Sunday, August 28, 2011

Out of the Forest, Into the Meadow

Whelp, looks like it's time to shake the dust off and hit it again. I decided to do the proverbial Monday Start, with a gradual easing into something new. Today we are having a little end-of-summer celebration which will include food (thinking chicken on the grill, a nice big salad with garden tomatoes, some decidedly un-diety crockpot macaroni and cheese, and a homemade pineapple upside down cake... something I haven't made in more than 7 years). Oh, I  will be portion-moderate, but this is food I expect to actually enjoy. I have had a hard time enjoying food lately... healthy, junky, or in-between.

School is starting this week and I admit I am more than a little nervous... not for my kids, as they will do fine and be happy to trot off to their classes and friends. But for me. I have never really had much alone time. At all. I started working when I was 13 and continued through my teen years while also going to school, and back then I did sometimes come home and have a couple of hours alone when my Dad was working and my mom was off doing religious stuff or whatever else she was off doing. When I moved out at 18, I lived with a family of six, working in their home business in return for room and board, sleeping in their basement. And then it was college with five roommates and at 20, marrying a man with three children, and from there it was more and more kids (my own five and five fosters at various times). I was mostly a stay-at-home mom, always seemed to have a baby at home, and then when I did have a gap in babies I was working and going to school full time. Whenever I was home I had my kids here with me. Last year when my last baby went to kindergarten, it was tough but not that bad. I worked in her class one day a week and she was only in school less than 3 hours a day (even less on Fridays), and I used that bit of "free time" to run necessary errands and go to appointments and catch up on housework. I was very rarely home without her there and when I was, it was just long enough to do a few chores and then it was time to go back and pick her up.

This year will be different. Very different. First grade is full time... about seven hours a day. I still plan to work a couple hours a week in her classroom, but honestly I have a hard time fathoming having SEVEN HOURS at a stretch with no children. It feels very... scary?... to me. My oldest is 21. Kids have filled my life for decades. And now... well, as I said, it's hard to imagine having SEVEN HOURS. I think a lot of tears will be shed, I will miss her terribly, but this is a new era in my life. One without babies :(

I am very, very glad I have my puppy to hug and snuggle and talk to. I could not stand it otherwise. She will take lots of my time with the classes I have us signed up for (tracking, nosework, and obedience) as well as dock diving practice and home training and walks. But, I really need to figure out WHAT I am going to do next. Go back to school and get my doctorate, perhaps? I definitely want to incorporate things like exercise, cooking, doing a better job of cleaning, and finally organizing and decluttering the rest of my house. I will have lots of time to do so. I also can finally make all the appointments I have delayed and take care of my health issues as well as looking into support groups, classes, or counseling about the weight/eating stuff.

I feel like I have been walking through a forest... a beautiful forest... on a twisting, turning path, and am about to emerge from the trees into a vast, seemingly endless meadow. After 20+ years of having a path and seeing only trees and ferns and flowers, it is amazing and confusing to have the whole world opened up with all this space and little constriction. Which way to go? What to do? You step into the pathless meadow and have to DECIDE which way to go. It's disconcerting without a map, but I think I will get used to it and am going to be okay.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, time to get a job, something for yourself and something to pad the bank account so you are not so stressed with life? Something that brings purpose and satisfaction to your life so that you still keep working on food issues, but not all day long, only at shopping, preparing and eating times.

I find that a nest egg, savings in the bank makes life much less stressful, as the fear of not being able to pay bills or take care of one's needs is often the basis of all present life stresses. Maybe bad things happened in the past, but if the present is secure, then the past is the past. I have lived both ways, with a cushion and from paycheck to paycheck and I will choose with a cushion for sure!

Good luck with any choices you make!

Megan said...

Ahhh. Sweet freedom. Good for you
! the world is your oyster. Enjoy.

Deb Willbefree said...

Excellent analogy.

I'm going to give you advice you don't need. It's just to confirm what you already know.

Guard that meadow. Guard its open space, its wide expanse of time.

Don't be in a hurry to fill it up and close it in with jobs and plans and projects and obligations--making it just like the forest.

Take your time. Breathe in the fresh, open air. Let your soul relax and renew. Let the sun shine on your face (There is so little sunshine in a forest.)and into your spirit.

Then walk easily and calmly thru that new, fresh space.

Deb

Anonymous said...

What Anon #1 said. Get. A. Job.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's in vogue now to cry to your children and tell them that you want them to stay babies forever and that your life is now incomplete because they are growing up. Realize that you are putting a burden on your child by acting that way. Good greif, it's a few hours a day that they are physically out of the house. Everyone whines about not having enough hours in the day, now you finally have a few minutes to catch up and your acting like you'd prefer anything but that. You're asking for trouble by wearing that kind of thinking on your sleeve.
I know this is a little harsh but I have told some of my good friends this very same thing. Seems everyone today wants their kids to feel guilty about growing up. Even though I don't know you personally, I have followed your blog for over a year so I consider you a friend of sorts and a friend will tell you like it is, weather they want to hear it or not.
C'mon, get to enjoying life, girlfriend, it's time! Enjoy watching your baby grow into a beautiful young lady, don't cry about it.

