Jack’s Graduation Video: A Look Back at my Favorite Part of 2016

For my faraway family and pals, our holiday letter says that if folks want to see my labor of love, the gratitude life video that I put together for Jack’s graduation back in May, check my blog.  So here it is for those looking for it.  I have been told to warn that some may need a tissue because my mama heart took over more than once as I created this video celebrating our first born’s first 18 years. So much fun!  I just watched it again, after not seeing it for five months and the tears fell!  My favorite parts are the little sister chapter, the grandparents chapter, the milestones and the cool surprise at the very end.

College Check-In & My Son’s Play by Play Announcing!

                    Very proud Mama!

Back in August I was blogging quite a bit about my son going off to college.  Five months later, I am happy to report that his first semester was a success!  His adjustment period was short and he was off and running faster than I expected, a wonderful and pleasant surprise.

I am sure it is easier for him than many others since he stayed in state and lives in the dorm that is just across town from our home.  But, I kid you not, even though he stayed local, he has only been home to sleep overnight twice!  Once when his wisdom teeth were extracted (not a fun visit) and then again for Thanksgiving.  And we loved that he asked us to host several new friends he made in college since it would be so far for them to travel home.  We got to meet his nice new pals and they told us that they thoroughly enjoyed our visit.  They appreciated a home cooked meal and just being…well…relaxed…in a home as opposed to their cramped (but exciting and fun) dorm rooms. 
They all told us that they missed their families and homes and that spending time with us, in the house that our boy grew up in, made them excited to plan their own Christmas trips home. They are from San Francisco, Connecticut and Boston.  Our boy making such nice new friends is one reason that he has adjusted so well.

I also believe that his smooth transition is because I took my husband’s advice and “let him be”…not easy for the mamas, I know!  However, I truly acted like he had gone far away to college.  I resisted the urge to drive to his dorm to see him, sent him a care package and checked in weekly via text messages.  When he needed me for the wisdom teeth weekend and other situations, I was here and he knew it.  This system has worked well.

My husband took him to lunch a few times and that was nice for both of them.  The deeper the semester progressed, the less they lunched.  Again, my hubs let him be and happily accepted that as a sign that our boy was thriving and not needing his parents as much as the semester wore on.

I am very happy to report that our Jack earned straight As and is on the Dean’s List, so the first semester grade book is a success!

I am also super excited to report that although my son doesn’t always want to hear my advice (this is a normal response that especially hits around 18 when they want to make their own decisions) he did listen to one of my nuggets of advice. Since he is studying sports journalism and my degree is in journalism, I stressed to him how important internships and experience will be as he is working towards, hopefully, being employed upon graduation in a very competitive field.  I stressed this to him a couple of times and then I backed off and left it up to him.  Success! He is doing some of the play by play announcing for ASU hockey and he also accepted a paid internship with a local sports organization! Here are two :30 second clips of his announcing gig. We are SO proud and excited for him!

So for those of you parents with high school seniors who may be a bit anxious about what next year brings, I can tell you to enjoy your time with your kiddo now.  The rest of senior year will fly right by followed by the exciting and busy graduation season.  Then a few quiet weekends in the summer followed by the college move frenzy.  Take it one step at a time, take it in, support your senior, then help your new college freshman fly the nest gently, while paying attention to how he or she needs you to react and behave as the transition is made.  You are also adjusting, so give yourself some understanding as well.

As the ASU guidance counselors told us at orientation, you will probably hear from them a lot at first and then less and less.  When that happens, take comfort in knowing that their transition from home to college, resulting in less communication with the parents, means that you did your job.  You did your job well.  Through the many joys, laughs, challenges, tears and memories that raising a child takes us through, you laid the roots and now they spread their wings and fly.  Now through college, your job is to help them along, sort of like a quiet, but disciplined co-pilot, as they take flight…and hopefully four years later…soar.  Really soar!  How wonderful it will be to see them soar!  And they will fly home at times. To their home base, to their roots to see you.  To love you.  To thank you.

Now back to our freshman year.  Our boy will be home in a two days to celebrate Christmas with us. We will cherish our time with him, have some fun and then watch him fly back to the dorm to conquer his second semester of his first year in college.  We hope he will continue to conquer it, as that is up to him.  So far, so good.

We are thankful! 

My Black Eye Story & Boiron Arnicare Gel to the Rescue

Manic:  Me!  My former boss once lovingly gave me the nickname, Calamity and it still sticks, I must admit. When I saw her recently and reported to her that I gave myself a shiner (details below), she wasn’t surprised!  blk-eyeAnd of course, I did this the same week that my daughter was set to perform in the summer musical production we had been anticipating. 13Hiding out while my eye healed wasn’t an option.  Because that is what mothers do.  We keep going.

