Many of my friends have kids going off to school the last couple of weeks. I am soooo sick of hearing about their Empty Nest syndrome!!! UGH!! Its either, OHHH, its soo quiet with them gone, or OHHHHH I am LOVING having all this alone time with my spouse. REALLY people??? Empty nest for those of us with no spouse is just that, empty. Its an entire new story when there isn't someone walking in the door at 6 for dinner, or when there is no one there to have to spend your weekends with. Sadly, my friends just don't seem to be aware of what they're saying to me. (Rant over)
My youngest started high school a couple weeks ago. That means I have a precious 4 more years of someone being in my home. That terrifies me. I decided to get a job recently (been a SAHM for over 25+ years) I was thinking maybe I could really love it and get involved and in 4 years, I'd have something to make me get up and move every day when my son is gone. So that leads me to the second part of this post...... Future Plans! I surmise/dream/contemplate my future plans a bit. Not obsessively. However, I do think, I don't want to live in this house alone (Moved here the year after I lost my husband, so no real attachment to it). I don't really even know if I want to live in this town. My older kids aren't here and no idea where they will be. So why stay? Sure I have friends, but they're all married, close to retirement age, and likely won't be here forever either. Here's the thing.... Anytime I bring up my thoughts on moving, or traveling or where and what I may do, my friends just shut me down. I constantly get...'Don't start worrying about that now!', or 'You're just causing yourself stress thinking about that!!' but the most frequent is 'You have NO idea what may happen in four years!! Everything could change dramatically'. Here's the thing, when I was married...we planned!! We planned a lot. We talked, we dreamed, we changed plans, we altered plans. And none of that mattered. But we planned. And 100% sure, my friends and their husbands do too! So why does every single person I know, tell me NOT to worry about the future and not to plan?? Why does a widow not know whats coming, but they do?? I can guarantee four years ago I had absolutely no idea where I'd be right now, and I was the happily married planner!! As a widow, shouldn't I be planning even more?? Why on earth does everyone need to tell me to not stress and just see what happens?? I want to scream at them that they are the ones with NO IDEA what can change, I know! I've lived it!
Ok, rant(s) done! But, makes me curious....Once you got to a point where you were ready to look at the future, how did losing your spouse change the way you plan out things? How does being on your own change the way planning looks now?
(Sorry if this is a bit much!)
Jabs, no worries - this is not even at all a bit much!!!
I'm in the same place...kids are at school, and the nest is TOTALLY empty. In fact my son is working and living with GF near where daughter is at college. Who knows where she'll go for grad school, and she's been (and so has he) been pushing me to move closer to work, so my commute wouldn't be so horrid. Part of me wants to part of me doesn't...but I'm...I'm moving towards...moving. And if daughter ends up in Cali or NY or Boston then I'm going to (hopefully) get a job there and get the heck out and not turn back.
Listen, my regret is that when my passed away 6 years ago, we didn't move. Of course emotionally I couldn't leave the house and of course everyone was saying don't make big decisions, etc etc etc. BUT - had we moved back to NY then, we would be around family, etc., and I think it would have been good for us. So...listen - do what feels right to you. Period!
Thanks Timelord...Yes, lots of it would be based on kids I'm sure. Oldest is married, middle is in school and like I said, youngest is starting HS. I'm not as worried about what everyone thinks, mostly, I'm just confused as to why people suddenly think I'm supposed to wait it out and not get too worried about the future. Is there something about being single that means we just are supposed to drift along and see where we wind up??
Its hard to see a future now because it has no resemblance to what I used to see coming. I don't like the feeling of not having some idea, some control of whats to come. Being a widow has brought me enough lack of control in my world!!
There always are people who are well meaning and give us advice... sometimes good sometimes...bad.
What to me has always been true is that the one I truly want advice from isn't here.
It's hard enough to plan...life...as well all know...often has its own ideas...but I will just again say this...and I learned this the hard way. Do what you thinks works best for you and your kids. Period. And future...to some extent the school and of our respective kids .at dictate that...which is perhaps good...some marker by the road.
Jabs, there is a lot of healing and power in planning, daydreaming, researching, and exploring options. To be able to control your own destiny is the most self-empowering thing we can do for ourselves.
It's an interesting opportunity - do decide where you want to live, just because you want to live there. The only thing holding me here at my house is my own choice - I love the house, and I can take care of it for now, and it's close to where I work. However, at some point it will no longer suit my needs. Therefore, if I could live anywhere, where would that be? Would I build something? Be close to my kids? go somewhere else in the country? To plan for that kind of future is a form of hope, and that's what we all really need, isn't it?
As for planning alone, vs with my spouse, it's both hard and slightly freeing. I dearly miss how John and I could feed off one another in brainstorming our future plans. On the other hand, John was not one for idle day-dreaming; the 'pie-in-the-sky' type of imagining was tedious to him. I find it to be a creative past-time that helps me tap into options I wouldn't have thought of otherwise.
Another big change in the planning is that I've spent 30 years planning for the "future". Well, even though it doesn't look like what I imagined, the "future" is here. It's a big mental shift to change from planning for retirement and the socking money away mentality, to a planning for how to carefully manage my resources so that all the work we have done up to now doesn't get frittered away.
And last, some thoughts about your friends. It would be easy to say that you should find some new friends, but have a little sympathy for them. What you are planning for a) doesn't line up with what they are planning for, and they can't relate, and b) your plans may mean some sadness for them, if you move away. On the other hand, friends should sometimes suck it up and just let the conversation happen. And maybe there are some of your friends that you can say that to? "hey, I really love to play the "what if" game, but you keep shutting me down - I need a trusted person to play along with me once in a while - can you do that?"
Good for you for taking your future into your own hands and trying to rebuild a life that works for you. Bravo!
Jabs, totally into the planning what comes next! Once I turned 64, suddenly retirement loomed large. So what does that look like? Well I can tell you I am not sitting on my haunches waiting for it to come. I am planning. I am currently in a good place and do hope to enjoy it when I do retire. But then I have one more move - to a place in Maine with my sister.We won't live together but we want to live near each other as in stop in for a cup of coffee. So that is what I am planning. I have so many lists and check lists, it's crazy, But it's my crazy!
(Side note: had immediate empty list when my husband died. We didn't have any children)