the nest

the nest

Thursday, February 28, 2013


As life moves along, we begin to say "goodbye" more and more.  Our children engage more in the world without us, friends move away, others say goodbye in a more permanent way, or they don't.  They leave us to say goodbye.  We say goodbye to dreams and ideas, people and places.
Some goodbyes are good ~ goodbye to a hated job or class.  Goodbye to 10 lbs!  Others are harder.  Goodbye to the things you thought you would do by now.  Goodbye to the fantasy life, child, job, whatever.
Others are really hard.
Yesterday I got a phone call I was expecting, but hoped to never get.  My dear friend Ellen had passed away Tuesday night.  "Auntie Ellen", as my children called her, was a sweet presence in our lives.  She did not have children of her own, but LOVED and CHERISHED her own nieces and nephews and so many other children.  Too many to count.  I really saw how she loved my children.
When we were 24 and new to our church, Ellen welcomed us with the open arms of family and celebrated with us when we told her we were expecting our first child.  She stood with us when Andrew's baptism was remembered here in Connecticut and became his "Connecticut Godmother".  We both lived far from our families, both with two sisters and a brother, and we understood what it was like to be far away from that network of love and support.
Over the 20 years she was a part of our lives, we took her love for granted.  While she was always there for us, I don't know if we were always there for her.  Absorbed in the chaos of raising children, we didn't always reach out.  We included her in our lives when we NEEDED her and when we would think of it; sometimes last minute.  She however, was always there.  Sitting through concerts and recitals, taking our children to see Santa year after year as a special Christmas outing ~ celebrating Christmas with us, sometimes in late January!
Over the years her bond with my daughters became especially strong as they shared sleepovers and shopping trips.  Going to the Dollar Store with Auntie Ellen was much more fun than going with Mom!
I expected to have more time with her - I needed her to help me get my girls through adolescence.  Those significant adults that play a role in your child's life are SO IMPORTANT, and she was one that cannot be replaced.
A week before she died, she left Connecticut on short notice to join her family in Ohio to be cared for in Hospice.  This is where she needed to be and I'm grateful that she got there.  Jeff, Andrew and I were able to see her the weekend before she left.  When I called about bringing the girls to see her, she couldn't do it.  I understand.  Her grief and shock were so strong, she just couldn't bear to say goodbye to the people she loved.  I understand it, and know that my role now is to help my girls say goodbye.  Sadly this will be one of many goodbyes to come over the years.

As life moves along, we say goodbye more and more.

Monday, February 4, 2013

trying too hard

I've been struggling lately with whether I've done what I wanted to do to prepare my children for the world.  Now they haven't actually launched yet, at least all the way, but I've been all wrapped up in whether I've been the kind of mom I wanted to be.  Whether I'm BEING the kind of mom I want to be now.
I love Janet Lansbury's Blog "Elevating Childcare".  So many times I'll read a post, and although they often have to do with infants and young children, they frequently have relevance for my almost grown children.
One post she shared spoke of the idea that "We need to be the person we want our child to be."  Seems so simple.  In many ways our children are the best of my husband and me.  At those moments, I'm so satisfied and proud.  I'm confident that they will go on to have great lives!
There are also times though when I see those parts of me that I'm not so pleased with reflected back at me in the face of an angry teenager.  Impatient, selfish, stubborn...  It's all there.
Because these similarities are pretty clear though, I can deal with all of them.  I may not like it and there is a certain amount of karmic justice that I'm sure gives my parents a chuckle here and there, but I can take it in, address it, modify my own behavior and hope they follow suit.
What is harder to address are some of the more subtle things.  If I'm never satisfied with what I'm contributing to the world, how will they absorb that?  Will they always be dissatisfied?  With they think I'm dissatisfied with them?   I love my work and I know my children see that, but I also long to do more, to make a more significant, measurable difference in the world.  While I want them to strive to always do good in the world, I want them to relish the life they create and find joy and satisfaction in the work they choose.  I want them to feel complete.

I think my first step is to step BACK.  Allow them to find their way with a little less "support" from me.  All the little things I do to make their day move along are things that, if they were responsible for them, would be steps towards feeling competent and satisfied with themselves.
It's their life, not mine.  I have to remind myself that at this point, I need to trust they've learned what I want them to learn and know enough to make their choices.  Their choices may or MAY NOT reflect on me.  If I've done my job, they will feel confident enough to take chances, make choices, mess up and start again.  They'll know that I'll love them no matter what and will always be there to help them up and push them out of the nest again after they've had a rest.
I don't know if they know this.  I hope they will someday.  It's my story and I'm sticking to it.