This blog started as a journal about my emptying nest, and as it’s been more than four years since I wrote this ‘About’ page, I think it’s time for an update.
The emptying nest is still an ongoing progress. Our oldest daughter is now 23, and living in Vancouver. #1 son is 21, a red seal chef and currently working in England just for the heck of it. #2 son has graduated from high school and is still deciding what he wants to do with his life.
As for me and my husband, Tarance? We launched ourselves into full-on post-parenting with so much speed that we’re still a little shell-shocked.
One of Tarance’s friends in the horticulture industry approached him to buy a 50-year old tree farm and nursery operation just outside Calgary. Oh how we laughed at the absurdity of the suggestion! Like we needed to make our lives any more complicated.
Then, inevitably and just for the fun of it, we ventured into the realms of ‘what if’. We knew we shouldn’t go there, and rightly so, because that path led us straight to ‘maybe this is the challenge we need for when the children are all moved away’. By then, there was no turning back. We reminded ourselves how much money we were throwing away leasing a commercial yard for our own tree farm and landscaping company – money which could be so much more productively put toward a mortgage. And suddenly, inexplicably, we were buying 105 acres and moving to the countryside.
The operation that we purchased has been gradually winding down for about the last seven years, so we didn’t actually buy it as a going concern. But every day our plans and dreams for the place get bigger. And we’ve gone from being suburbunites with three children to country folk with two grown children, one mostly absent teenager and a project.
Bear with me as I try to get my head around exactly what we’ve gone and done.
So here I am, a year after my first crack at this ‘About’ page, still going strong. But I have mixed feelings about my progress.
One thing I have found is that my decision not to use names is rather annoying. So, I have fixed on the solution of making some up. From here on in, the main cast of characters includes:
- Roxy – child number one, a daughter aged 18
- Sunny Jim – child number two, a son aged 16
- Hoss – child number three, a son aged 13.
I haven’t made up a name for my husband who I will probably just refer to as hubby (a word I really despise, but it does seem to be conveniently explanatory)
For the last 17 years I have been at the beck and call of three extremely demanding individuals; living my life vicariously through the exploits of my offspring.
You can only imagine my surprise when my first graduated this summer. It seems that all that work has culminated in the release of an adult who is ready to live a self-reliant, productive existence. While I appreciate that a flight from the nest is not always the end-result of high school, this particular child is anxious to leave, not just the nest, but the country. She is currently having a year off in anticipation of continuing her studies abroad.
I still have two left at home, but I have nonetheless been jolted to the realization that I need to get a life before they’re all gone. I’m sure I can rely on at least one of my boys to live at home until he’s 36, but somehow that’s not looking particularly attractive, either.
The way I see it, I have five years in which to rediscover the autonomous adult lurking beneath this motherly exterior, and this blog is my way of keeping track of my progress.
My freelance copywriting business is an obvious outlet. I have been operating at various degrees of part-time; fitting in around my children and frequently sitting at my computer at midnight or later because it’s the only time I can get any peace. Now, I think it’s time to step things up a notch. Building my business, and in particular building the perception among my family that my business actually matters, is a top priority for me.
But, surely there has to be more? I’m putting together a list of things I need to add back into my life in order to avoid the temptation to start wearing velour tracksuits and take up bingo.
The first and most important is the reintroduction of girlfriends. My friends and I started on the childrearing path at the same time, and we simultaneously found ourselves spending every waking moment driving kids to activities. Somehow, leaving the house for anything else became more of a drag than a treat. And so, the kids took over.
I’m afraid I have allowed my daughter to take the place of my ‘BFF’; and in fact we do spend a great deal of time laughing hysterically at things my husband just doesn’t seem to get (what is it with men, anyway?). But she has a life apart from me, and I’m starting to feel I should develop the same before she, and her brothers, trot off to their futures.
Next, I’m thinking, a hobby. Do you remember those days when you used to do things because you found them fun? It’s a distant memory, and I’m not sure I can remember what they were, but I have a list of prospects: running; hot yoga; singing; playing the piano; drinking heavily; theatre; travelling.
I know travelling is a bit of cliché, but I do have a dream of volunteering overseas. I volunteer now at Ten Thousand Villages, and fair trade is something of a passion. I’m not sure it’s practical to go dancing off to build schools in Africa while my children are still in grade school, but as soon as I’ve sat through that third graduation (now there’s an assumption that may be somewhat optimistic!), I’m off.
So, with the countdown on, I’m on a mission to get myself a life. Is it contradictory that one of the cornerstones of my search involves sitting here all by myself typing?