depression is rearing it’s ugly head more and more frequently and fucking with my “wellness”.
And I swear to all that is holy if one more person mention “self-care” I’m going to rip off their heads and spit down their necks.
Anyway, I’ll close by saying I miss little boy hugs and late night conversations with Lori. I miss shopping for prom dresses and going to Little League games. I miss snuggles and baby necks (and baby feet and baby everything) and Christmas morning when Santa still visited (I do NOT miss the Easter Bunny – that is one creepy mother fucker). I miss high school plays and watching Nickelodean and talking about who did what to whom and who is dating whom and trips to Target.
I miss it all.
And missing it sucks ass.