My nest emptied way before I was ever ready, then filled with another set of chicks, who have also now flown away. My born kids went to live with their father when they were teens and never came back “home.” They still live in Los Angeles where he is, and I don’t even live in that state. Then, starting when I was in my 50’s, I raised a stepson and a grandson, also now climbing their own mountains and clearing their own paths. They are all very, very different people and would never meet in the ordinary course of their lives, other than that they are all my children and they all carry part of my imprinting with them, for better or worse – and a piece of my heart.
Only one of the four – my handsome, creative stepson – lives anywhere close by. I am grateful for that and love him dearly but am prepared that at some point his career – or life – might also take him to another state. Life is unpredictable.
This is not how it was “supposed to be.” I was born in 1941 and graduated high school in 1958. Before birth control, even, think about that ladies! My parents held big Christmas celebrations every year and all the kids and grandkids were expected then and at other times through the year. That never happened for me and for many years I grieved it. It didn’t happen for many other people either, I learned, after divorces became popular (I never expected the first one of those – I was shocked.). When my sons think “home for Christmas,” aside from their own homes, they think of their dad and step-mom’s. Water under the bridge. I can’t fix it.
It all is what it is and I am happy in my life today. I have friends, and a faith life and a wonderful partner for 20 years now – and no, we will not marry. That would guarantee disaster, as both of our multiple marriages and divorces prove. My story is far more complex than these paragraphs but I am tying to convey a single concept – my self reliance.
Today I am grateful my children – the oldest of whom is 43, the youngest 24 – are all finding their way in life and I realize that though I was one of the people who raised them, they don’t belong to me. I can love them and I do, but for me to expect them to stop what they are doing to attend to my emotional needs is a step too far. I realize that the grief I experienced for years about our family situation, and still do when I don’t consciously let go, comes from my “attachment” to an outcome or a picture in my head from life in the 1950’s that they don’t share. EXPECTATIONS and dangerous. I “needed” them to be my family when they no longer needed me. I could not face that empty nest. They resented my neediness.
My sanity lies in my focus on my life and not theirs. This way I can be pleasantly surprised when I hear from them and happy in my life outside of them. Of course I think about them every day, but in a “blessing them” kind of way and a hoping they are well, not in a “needing them” kind of a way.
Make sense? It’s part of taking charge of my own happiness and not leaving it in the hands of anyone else, however dear. I am the only person occupying this skin, and the only person who has been and will be with me from first breath until last, and, as Abraham Lincoln is supposed to have said, “I am about as happy as I make up my mind to be.”
Be good to you. Smile and be happy today. hugs, gerry