Managed:  I followed the healing plan advice of both my mom and my mother-in-law.  I am incredibly blessed to have these two amazing women in my life and although we all live far apart, we communicate regularly and I benefit from that, let me tell you.  I applied an ice pack that first night, 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off, for the next few hours.  But I really like homeopathic remedies and my own mother certainly raised me that way.  I wish I would have remembered that first evening that I had a fresh tube of Boiron Arnicare Gel on hand, but I didn’t.  Arnicare-Gel-5thPanel-left-800Several days later, and after a lot of agonizing about just how bad my eye looked, I remembered!  And it made a big difference.

But first let me tell you how I got my impressive shiner in the first place.  It was a tale of me against the glass dining room table.  Here is a photo of the enemy and guess who won?!  Not me!

Yes the corner of that table was a painful collision!

The corner of that table was a painful collision!  Calamity in action.

When one of our kitty cats ran under the table, I bent down to get her.  I came up too quickly, failing to navigate my return to standing.  I never made it to standing.  Falling and clutching my eye is what happened next instead. I knew it was going to be bad because it was quite the blow.  At first it didn’t look too frightful, although I still pouted as I worried about the progression in the coming days.  I hoped that this was as bad as it would get.  So I started to faithfully ice my eye the rest of that long evening. at-firstice-eyeFinally, it was bedtime and when I woke the next morning, I had a full-fledged shiner.  Just what I hoped to avoid! What a difference 8 hours makes and not in a good way.

Still pouting :(

Still pouting 🙁  Much worse next day.

So, I laid around and iced it all day long.  I got some kitty pity from my feline (she is not the guilty one from the night before, although she usually is the naughty one, but not this time).  sadie-ice-packThe next day was not much better and my daughter’s opening night was now only 2 days away.  Finally, I remembered my Boiron Arnicare Gel!  As soon as I did, I ran upstairs and immediately starting treating my eye with the wonder gel several times a day.  My mother asked me if I was applying an arnica gel to the area and I told her that I had just remembered to do that.  Boy, do I wish I would have thought of it a few days before.  Once I started incorporating the Arnicare Gel into my recovery plan, my black eye truly started to fade!

The healing was kicking into high gear with the help of the Arnicare Gel.  You can see the improvement below.  Arnicare Gel is made with Arnica montana, a type of mountain daisy that grows in the mountains of Central Europe.  WebMD says that arnica can be applied to the skin for pain and swelling associated with bruises, muscle aches, and sprains.  My mother swears by Boiron Arnicare Gel and I have tried this gel myself for sore muscles in the past and it worked well.  I was so happy to remember that I had some on hand because once I started applying a little of the non-greasy homeopathic gel to my eye, it made a difference.

Still there, but starting to fade, so no more pouting!

Still there, but starting to fade, so no more pouting!

But that pesky black eye still wasn’t completely gone and my girl’s show was the next evening.  So, my wonderful gal pal, and managedmoms.com beauty expert, Bianca came to my rescue with a quick makeup lesson on what she recommends for good coverage.  Boots No 7 Beautifully Matte from Walgreens.boots-covereye-after-coverageNot bad.  And this is hours later so the makeup had faded some, but was still doing a good job, especially when it was time to take post-show pictures, I am happy to report!  Here I am with my babies.  Since my son has gone off to college, anytime I can get a picture with my cuties, I jump at the chance, even with a black eye! fave-pic-with-kids-after-13-show

My sporty black eye wasn’t gone yet.  But within another week of faithfully using Boiron Arnicare Gel, getting my sleep, taking vitamins and eating well, it was just about gone.  And this happened by the time our family took a quick last minute weekend trip before school started.  We snuck away to a great resort in Tucson.  (My blog post with my review on that property coming soon.)  A black eye can take close to three weeks to completely disappear, so I was happy with my progress, let me tell you!

tucson-with-my-girlI definitely recommend getting a tube to keep on hand.  Because you never know when you are going to need it.  I figured that I would use mine for sore muscles.  A black eye at 49 years old?! Now that, I didn’t plan for!  So, I am sure glad that I had some in my medicine cabinet because believe me, I wasn’t going out in public more than I had to during that frustrating time!  Boiron Arnicare Gel to my rescue!  It can be ordered online and it is sold at Whole Foods and Target locations.  A complete store finder for your area can be found here that shows where Boiron Arnicare Gel is sold locally.

 

Note: I am not a doctor or a pharmacist, so you may want to first check with your doctor before using an arnica gel.  These “Uses” have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  For me, it worked great. 

