Full Nest, Empty Nest, COVID Nest, and the pain of letting go . . .
While I was on hold for over three hours exasperated with the company that hosts my website, I glanced at my whiteboard and all I had planned to accomplish today. On August 19th, 2020, my to-do list was long. Then like a rogue wave when your back is turned at the beach, I was dragged under by the memory that today is the 40th anniversary of my Mom’s death. 40 years is a long time and the blink of an eye. It seems that deep grief is always at the ready. (FYI—frustration and grief are not fun office companions.)
Thinking about all the important events that I didn't get to share with my mom got me thinking about letting go. How she let me and my brothers go when we went off to college. She must have been very lonely. By that time my parent’s marriage was a formality only, and I know, now that my kids are launching, a little of what she must have endured.
There are daily lessons in letting go. Today I need to let go of the frustration that builds up from climbing mountains and avoiding pitfalls when building an online business to help women. And, there is the need to let go of metrics, goals, percentages, ROI, perfectionism, and achievement markers —when trying to do it all online during a pandemic. Yet we are ALL living our lives during a pandemic. I am by no means unique.
That got me thinking about my kids endeavoring to start their own lives, and my struggles with a partially empty nest, a partially abandoned nest, and now a rebound to safety COVID-nest. I was thinking about my three kids and their struggles to find their path, which will inevitably be away from me. That is how it should be. They will be independent people living their own lives. I remember how much I enjoyed my independent life in my 20’s.
And now, I wonder how often will I see my kids, my constant companions for the last 28 years, give or take?
How often did I make the time to see my Mom when I was their age? If I use myself as an example, I had better not depend on my kids to fill my days.
Will they want to spend time with me, or will I be relegated to the occasional lunch, birthday dinner, and mandatory holidays? It’s hard to let go of anticipation, expectation, and desire when it comes to one’s kids, especially when you like them. One of my favorite phrases from Buddhism is, “Expectation leads to disappointment."
I will try not to fall into that trap—because it’s true. Every time. If it were not for COVID, there would be fewer of us together daily. I'm trying to squeeze as much joy, love, and appreciation out of a family lockdown as I can. One day COVID will end, thank goodness. Yes, life will change, again. I will have to learn to let go and let them live their own lives, including me where they will and inviting them into my life as often as I can.
Midlife shifts and adjustments come in many shapes and sizes. We each have our ships, with their particular leaks and buildup of barnacles to captain. No one teaches us what to expect when we get older, no one warns you of the very real changes and stages that we live through. Midlife is full of letting go, putting to rest, and reassessing. It can also be full of new beginnings, recreation, and new journeys. We are the first generation of women to have 20-30 years to recreate ourselves at midlife. 50 is no longer old age. Time to be you for you, and me for me, and find a way to serve others at the same time.
A woman’s life is change.