Stacey
SWPA

Forty Pound Sack said...

How wonderful to have choices instead of being forced to work for the paycheck. You'll find your path. If you don't want to go to work maybe consider volunteering. Meet new people, find a sense of satisfaction & accomplishment. You go, girl!

Stacey....pretty harsh. You can get your point across without being mean, you know.

Anonymous said...

How do you have what seems to be 4-5 kids, one of which is still pretty young, others of which are in college, and not work at all? I'm honestly VERY CURIOUS, and am gong to be a little blunt and assume that your spouse(Your cuurent status isn't quite clear?) is pretty damn well off. Sorry, but it's something I've really been wondering for some time!! You share SO much, but not this. Of course, what you share or not is totally up to you, but people are gonna wonder. And make their own assumptions. Just very curious, not trying to be nasty or insulting.

Mandy @ The Fat Girl's Guide to Life said...

I'm excited for you on all the new changes. After such a long time, I'll bet it's a little nerve-wracking!

You'll do great though. You and your first-grader will adjust to the new routine quickly I'm betting. Maybe you'll take a little longer since you have to figure out your routine! Keep us updated on the changes!

Oh. My. God. You're making pineapple upside down cake? I have been craving pineapple upside down cake. I'm so going to make a pineapple upside down cake! (Or maybe I should just have some breakfast first...)

Anonymous said...

Fourty Pound Sack - I did acknowledge that it was a bit harsh. I would never say anything mean or purposfully hurt anyone, I am really speaking up for the kids - especially the extra sensitive ones. Years ago my niece confided in me that she wasn't going to go to college because her mom told her (in tears)that she didn't know if she could handle it. I will admit that it upset me & I did confront my SIL about it. I told her what a weight she was putting on her daughter and that her daughter should not have to feel guilty about growing up. After that incident my SIL didn't speak to me for quite some time but my neice came to me later and said that her mom must have realized what she was doing because she came to her and apoligized. Honsetly, I don't think sil realized that saying these things made her daughter feel bad. I think she kinda thought it was complementary and that it showed how much she loved her. But that is not how kids hear it.
I am a cheerleader for Lyn and I pull for her with every blog post I read. This is just me speaking up on something that I feel strongly about and that I have personal experience with and like I said, I think alot of moms don't even realize they're doing it. That is all.

Stacey

Deb Willbefree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lyn said...

Deb~

What a beautiful sentiment. Thank you for that! I appreciate your sharing those thoughts with me and they made me smile :)

Stacey~

I never said I cried *to* my children. That would be totally inappropriate. Being a mother is a labor of the heart, and when that last little one leaves your side to go to school it is a bittersweet moment... filled with pride and love and letting go, and yes, even a bit of sadness. I think it is pretty normal to shed a few tears walking away from your baby on the first day of school.

Anonymouses & get a job folks~

Don't you worry, I may not be rich but I am in no danger of becoming homeless, either! We will be okay, and if/when I go back to work full time or back to college, I will let you know :)

But yes, some things I keep private, and that's the way it should be.

Lyn said...

Mandy~

Thanks! I am excited about the new possibilities too!

AngryPorkchop said...

I just discovered your blog ... truly inspirational! Thanks for helping keep me motivated. I look forward to following your progress.

Anonymous said...

How exciting for you to have all this time to yourself with no obligations! I became a true empty nester a few years back when my youngest daughter moved out, so I can appreciate the sadness of the first step in letting go of your youngest child - but as others have said, enjoy all your freedom! I have to admit I'm jealous of whatever situation enables you not to have to work - I work 7 days a week to keep afloat - so having all that free time sounds like pure heaven to me!

Lori

lisa~sunshine said...

Lynn.. I'm so excited to see you are starting again this MOnday... awesome.. Everytime we start.. we get that much closer to where we want to be..

Like I said before.. my baby starts all day kindergarten Sept 6th.. my son went to kindergarten last year.. so this will be my first year with both my kids in school for a full day.. I totally get the turn around and cry.. It's almost hard to be strong for the kids.. you don't want them to see how sad it makes you.. because it makes them sad and it makes them scared as well.. but yeah.. a full day.. a full 7 hours.. gosh what to do.. I've been thinking the same things and honestly I've come up with a bit.. one thing is I live close to a mall so I can do morning walking there..
As far as your personal stuff.. i'm happy you nipped that with some posters.. some things are just private.. and that is the way it should be..

I love your blog and you continue to inspire me..
Have you thought of running a challenge here? Like how I sign you up for things HAHAHA...
Enjoy the rest of your weekend..

lisa~sunshine said...

