This past week has felt 21-days long! Last Sunday, our son moved out of the house embarking on a road trip across country. He left the nest not for college or his internship, but for his independence. The pandemic had delayed his original plans, but they are delayed no more. So, my hubby and I officially hold the title of empty nesters. Excitement swirls in this new chapter for all of us, but while he blazed through state lines heading east, I worried. My hubby worried. We busied ourselves doing things around the house, and of course, going to work, trying to focus on the job. Some of you may recall that I briefly wrote about this in my post from April 17th. Now it’s as real as ever.
While we are proud of him, we miss his presence – the conversations, the laughter, the hugs. We know Copper, our dog, misses his “brother” too, that his canine perception senses the change. The quiet in the house is also LOUD. So, this past week has been an adjustment.
But now that he has reached his finish line and holds the keys to his new apartment in his hands, WE ARE HAPPY! We wish that his chosen path could have been on the west side of the USA. But, he now lives closer to his sister who also lives on that side of the country, which makes us HAPPY! We are eager to make new memories in his home just as we’ve done with our daughter and son-in-law.
I have shed many tears during this exciting, bittersweet week. They fell out of joy for our son and the new adventures awaiting on the horizon. They gushed out of worry as he accelerated on those highways; I thought of other reckless drivers out there. And I have never felt such an affinity for my cell phone before as I anticipated his text messages to ping each evening, letting us know he is safe. It was in those momentswhen tears flowed out of relief.And if you’re wondering, my hubby shed a few, too.
So, this post is all about FINDING YOUR HAPPY!
Wherever it may be, it’s out there, loud and clear!!!!
And don’t let it go!
“Reasons for feeling Happy float around us every day, but it’s up to us to capture them and relish in the joy.”
Lauren Scott 🥰❤️
(When I think of happiness, flowers also come to mind. The California Poppies are gorgeous and abundant around here, but I don’t have a good photo to share. So, of course, I visited Google, where I also found the Happy Face. The Daisies are from our garden.) 😍
Wrapping up my workday with fifteen minutes to go before stepping outside into Friday freedom, I hear my phone ping. A short text from my daughter: Hey, Mom, would you want to chat later?
It’s been a couple of weeks since we talked, and since she lives on the other side of the country, of course, I wanted to chat! My fingers tapped back: Sure! I’ll call in a half hour when I’m home.
For hours to fly by when we talk on the phone isn’t unusual at all. But this call turned out to beat that record by a landslide. When my husband walked through the door, home from work, I said, “Hi Honey, I’ve been talking to Steph for two hours.”
“Are you kidding me?” He asked, grinning, not understanding what in the world could keep a conversation going for so long.
And it kept going. We chatted about work – the fun and the annoying elements, and about friends. I asked her about the 3-year-old tabby cat, Oliver, she and her husband recently adopted. Somehow the weather swept into our conversation – another drought and fire season on the horizon for us, and lastly, about her brother who is moving out in a week, embarking on a new chapter of life. He’s been home with us for a couple of years post college graduation, working full-time remotely. But the time has come. The time is right.
Steph and I gabbed about Michael’s new chapter nudging “Dad and I” into our new Empty Nesters stage. Exciting times for all of us, but bittersweet where many different emotions whirl around in our heads and hearts. The thing is he’s moving across country, too, which means both of our children will be on the same coast as each other, but miles and miles and miles away from us. This is when our hearts become heavy. We can’t see Steph and Ryan on a whim, and the same will be for Michael when he’s moved.
I filled Steph in about Michael wanting to help us rearrange furniture in the bedrooms so that Mom and Dad can reap the benefits of having the house to themselves. Shortly after he signed his apartment lease, with each day came a new flood of tears for me. But as he moves furniture and rewires electronics, he has tamped down those tears by keeping my brain and emotions occupied. Though a tsunami will gush on the day he drives away. No doubt.
Steph understood. When she and Ryan moved, Michael lived with us. Tears still trickled down our cheeks, but it was different with having one of our kids still at home. So, when Michael leaves, it’ll just be Matt, me, and Copper, our crazy canine, who will watch the distance widen between us and his car. We know Copper will sense the emptiness in the house, missing the cuddles, too, from his brother.