 

I was lucky to first learn about Boiron Arnicare Gel when they became an advertising partner with managedmoms.com.  I swear by it ever since, especially since my mother also had used arnica gel for healing.  My opinion about how much I love Boiron Arnicare Gel is 100% my very own. 

Quick, Easy & Inexpensive Halloween Make It Yourself Mask Idea

Sometimes it’s what’s behind the mask that gets attention.  I love sharing cool ideas that I see other moms brainstorm.  I saw just that this morning in my Sunday school class.  One of my students was very excited to show me her Tweety Bird mask that her mother crafted for her. I love the front of the mask.  Very cute!  Now check out the smart idea that is behind the mask. mask-onThat really got my attention.  How clever is this?! I would have never thought of this great idea.  She used an old pair of sunglasses to secure the mask to her daughter’s face.  This is much better than flimsy string that can break or an elastic band that can snap back and sting.sunglass-backThe old sunglasses, with the lens removed, fit the mask perfectly and it stays on snug.  I tried it on and it is lightweight and comfortable.  Plus the mask, constructed with a paper plate, is inexpensive and easy to make. I asked Lisa, my mom friend, if I could share this idea on my blog.  I think it is so clever.  So if you need a last minute costume idea, make a mask of your choice and secure it on the face with an old pair of sunglasses. So smart!

Happy Halloween out there.  Be safe!

My 3TV Segment: Reading Glasses Styles & More, Empty Nest & Online Meal Planning

Love that my morning show invites me to share what is trending on my blog and this segment from last month covers three great topics.  me-3tvTopics that are relevant along with some money saving and helpful tips, too. 

The ABCs of reading glasses.  Where to get stylish ones for less, a quick way to determine the power needed, good looking readers sunglasses from readers.com and more.  We also look at how some celebrities wear their stylish readers.  Plus a couple of good tips for moms adjusting to kids leaving the nest.  And a terrific healthy online meal planning tool called MealGarden.  The recipes are the real deal with clean whole foods and easy recipes.  Check it all out here in my short but thorough morning show segment.  I love sharing tips that I learn from other women, and some that I discover on my own, to make our manic lives are a little bit more managed and a lot more fun!

First Homecoming Memories

My daughter attended her first Homecoming and I used the awesome Animoto online video site to put the pictures into a fun 1 minute video. Creating this video reminds me just how fast she and her pals are growing up…just like my now college aged son did! I am a proud mom who is holding on to these last 4 years with my girl!  proud-mom-homecomingHere is the short and sweet video…

College Parent Weekend Happy Lessons Learned

Thank you to my readers who have told me that you are enjoying my posts about my journey of becoming a half empty nest mom, as I call it.  The journey does indeed continue with today’s post about how awesome and a little tricky my son’s college parent weekend was for our family.  asu-parentsIt was mostly awesome, I am happy to report.  The tricky part came with the scheduling and the communicating between my boy and me, but I learned some good lessons from the experience and came home with a joyful and full heart.

We are in the season where colleges everywhere are hosting busy family weekends when happy parents reunite with their, hopefully, happy college kids.  And if the child is not so happy, then attending the college family weekend can be very beneficial as you check in on how your kid is adjusting.

My kid is doing so well that I really don’t hear from him that much.  Since he moved out on August 12th, which means six (sometimes very slow weeks for this adjusting Mama) have passed.  That has taking some getting used to on my part.  Although he stayed in town, he hasn’t come home to do laundry and for only one home cooked meal.  Just goes to show that one truly can’t predict the future, especially when it comes to our offspring!

So multiple emails were sent out to me from the university with invitations to all kinds of cool events.  I tried not to “hound” my college freshman.  I avoid “nagging” and “hassling” him about all kinds of topics now that he is supposed to be on his own and I am supposed to be letting go.

So I only “nudged” him a few times about which events he wanted us to RSVP to that we would attend. He told me several times that we would look at it later and that he would get back to me.

Here is where this gets tricky for this rookie college mom.  I was torn between continued hounding or letting it go and letting him take the lead.  I really was torn because I was SO excited to see him on this family weekend.

I decided to let it go.  Until the week of anyway.  And for those of you that know me, that takes me out of my comfort zone.  I like to get things scheduled, confirmed and listed on the calendar.

The calendar I used when my kids were younger.

The calendar I used when my kids were younger.

So finally the week arrived.  I contacted him again asking about a finalized plan.  Before I could blink, he answered.  But not by texting me.  He instead registered our family!  Wow!  I was surprised when I received the confirmation email.  Although I was a bit worried that we would be unable to attend every event as he had checked off the main RSVP box.