I forgot to add.. I think for the first part of the school year.. things will be okay.. I can go shopping for Christmas and it will be fun to be able to look at stuff and stroll along.. what I don't look forward to is.. WINTER.. too cold to go out.. to cold to walk.. that is when I wonder.. what to do with myself..

LHA said...

Wow, what an interesting string of comments. I guess this post touched on a lot of issues that people feel strongly about, Lyn. I wish you great good luck in your continuing journey. It is a milestone indeed when "the baby" starts school for a full day. I am betting it won't take you long to get used to it and find many interesting things to fill your day with. I, too, have a large family of children with quite a spread in their ages and I remember the day my youngest started school. After being home with my kids for over twenty years and having some other very confining extended family obligations come to an end at the same time, I started a business of my own that has grown into quite an enterprise employing a number of people.

By the way, I really like having older, grown up kids too. It is way more fun that I ever knew it was going to be. I hope you enjoy every day of your life and find much happiness and fulfillment in this next phase.

Diandra said...

Enjoy how your kids are growing up and becoming more and more independent. No matter how much time they will spend without you (and they will), they will always be your children. Aren't you looking forward to so much "me-time" you can spend on things you actually *want* to do? (Or you could do all the housework while the kids are gone and have more free time to spend with them, but you'd have to be crazy not to use at least some of that time on yourself. ^^ )

And yes, food should be enjoyed. I am convinced that food you enjoy, even if it may have slightly less than perfect stats, is healthier for you than eating, for example, bland vegetables you hate.

Steelers6 said...

It is nice your friend Stacey is a cheerleader for you, [I think you have many] & I see where she is coming from with that personal experience. Sad story. Of course it doesn't relate at all to what you were saying, but I see why she feels strongly about what happened to her niece.

I wonder if she has any children? She didn't say.

That said, this is certainly a time of change for you. I feel like you might be kind of experiencing this big change for the second time. ? (saying goodbye to her brother when he was starting 1st grade, thought he was possibly last one bc he was at the time, then princess joined fam.) That was my experience, and I had savored every moment of having last son home alone with me, then had to say goodbye, then daughter later..savored every moment of our girl time and then alone again.

Each time school starts (and ends) it IS an adjustment. I know you will find your groove.

It will be a new one for you to have some time to spend on YOU. That is a fine thing too. After all the caring for others you have done, (most of your life?) it will probably even seem wrong. But let me encourage you that it is so right. Bikeride, dog walk, rollerblade, read, however you want to spend some "me" time is perfectly ok! But you will probably need to come to realize that bc it seems so out of place/peculiar.

Odd how such a perfectly normal (to ME), share the Mommy heart post got several responses that seemed to come from a totally different angle. Since I can relate to what you have shared, I never saw that coming. Keep us updated!

Wishing you the best, Chrissy

Werner said...

I know exactly how you feel. My youngest (of three) turned 18 and suddenly you have all this time. No running around for everyone else. Your time is your own.

It will take some adjusting, but you will like the new found time to invest in yourself.

Anonymous said...

a part-time job would be fun and give you some extra $$$$.. good luck!

Anonymous said...

lucky you - i'd love to be able to work a part-time job when the kids are in school. perfect time to do something just for you...xo P

Lisa said...

I dread the day when my youngest will start school yet look forward to raising great kids. :) I already fear an empty nest and my yougest so far is only 2. lol

Lyn said...

A final note to the jealous~

I know I am blessed to not be pressed to work full time right now. I do cherish that because it won't last forever. But before you wish for what I have, remember. Remember the decade I had of being a divorced mother working full time and going to school and living in poverty, trying to provide for my little ones. Remember I had to sacrifice greatly just to give them a pair of shoes to replace the ones that their toes were sticking out of in the snowy winter. Remember I worked harder than many ever have to, just to give them a stable home and food on the table. Remember I spent years caring for a critically ill baby who they said might not survive, and that three of my five children have serious medical issues... one of which is still life-threatening. Remember I lost two babies, and how my mother treated me and hurt me for so many years before dying in my arms.

I am not complaining. I know I am blessed. But there are also other heartaches I do not share on the blog. Would you really be jealous of what I have lived, all of it? Would you go through those things just to be able to have a handful of years of NOT working full time at the end of it? I wouldn't. Trust me, it might break you.

We all have our trials and blessings, and it is easy to look at someone from the outside and wish for what they have. But be careful what you wish for. You can't get the reward without traveling the very difficult path that leads up to it.

Anonymous said...

it's not jealousy lyn... it's about feeling good about yourself and connecting with other people - friendshps etc... whatever works for you is great... but many of us take pride in our work - it's not always about the $$$$.... god bless... Pat

Lyn said...

Anonymous (Pat)~

I was addressing the ones who actually did express jealousy.

I take pride in my work too, Pat, even though I don't get paid for it.

Anonymous said...

enjoy this next phase of your life Lyn - it all goes by so fast... new chapter for you to create wonderful memories... best to you Lyn.. Pat