After Matt watered the grass, he poured us some Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and I carried the conversation out to the patio. He joined in, telling Steph all about his recent motorcycle trip, and how he checked off that box on his bucket list. He shared that his dad, two weeks shy of turning 98, is not doing well. “Give him a call,” he tells her. “And send him a birthday card with photos of Ollie. He’d love that.”
Before we knew it, tears from all of us struggled for freedom. The conversation stayed light-hearted, full of laughter, but also brimmed with love and poignancy. When we all finally said talk to ya later, four hours had passed!
Here’s my take-away: we love our children so much, yes, and sometimes to the point that it hurts. Parenting doesn’t get easier as age transforms into a larger number – with each new phase develops new sets of worries. But as our daughter and son pave their own paths, we couldn’t be prouder. They’re adulting and doing it well. We just wish their paths were on the west coast. Such is life. And as the gray hairs flourish and the wrinkles form, knowing they love us to the same extent is something so much bigger to be thankful for – and knowledge to sustain us until we or they hop on a plane, heading across country.
During the contraction, I held my Mt. Everest stomach and scrunched up my face as the pain made its way to the end. Matt felt helpless as he watched my face contort, wanting to do anything to alleviate my discomfort. But just having him near was support enough and he knew it. It’s Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, so what better timing to have a baby? Aside from contractions, the soft pastel blues in my hospital room relaxed me. The young nurse on my shift wore her long auburn hair in a soft ponytail and she had the warmest smile. Her voice was as rich and soothing as chocolate. She didn’t make me feel like another cow in line, ready to be forced out the door when all was done.
It’s amazing how calm I was on this day, considering how jumpy my nerves were when we first found out the news nine months earlier. I had a hunch I might be pregnant, so when I saw the ballet-slipper shade of pink, it may as well have been a bright bouquet of fuchsias. Mixed feelings swirled around in my mind. I was happy and scared to death at the same time. For some reason, I’ve always felt I had a low tolerance to pain. So, when the pink shined at me like a beacon for my future, I thought to myself, can I really do this?
Matt and I had talked about starting a family, so the timing was perfect. And despite my fear of pain, I chose to have natural childbirth. I wanted to feel each contraction and any agony that paralleled the miracle of giving birth. I needed to remember what it took to bring a little human being into our family of two, making it three. We found a method to help manage the contractions called Lamaze, so we signed up for a nearby course right away. There were several couples in the class, and it was special knowing we would all soon experience the same miracle of bringing new life into this world. Matt sat behind me, giving hugs every now and then as reassurance of his presence. This class was good for us to bond as parents-to-be.
Here comes another contraction as beads of sweat form on my forehead. I slowly inhaled, then exhaled, and repeated for as long as the drum beat of the pain continued. I didn’t morph into “Linda Blair,” although Matt’s story may vary. “Don’t do that!” I yelled, as he laid a cold compress on my forehead. His hand jerked back, and at that moment, we both learned I didn’t want to be touched when the pain ran full steam ahead. I closed my eyes and breathed in and out like I learned in Lamaze, but I focused on breathing slowly. The last thing I needed to do was hyperventilate. He waited until the agitated Lauren vanished and the kind Lauren returned. My blue hospital gown became drenched, and I prayed our baby wouldn’t delay its arrival. But whatever the time-frame, I had no choice except to stay on this wild ride and hold on with a firm grip.
It appeared that time passed like pouring molasses into a mixing bowl. Six and a half hours later, we welcomed our baby girl, and I couldn’t believe I made it through without any medication! One detail Matt and I agreed upon was wanting the element of surprise, so in the beginning, we didn’t know what the gender was going to be. All we were concerned about was having a healthy baby and we couldn’t wait to count those ten little fingers and ten tiny toes. But when we heard her vocals strong enough to make any singer jealous, it was like we had transported into the land of joy. Our family of two grew to three twenty-nine years ago.
Our daughter’s birth came at a surreal time in our lives. My mother-in-law, Diane, was ill and passed away earlier that year, soon after we told her she was going to become a grandma for the first time. She was elated with this knowledge and it comforted her in those last days. But the fact that she would never hold her granddaughter or have the chance to spoil her like grandmas should do was heartbreaking. Even with the healing magic of time, we still feel cheated as though multiple chapters were ripped from our family novel. Because of this sadness, Matt had hoped for a baby girl. Too soon in life, he lost his mom,but he gained a daughterand she had a sweet way of softening the grieving stages.
