At the beginning of this school year, I was a little scared, dreading that new phase in life where all birdies will have flown out… The empty nest syndrome, yes! Youngest started college and would be living in another town during the week. Oldest was looking for a job, preferably abroad. And Daughter started her last year of studying, also living elsewhere. So it would just be hubbie and me on weekdays.
To comfort myself, I started listing the advantages of having more time and more freedom: less cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, ironing, tidying up and much more freedom for hobbies, courses, friends.
Very soon I realized the list with advantages was long. Filling up that extra time was easy.
With the school year now coming to an end, I can tell you I didn’t suffer from any syndrome at all.
While the weekdays are calm, the weekends are crowded. We always have extra guests, staying overnight in our finished basement. Oldest and Daughter have a steady girl/boyfriend, and they stay for lunch, dinner and sometimes breakfast. And youngest likes to bring home a bunch of friends in the evenings. A full nest, yes. The birdies didn’t fly that far.
In one of my other posts I told you I wrote a diary for my children. If you still have young children, this is a very personal and special gift you can hand over to your children when they are older. We take so many (too many, if you ask me) pictures nowadays, that it becomes less special to look at. And a picture by itself doesn’t always tell enough. Written memories and stories are unique. I started writing when Oldest was four. As a young mother, I felt the urge to go back to my own childhood to compare how my parents dealt with raising children. But it was hard to do. My mother passed away when I was young, and memories fade so easily. I decided it was important to capture both special and also day-to-day ordinary moments in my book. I didn’t have the time to write each day, just a page every few months: a few anecdotes, some achievements, but also events on a larger scale, how the world was changing and how things could have an impact on their lives in the future. Why we, as parents, made certain decisions, which often they could not understand being a child but hopefully would appreciate as grown-ups…. I printed a copy for each child, and gave it to them for their eighteenth birthday. They were so appreciative, very grateful, and loved rereading all those faraway memories.
I copied a small part here underneath from the time we were living in the States for three years. I wrote a lot about the cultural differences back then. There were many more than I ever expected before moving. It was such an amazing experience, hard sometimes, but I am still grateful we got this opportunity as a family. So if you ever get the chance to live in another country for a while, just seize it!
Thursday, September 20th, 2000
Hurray, I can feel my muscles today! I was finally able to do some stepping at the YMCA, while Andreas stayed at the kiddies club. He still wasn’t pleased to be left behind, but they could tame him this time.
Last night, hubbie was home on time, so we could all go to “Back to school night.” Parents are invited in their kids classes and the teacher tells them what is scheduled on this years program. This is also the perfect moment to get to know all of the teachers and there are a lot. Daughter, for instance, has seven teachers: Mrs Van Blarcom for 1st grade, Mrs Gomez for ESL (English as a Second Language), Mrs Benet for Spanish, the music teacher, the art teacher, the gym teacher and an assistant for mathematics. From the conversations we could make out that our children are liked very much: “He is such a nice boy”, “He has done so well over the last year” and “She is such a sweetie.” Or maybe they were just being very polite 😉
We went home with two big folders containing instructions: how to help our children with their homework, and what their goals and responsibilities are for this school year. The eighteen “health objectives” Daughter received only made me laugh, a few examples:
- to be able to explain that AIDS is a communicable disease that is hard to catch.
- to be able to explain that stress and dealing with stress are both natural parts of living.
- to be able to identify alcoholism as a treatable disease, and to identify a resource available to help people who have alcoholism in the family.
Oh, please. She is only six! But I guess I’d better wait to pour myself a glass of white wine till my Sweetie is in dreamland. Wouldn’t want her to think I have a problem 😉