So again I had to consciously take a step back and let it be.  I so wanted to call him and sort through every detail one event by one.  My husband told me that would be tedious and not welcomed by our boy who is now doing a lot of things (like RSVPing our family) on his own.  As it should be.

So the weekend arrived and my college boy told me not to worry myself that we would not be attending the Friday morning festivities due to scheduling conflicts.  I was disappointed (only because any time at all I get with my son is SO cherished) but I said OK.

I disliked the “we missed you” email that I received from the college upon our absence.  Both my son and my hubs told me to let that one go and not to worry about it.

So I resisted my urge to write back with a giant apology.  I did send my short and sweet post-event regrets (couldn’t help it…proud to say that I was raised that way)!

Late that night, we received a text from our son to come an hour later to the Saturday morning events.  I felt annoyed but again let it go as I am adjusting to this parenting a young adult stage where micro-managing is no longer welcomed and resisted.  As it should be at this stage.

So that morning, I looked at the schedule again and noticed that coming later meant missing the meat of the event with only photo opps left with the college mascot.  Neither my son or husband had any interest in that!

So I made the mistake of texting (I should have called to clarify) my son to tell him (trying to hide my disappointment) that we weren’t coming at all that day since we missed the good stuff.  That we would meet him later for dinner and for the big football game.

He texted back asking me why.

That should have flagged me that he had some interest in discussing this.

Again I should have called, but I simply texted back the reason and that I knew he didn’t want to pose with Sparky the mascot.  I got a short “OK” reply.

Ugh….if only I would have called him to discuss!  In fact, later at dinner, my boy asked us again why we didn’t come later in the day.  It was then he let us know that we missed some super cool parts of family weekend.  What?!  The agenda I received showed that pictures with Sparky concluded the day! I was SO disappointed upon the realization that we missed some events.  Events that were interesting to my son. Events that would have given us MORE time with this guy that we miss so much.

So this balancing act of leaving them alone versus communicating in this text/social media driven new world got me!  Had I listened to my gut and instead balanced my instinct to call and really plan this family weekend thing, the confusion would have been avoided. And we would have spent more time with him at some of the cool offerings with Sparky pictures remaining optional.

Of course hindsight is 20/20.

But the happy ending is that we had a PERFECT night with our son and his girlfriend!  First a delish pregame dinner.  Here I am with a yummy Sangria flight with my son’s cutie pie girlfriend.  So fun! cpkThen we cheered at the very exciting game that saw a tie multiple times and ended up with us victorious, plus with a 4-0 beginning season record that the university hasn’t seen in quite some time.  2016-asu-gameWe truly had a perfect night!  In our ASU swag, stadium fireworks and all.  So much fun! asu-fireworks

And part of the reason that the evening stayed perfect is because I resisted the urge to further discuss why we missed the boat on our family college weekend planning and I didn’t let him know how disappointed I felt.  Because it really didn’t matter.  That was in the past.

He continuing to be away from our nest continues on in the future.  The present was now and we were having a wonderful time together. So no “I told you so” came out of my mouth, no disappointed expression appeared on my face.  I took my husband’s advice and just enjoyed the now.

The moments together that made last night the perfect night at our own personal version of family college weekend.  The five of us.  Our night.  Our unique college welcoming experience.

Because part of this new journey is letting my young adult plan his college events, make his decisions, choose his timeline.

But I did learn that next year I will call him to discuss the events so that we are on the same page and I don’t end up disappointed because we miss stuff.  He doesn’t end up scratching his head wondering why we decided not to show.

Communication is key, but so is letting go and letting him lead us in this new college student/parent world.  Texting is so awesome because most kids will actually text back.  But a call is also good and can be scheduled to be sure that all understand the plan.

Bottom line, go with your gut Mamas.  But do think it through as you continue through this new transition of parenting your young adult.

Also, if you can swing attending your college student’s family weekend (I realize that the outrageous tuition costs may prohibit yet another trip for long distance parents) I do recommend attending.  It was incredible to see our son.  To see him in person.  To hug him and to get a good feel that he is doing fine. To hear that he is meeting with his honors professor to further research a project (good move), enjoying the unlimited meal plan (oh good, worth the money), truly fitting in with roommate (so awesome) and considering a Europe study abroad summer program (this was news to us).

All good.  So good.  Our boy is adjusting, maturing and thriving.  And even sporting somewhat of a beard, which is also a new development.

This Mama loved feeling his scruffy face as he gave me a tight and loving hug upon our departure.
me-and-jack-asu-fam-weekend-2016Lessons learned as I am also adjusting and maturing in my new role as a college mom.  A happy college mom with a full heart.

