best transition ever: grandparenting
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with Natalie caine

Empty nest

March 6, 2004 | by Natalie Caine | No Comments

By Natalie Caine |

I think when your child is gone off to college there are times the aging fear comes to visit. I have noticed I internally feel very energetic and most days I still have energy to do all I want to do, but that haunting feeling that I am “aging” visits me.

It is not the way I look, like sagging or wrinkles, or less toned, it is that I am older. Simply older. I have a child in college and that marks that time has truly leapt ahead and I don’t have forever to be around. Sometimes that feeling is a motivator for me to check in with myself and be sure I am taking my vitamins, getting some exercise, taking time to quiet myself , breathe and drop into a short meditative place, and that I am having fun and feeling some pride in me.

A time to grieve what I probably won’t ever be doing or have and a time to appreciate who I am and what I do have in life. That is where some of the sorrow comes from when we are Empty Nesters. There’s a NOTICING of oneself that life is different now…. I still feel that I have my inner youth and didn’t lose it when my young adult daughter, who carried so much of that energy, went off to college. I still have my own youthful feeling and I am proud of it. That energy gives me dreams and aliveness.

At this stage of my life, and actually since that powerful menopause heat, that visited me early in life, I know how to ask for what I want and I have my own voice, so the power side of me is a good friend, along with the youthful inner energy. But patience is still a challenge. I am doing better, but with this transition of life and wanting what I want, because the clock is ticking, I sometimes get irritable because “I JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN.”

I am not always as tolerant about the mundane parts of the day.When those feelings come up, I see them as a time to check in again and feel into what do I need right now… I do feel better when I slow down that way and check in because I know I am being good to myself. Most of the time, I hear an inner answer of what I need then. It could be, as easy as, slow down, get off your feet and do nothing, or I need to get out of here, meaning I need to get out of town and have some nurturing , relaxation, or out of town meaning , change the scenery and just go to a different part of town for dinner or a museum.

Nature renews me and I like going for walks and eating yummy foods. Where I live, I get those chances because the weather is more consistent. I say I am going to take my art supplies, but don’t always because then my inner pusher could come out and tell me I have to “GET SOMETHING DONE SO DO ART.” What I need is to simply be and space out . So I take nothing with me but food.

It is a learning process to figure out what you need and how to get it. I am ok with experimenting. I just know that I am committed to me and caring for me. Great if others join in, but the truth is, it is up to me to check in with myself and at the same time ask for help.. Oh the joys of being “an ADULT.”

So remind yourself that, as I tell my daughter, “it is normal to feel this way. Treat yourself well, as you would advise a friend that came to you for help. Advise yourself that, too. BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF.”

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Natalie Caine, M.A.