And a prologue to empty nesting, in which I learn how to be alone again.
Wow, Jenna. We are certainly in similar places, both as parents and as COVID-cautious folks wondering about the change in social landscapes. I think about the energy in our house now that the kids have moved out, and I feel both relief/possibility/excitement and longing/lethargy/"now what?" I'm convinced that going through this transition in community will help us all. Glad to be connected here.
I really appreciate how honest and relatable you write. Zero pretension. How refreshing.
We're in the tween/ teenage stage now, and I see all that you've written about here in subtle forms. I know they're going to get more pronounced over the high school years. Trying to navigate it all with as much sense of being present for the kids in whatever ways they need as you seem to have been /are for your kids.
I'm so happy that you're finding a groove in this strange new world we're living in. We're all forever changed by covid.
Thank you Jenna. ❤️
Oof on the timing, as we just took our daughters (11 and 8) to the art museum this weekend and thought, they're finally at the age where these family outings are so much fun for all of us! I feel like I can sense the years slipping by already, even as my daughters insist that they'll probably always think we're cool (one actually said that to me yesterday, and I wanted to softly cup her cheek and whisper, "that's a LIE, honey.").
It's such a weird phenomenon to try to raise them to be the best people they can be, revel in how cool they are as they grow into themselves, and then just... have to give them up to the world? I mean, I know that's part of the journey, but, ugh, that seems impossibly hard.
I know this feels like the first year since 2020 where real living seems like an option. I really feel the lost time with my teen. I know I wanted to "make the last summers count" with her, and I'm not sure that we can. I know its more than vacations and all that, but I'm really feeling these lost years even as I put them behind me and try to find some life. Thank you for these posts!!!
Everyone talks about Empty Nest but what no one talks about is how the whole school social sphere dissipates! I'm so glad you brought that up. It was such a weird thing to experience. In some ways it was a good thing. It allowed me to cull my circle including those who truly enriched me with their company. As an introvert, it forced me to get out more, but it was most hard on those who were extroverts. Now that all the kids are grown, the school years seem like another chapter in life, like when I was in college. When I think upon that time, the sun is always shining and everyone is smiling. Today, I get to focus on myself again like it was before I had kids. It's not a bad gig! :)
Jenna, I followed your writing for many years when it was Sweet Fine Day and found myself thinking about you literally yesterday. I opened Substack this morning and stumbled onto this space, to find you writing so beautifully about an era of life I’m just starting to navigate! (My kids are 14 and 12, my parents and in-laws are ageing, my midlife health is not ideal...) It feels like kismet?
Anyway, so glad to have found you on here and really look forward to reading more. Thanks for sharing 💚
Your words are always so real and beautiful.