 

 

 

 

Massage Deal, Food & Other Items Seen in my 3TV Segment

If you caught my lifestyle segment that aired on the KTVK “Your Life A to Z” show today and you want to see more of what I discussed, it is all here.  The fantastic massage deal that is being offered, how to determine which power of reading glasses you need in just 3 seconds, the healthy online recipe tool for family meal planning that I love and more.  It is here, so take a look…

Segment Topic #1 – Readers:  Styles, Strength & Shopping

When I first bought a pair of readers, I mistakenly didn’t do the research first.  Our show host, Suzanne suggested that I research a bit about reading glasses for my segment and I am glad that I did.  I purchased a pair that was too strong and my eyes started playing focus tricks on me and I would get headaches.  So this research is important.  The good news is that it is quite simple, too.

Check out a great website called Readers.com because this site has a simple one sheet guide that helps you discover what strength is needed.  With the strength range going from +1.00 to +3.25 with lots of numbers in between, it is very useful to know which exact strength is needed before readers are purchased.  I showed the chart in my segment.

Go to my link below to see this chart on the readers.com website. Then you can take the quick quiz to find your reading glasses strength.

Go here to get this chart that you can print out.  Then you can take the quick quiz to find your reading glasses power.

You can read more about what I learned about reading glasses here in my blog article that also shares where to buy them in bulk for less.

Segment Topic #2 – Empty Nest Syndrome Adjusting

Dorm room move-in day ant this picture says it all. Happy kid and happy mom, but the sadness shows a little on my face, doesn't it?!

Dorm room move-in day and this picture says it all. Happy kid and happy mom, but the sadness shows a little on my face, doesn’t it?!

Since my first born went away to college, I found my heart took over the keyboard and several honest posts published in my blog became very popular…and I am told helpful with a lot of my readers.  The first one I blogged was a 1 minute video that shows the dorm move-in day.

Then I wrote a piece about how it felt 7 days after he went away to college.

And I chimed in again at the one month mark, which is when it truly sank in and I had a bit of a half empty nest syndrome (still have one left at home hence the word, half) breakdown.  Well it wasn’t really a breakdown, but it was a good hard cry.  And I needed to have that.  That article called Half Empty Nest Syndrome Harder & Happier Than I Expected is here.

The best thing about writing these articles is the love and support I received both in the comments section, with private emails and some social media comments, too.  Thank you to all of my readers who gave me support, who shared their own empty nest experiences and who have cheered me on…and my son, too.

I can say that the gal pal support is HUGE.  The family support is so helpful (I am blessed with an incredible mom and mom-in-law).  My husband has also been good to go through this with and we are working on reconnecting with date nights.  When one leaves the busy nest, many couples do have to work to reconnect.

I also found that exercising has been a big help, too.  Please share your thoughts with this empty nest experience.  We love to hear from other mothers going through the similar stages that parenthood serves up!

Segment Topic #3 – Stress Relief Deal on my Blog – 35% off of a very good massage!!

And speaking of needing help dealing with life changes, one of my favorite and very helpful stress relief practices is to get a massage.  Movement Restoration, located in Scottsdale, is offering a 35% discount for a 60 minute massage to my readers!  So be sure to take advantage of that before it expires at the end of October. A lot of pro athletes get their massage treatments there.  I used my blog’s discount code and had a great experience…twice now!  And yes, that has helped me with my transition as I adjust to one of my kiddos leaving the nest!

The awesome discounted price that we receive through my blog is only $49.99 for 60 minutes!

The regular price for the massages that are being discounted for my readers is normally $85 each, so this is a great savings!  The awesome peeps at Movement Restoration are offering a special introductory rate to my blog readers of only $49.99!  Just call Movement Restoration at 480-612-5090 or visit their website link hereto book using the discount code, managedmoms  to receive the introductory rate of only $49.99 for one of several fantastic services.  And this offer is good through the end of October, for those of us who may want to pamper ourselves with a healthy massage over the upcoming Fall Break, too.

Segment Topic #4 – Online Meal Planning Tool- Mealgarden.com

Healthy treat recipes are also offered on Meal Garden like these dark chocolate covered strawberries that are made with coconut oil. They were yummy!

Healthy treat recipes are also offered on Meal Garden like these dark chocolate covered strawberries that are made with coconut oil. They were yummy!