When I first held our little girl, I was on a high that I had never experienced before, unsure if my feet were still on the ground. Steph had beautiful little rosebud lips and the softest skin. I instantly felt the bond between us. The pain I so vehemently dreaded in the beginning faded into no man’s land. As a result, when we decided to have another child, I didn’t have second thoughts. I was ready for deep breathing, for sweating, and to face that pain head on with boxing gloves because I knew the reward would be worth it.
We repeated our plans with the element of surprise, so it was euphoria again when our baby boy was born. After an even shorter labor of two and a half hours, I can’t deny being lucky. When I held our son for the first time, looking at his precious little face, my heart melted into a puddle of love. We named him Michael, a popular name but a favorite of ours, and he completed our family almost four years later.
I recall the varied emotions from becoming a parent almost thirty years ago…the joy, the fear, the uncertainty, the second-guessing of whether I’d be a good mom or not. Experiences I can’t touch again, but memories and details I can hold forever. Becoming a mother was the first career I wanted; no other vocation equaled my longing. Parenthood turned out to be a lot of things…rewarding, thankless, fulfilling, and frustrating. Although challenges are unavoidable, those become overshadowed from the joy that manifests itself like finding the pot of gold. I’m grateful for the positive pink that even in its muted shade, shined brightly, changing my life twofold in the most worthwhile ways.
Since my daughter recently celebrated her birthday, I thought it was perfect timing to share my memories of becoming a mom. As the years pass, some details fade, but others stay vivid in my heart and mind. 💗
1. That life’s course can change in a heartbeat. 2. That we need to be advocates for our loved ones when it comes to medical attention. 3. That I can find calmness and strength when it’s needed. 4. That we need to have faith in medical personnel. 5. That nothing is black and white. 6. That my faith in God has waned. 7. That asking why doesn’t bring answers. 8. That all I know is that I don’t know anything. 9. That “one day at a time” is no joke. 10. That sitting in the emergency room while the power went out was beyond spooky (even though hospitals have generators). And it happened twice. 11. That I commend medical staff wholeheartedly. 12. That even though we were there from 11:30 pm to 4 am, we survived. 13. That being a parent involves much more than changing diapers. 14. That even as children grow older parenting doesn’t end. 15. That worrying does no good but manages to surface anyway. 16. That the future still remains unknown. 17. That the last time I screamed at God wasn’t the last time. 18. That the feeling of helplessness is indescribable. 19. That since this event, time hasn’t stopped. Life goes on. We move forward.
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” ~ Albert Camus
“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.” ~ Jose N. Harris “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” ~ Maya Angelou
***Thanks to all who read this. Its purpose isn’t for sympathy, rather for therapeutic reasons. We all have stories of sorrow. But on the opposite end of sorrow, there is joy for many reasons, along with strength, optimism, and perseverance – the reason I ended with these great quotes. Sometimes, we just have to pour our hearts out, though, so thanks again for stopping by. And may you also find strength, optimism, and perseverance in any struggles you’re experiencing. ❤
Can we help in the kitchen? Can we watch you cook? I’d rather do this myself then I stop and look at the innocent faces so eager to learn selfish, no more, it’s now their turn Clothes will get dirty dust will appear chores never ending that much is clear So I say to them, I’ll play and read books I’ll teach you to be great little cooks For as you grow and think of your Mother Just know my love for you is like no other
Today, my hubby and I celebrate our 26th First Date Anniversary! 🙂 Yep, we remember these silly dates and though it sounds cliche, it still feels like yesterday. He was 27; I was 26. We lived in so. Calif. at the time and he took me to the Sycamore Inn for a very nice dinner, then dancing at Mt. Baldy Lodge & Restaurant! An awesome setting in the mountains! He chose this same place 6 months later when he proposed (after a ski lift ride to the top)…We then spent 3 New Year’s Eves here, dancing our socks off with a bunch of friends! I remember drinking Irish Cream Coffees (yum) and cooling off on the deck overlooking the snowy view, after dancing! Truly romantic and magical. ♥
Next month, we’ll celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. I don’t think either of us can believe the time we’ve spent together is now wrapped up in photographs and not so current. Our relationship hasn’t been perfect. As far as I know, no relationship is…along with the laughs, we’ve shed tears for different reasons. However, we’ve managed to, instead of stumbling over the bumps, step over them and move forward…
I know of several couples who have divorced after 20 some years of marriage and it breaks my heart. I don’t want to be a statistic and so I have a vision of us rocking together on the front porch when we’re older, watching our grandchildren play. Since our kids aren’t “there” yet, for having children, our vision is “way” into the future! This vision, though, will remain our anchor and strength to persevere anything thrown in our path that is not welcomed! God willing, we’ll have the chance to rock ‘n” roll in rocking chairs! 🙂
Living together for many, many years, married or not, takes work. It’s not a piece of cake. Well, sometimes, it is, but other times, it’s not so sweet. Fortunately, Matt and I are both talkers…we have no trouble communicating, which I think is the key. Holding things in only gives trouble fuel to smolder.
So after almost 25 years of marriage, our kids aren’t little and precious anymore. They’re both in college and luckily, responsible young adults. Whether they like it or not, they’ll always be our “precious babies!” I don’t know what we’ve done right, but we must have done something because we are so blessed. And I mean this with all sincerity and the least bit of boasting…
A dark (health) cloud still insists on looming over us (one of the bumps), but with and through our lasting love for each other and our son and daughter, we’ll get through it, no matter what!
So…Happy “First Date” Anniversary, Honey!
You were my best friend in the late 80’s when we met. You still are to this day and always will be.
Life sure tugs at our hearts, doesn’t it? I’m thinking as I type and don’t have time to edit, so please bear with anything that may not make sense.
Some changes are good, positive events that push us in a better direction. They help us grow. Some aren’t so good, in fact, they’re tragic and very painful. Fortunately, right now, the change about to take place on Saturday is a great one. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t tug, though.
I just feel like talking and I hope not to bore you. Many of you have experienced this already and many will in the near or distant future…Our daughter is moving out for the first time, as a Junior transfer student in her new university. It’s awesome; we jumped for joy when she was accepted. And now that time is no longer down the road a few months…it’s here. Very surreal in so many ways. The good thing is she’ll only be less than two hours away. She won’t be across the country or in another country (I’m consoling myself), so this is good.
With her bro at her Community College Graduation.
Our living room is full of her boxes. Her belongings because she’ll be in an apartment and not a dorm room. We have had fun shopping for new stuff; that’s always a joy, especially spending time with her…my son has even teased her about having more room in the bathroom, once she leaves and wanting to turn her bedroom into whatever! He keeps this whole thing light-hearted! Well, she’s not out completely; the apartment is furnished, so her furniture will remain with us and she is welcome home anytime. Even after she graduates, who knows if she’ll need to come back home to live. We leave that option open, always. So we won’t make any drastic changes in her room, just yet. But, someday, it will make a great office! Just sayin’! 🙂
It’s our job as parents to raise our children in the best way we know..to lay the foundation, a solid one from where they can grow. My husband and I have done that. And now it’s her job to begin a new chapter, make her own path and continue growing into a beautiful, responsible adult.
Now we have a new job; to let go. I’ve had a few nights this week where I’ve become teary right when my head hits the pillow (thus, my prior post to this one). Yes, it’ll be sad to not have her here with us, in our house. But I tend to worry; we just want her to be safe. (I know, move on, right?) That’s the tough part of letting go because events like this are out of our control. But the tears also fall for joy and excitement for her. We’re so happy for the opportunities she’ll have, the people she’ll meet, as well as, her accomplishments when she graduates.
In a nutshell, LIFE IS GOOD! (but keep the tissue handy)
I will end with a little something I wrote:
“We have prepared for this moment,
it would come we have known. It’s time now for her
to chase dreams of her own.”
I apologize for “talking your ear off”
but I thank you for taking the time to “listen” and if you have any reassuring feedback, I would love to read it! Hugs, Lauren ♥
I feel like a machine (not a mom, a wife, or a human being) one that’s shiny and not too old I could be silver; I could be gold One that stands 5’7” in height and would be useful day or night This is just what I am A bright, polished ATM