I do still have one kid left at home, but trust me I am still feeling the half empty nest syndrome!  But with one child still at home, I am not off the hook having to plan larger meals yet.  So I recently found a very cool online meal planning tool called Meal Garden and it works great.  Meal Garden gives readers a free 30 day trial, which is what I am doing now.  I have found this site to be super easy to use with healthy meal ideas that are easy to prepare.  Plus this site organizes my own personal meal calendar and then helps me to create a grocery list that checks off items that I already have on hand.  So far, I love this site.  I have used it for a crockpot chicken dinner, a yummy oatmeal breakfast recipe and snacks, too.  I will probably purchase the membership after my 30 days expire.  At that time it will cost me $5.95 a month and I think that is worth it since I get a ton of nutritious recipes to choose from, an organized calendar and grocery shopping lists.  I recommend Mealgarden.com!

 

Wonderful Surprise A Day After My Emotional Empty Nest Post

Well…as they say in the south…I’ll be!  The day after I wrote my emotional Half Empty Nest Article, I was pleasantly surprised with a SURPRISE visit from my college boy!

Joyful!

Joyful!

Woo hoo…what good timing as the mini mourning and adjustment phase was starting to take hold of this perplexed mama and just in time, I got my Jackie boy fix!

It did not go down as you would expect and the actual surprise element of the visit is sweet and I mean sweet about my husband.

He told me that he had some news that would cheer me up since I was a bit down this past weekend. Partly due to this half empty nest adjustment period and I’m quite certain that my wacky hormonal changes are also to blame.  At 49, I have not yet tested perimenopausal, but I’m quite certain that my hormones are revving up and anxiously awaiting that dreaded starting line to race me to that different kind of change in life.

Combine that with the empty nest changes and boom…I am really starting to get why this stage is difficult on the moms!

But back to the guys now, specifically my hubs.  I expected the news to be work related as he has been working hard and we are anxiously awaiting our year-end financial results, this year more than ever before, now that college tuition has become a BIG part of our vocabulary.  That word and giant expense will stick around for the next 8 years since we have two kiddos!

I truly did NOT expect a visit from our son until October or even Thanksgiving.  We get to see him in two weeks for family weekend at the university so I was counting down to that.

Our son hasn’t seemed to have that urge of missing home yet. I don’t blame him as life is so exciting now, he has made a bunch of new pals from all over the country and he is adjusting very well and doing great in his classes, including the honors curriculum.  Bravo son!

So when my husband swore me to secrecy and told me that our boy and his cutie pie girlfriend are coming for dinner, I was truly SO surprised.  Tears welled up in my eyes and I remembered that they were already puffy from the weekend’s big emotional cry that I had finally let myself fully release.  After all, we are now nearing the one month mark since our son left for college.  It is now very real.

He is in our same city but I really want him to have the experience of going away to college so I have left him alone.  Believe it or not.  It is true.

My husband always tells me to let them come to us.  He is right.

Minutes after hearing about this big surprise, I was scrambling to find my phone so I could get ready for our unexpected fun night (I had planned on a very unexciting day of cleaning out a closet)…and then…my girl calls and wants to hang out, too!

Two in one!  Really!  From a quiet and almost lonely weekend as hubs and I adjust to this new world…to all of a sudden crazy chaos again.  I wanted to have my time with our teen daughter (who 99% of the time finds us suddenly uninteresting) to getting back to the house in time for quality time with our son and his girlfriend.

When it rains it pours…and this is one storm I happily looked forward to!

So again for you moms going through this….it does help when you get that visit.  I got my son fix!  And it is helpful to let them come to you as my husband wisely and gently said to me more than once during these last few weeks.

What a brand new world we have entered with our young adult.

Our visit went well.  I played the surprised mom and may have gotten away with it because my gentle tears were real.

Our son is happy and well.  Although he is fighting a cold (cue worried mama frown).

Instantly my mama bear tendencies came out and I wanted to put him to bed, serve him soup and see that he takes it easy.  I didn’t go that far but I did get him to take some extra vitamins while he was here. And I was touched when I observed my husband doing the same thing when he offered to make our boy some hot tea.  At first our young man declined, but then with a little nudge from his well meaning parents, he took and drank the tea.  I was very happy to see that.

When it was time for them to leave, they commented that they were stopping at Walgreens.  “What do you need?” I asked, ready to comb my home to find stuff they could take.  “No we are good,” my boy tells me.  They let us know that they had planned to go to the drug store anyway.

Oh that’s right.  These two are pretty independent now and are enjoying that independence.  Oh I do remember what an exciting time that is when you learn to take care of yourself.

After grabbing his mail and also his credit card statement (everything is different now), we received big loving hugs.  We watched them ride off back to collegeland and a peaceful joy came over me.  Such a nice warm and fuzzy feeling.  My heart felt full.

I just wish that he didn’t have that pesky cold.

Once a mama, always a mama.  No matter how old they get.

What a wonderful Labor Day….my wonderful surprise.  And yes I feel much better today.  So empty nest syndrome stuff, pesky hormonal changes and all of the above, take that!  My boy came home to surprise me and I am feeling fine…just counting down the days until family weekend arrives.  But until then I will leave him be.  I am just crossing my fingers that he will keep his promise and go to the doctor if he feels worse.

It is all about adjusting.  Happy, sad, anxious and peaceful adjusting.  I wish this for all of my Mama pals going through this stage.

I wish you peaceful adjusting…and a surprise visit 🙂

Half Empty Nest Syndrome Harder & Happier Than I Expected

How come the term half or partial empty nest syndrome doesn’t exist?  Because my heart is telling me that it is a thing.  A real thing.  My mind is constantly shushing my heart.  Be still my restless heart, please!  It is harder than I expected.  It also has happy moments that have surprised me, too.  It is both. But right now at this new and raw stage, it is a bit harder than happy.  Let me explain and other moms out there in this stage, let me know if you agree with what my heart and my head is about to share. broken heart teddy bearI am not a sad person.  I am an upbeat, optimistic, glass is always half full kind of girl.  So I don’t like this new feeling of a partial emptiness.  Of crazy change that took 18 very full years and then appeared in an instant when college move in day arrived.  That was almost one month ago now.  And for the first time I can’t say that time flies.  Because it hasn’t flown this time.  This time is different. 

My mind reminds my heart that we still have one at home, although now that she is in high school, she is rarely home so that isn’t helping as much as I thought it would.

My mind is also conversing with my heart that a pity party is not acceptable because my lucky heart has been blessed with an overflowing trunk full of happy and fulfilling memories.  These memories should be enough to carry me forward with smiles and a calm heart.

But my heart doesn’t want to be still just yet.  It is telling my head that right now the heart wins out and that my head needs to figure out how to process this half empty nest/heart time in my life’s journey.

True that I still have one left in my nest, but she is teetering on the edge preparing to fly out like her big brother just did right before her anxious eyes.  I can see her leaning out in the wind and my efforts to pull her back in are failing me.  I am not supposed to be yanking her back in and she also can’t go yet at this stage of her life’s journey.  It is my job to begin to let her lean out a bit with me holding her gently with support and guidance.  But she, too is tugging on my heartstrings as she hovers over the exciting edge that is waiting for her to arrive in just 4 years from now.Class of 2020 lexThankfully, so far, her attention is directed to the right areas. She is super committed to her academics as she knows that obtaining scholarships is her ticket out of the nest…and to fly much further away than her big brother did, as she is dying to attend college out of state.  This has been her dream since the 4th grade.  I know this because I recently found a first day of school 4th grade welcome sheet that the teacher had the new students complete. The dreams she wrote on that paper still match up to her goals today…five years later!  Yep, that is my independent girl!

So I didn’t mean to lie or to sugarcoat this new parenting stage in my previous posts.  Because on most days, I am strangely OK.  I don’t really miss my son like I thought I would because he is so happy and that makes me SO happy.  So I miss him but I think I miss the job of being a busy mother to a full nest. Because he is doing so well, I don’t need him to be here.  I need him to stay there, in his new college dorm, where he is grabbing college life by the horns.

That makes me SO happy!  Truly!

But oh there is still this emptiness that at times takes over.

I had just about had it with the days that were so crazy busy and so full that I felt like I couldn’t keep up. Putting an excessive amount of miles on my car and steps on my Fitbit day after exhausting day.  Life was so crazy then with hockey tournaments, rehearsals, recitals, teenagers here blasting the music too loud in the backyard. Running food out back that the hungry friends always appreciated.Homecoming food ready for teensThen running out of food and thinking that next time I will buy more grub for the “hangouts”, as the teens call this time together.

What fun that was! And it was tiring.  Asking their friends to resist doing back flips in the pool, waiting up on my son’s curfew.  Posting the weekly calendars on Sundays while wondering how we would get it all done.  It was a selfless time for me to be sure.

So now I get to be selfish.  I am rested.  I am so lucky that my memory trunk overflows with all of these incredible experiences.

So hush heart!  Be still!  This stage of sadness and letting go will pass…I expect and hope!

And for once I can’t say time is flying during this stage as it so often does with the other parenting stages. This parenting experience is so different.  Definitely not easy.  Easy on some days but not every day. This parenting stage goes much slower than the others that came before this one.  Time is moving much slower now.  So odd.  So strange.  How does the concept of time change so drastically in this new parenting stage?! Gift of TimeFor those fellow Moms of mine that are in this same transitional and emotional boat, it is an odd time, isn’t it? I guess that is why it is called a syndrome with those emotional words, “empty nest” in front of the syndrome word.  My nest is only half empty I know, but don’t be fooled because that one whole half, that 50% of the nest, which is a big number, does indeed feel…well…empty.

And there is fullness, too.  My heart is full with joy when I see my son’s smiling face in pictures that I receive in the occasional text.  Look how happy he looks!  My heart swelled up two sizes when my phone lit up with this photo!Jack away at college 2016I don’t know his new pal in the picture, which is why I cut him out of this shot.  I don’t have his permission to share his image because I don’t know him.  That is different as well.  To not know my son’s new chums.  But believe me, my heart is so full with the knowledge that he is thriving and doing well.

However it still feels empty at times.

And I have truly been pretty OK.  A few tears here and there.

Until this weekend, almost one month down.  My friend told me that this would happen and that this day would come.  The day that I finally lost it!

I sat down on the kitchen floor and bawled my eyes out.  My cats look at me bewildered.  My husband came downstairs and found me there and he was also surprised.  I have seen him start to unravel just a twinge during this almost one month mark, too.  So he was confused, but he also understood.

It is funny the different comments I heard from friends as we neared the big move out day.  Most pals commented that my son would be around a lot since he chose to attend our local university.  Some predicted that he would be back multiple times to do laundry or to have a home cooked meal.  Others said that I should be thankful that he isn’t going far.

But one friend told me that even though my boy would be close by, he might as well have gone out of state.  He predicted that I wouldn’t see much of my kid once college life took hold of him.

Guess which friend was right?

It is like my son flew off to a far away college.  I have received a few text messages (that make my day, let me tell you).  But he has not come home to do the laundry.  He seems perfectly content with college food.  And the fact that he stayed in town hasn’t mattered.  I haven’t seen him. I don’t run into him.  I don’t know his new friends.  I couldn’t tell you his professors’ names or what his daily schedule is like.

No more daily chats or check ins to see how he is doing.

Now I wait.  I wait for word from him.  I text him sometimes but I am truly leaving him alone for the most part.  That is my job now.  To let go.  And like all of the parenting stages that I have walked through before this one, I am figuring it out as I go along.

I am going with my gut while I balance what my head and heart tell me to do.  Call him.  Don’t call.  Text him again.  No, no…the text I sent two days ago was enough. Send him a care package.  Wait, remember he told you that he didn’t want the basket full of food. But that was on move-in day.  Does he want one now?

Ugh, be still my beating heart.  Quiet down head.  Just take this new stage day by day.  Let him be. Let him go while knowing that it is also OK to reach out to him at times, which I do.  But I mostly wait to hear from busy him.

I worked hard during the first 18 years of my job.  That had challenging moments and many many wonderful magical moments.  No question.

But my job now just might be the hardest on my heart.  This business of letting go.

And yes, I still have one left at home.  But the dynamic here has changed so drastically that my head is trying to wrap around what our new life is and my heart is trying hard to be still and accepting.

So parents who are riding in this same transitional new boat, don’t let anyone tell you that this is easy. Do not beat yourself up because at times the joy you feel for your kid is weighed down by your own sadness. Because it is not easy.  That just isn’t true. It is still tough on our parental hearts.

These kids are embracing new beginnings.  My most recently received photo of him with his darling girlfriend before the big college football game aptly shows this.  And boy oh boy was I excited to receive this a few days ago!  This makes me happy!asu cuties 2016

And while they embrace these thrilling new beginnings, I am also forced to embrace the beginnings of letting go.

It is not for the faint of heart.  So if you find yourself curled up in bawling ball, I feel you.  I am there with you.  Hang in there.  Hang on.  I am told that this will get easier.  And on most days, I really am doing fine.

But on those other days when I ask my heart to be still, I know that my heart is not alone and that there are many other moms and dads out there going through this same exciting and emotional transition.  I just can’t end this post without using my overused word….bittersweet.

Exciting and painful.  Bittersweet.  Who said that letting go and change are easy and natural?

It is simply, not so.

Hang in there fellow empty nest parents.  It hurts so much because you tended to that nest so well.  You put your heart and soul into that nest.  So give your heart some time before it can be still again.  To heal.

It is normal to have a joyful heart and a heart that aches at the same time.  This new and strange ache is because that mama heart of yours loves that kid of yours so deeply.

P.S.  My daughter just called from her sleepover at her pal’s house and she wants to go do something today.  With her ol’ mom.  An unexpected surprise.  So be still my beating heart and walk through this stage as gracefully as you can.