Empty Nest Syndrome (nevermind, they’re back)

Family Picture 2011
Family Picture 2010 – Billy, Me, Jon, Austin, Sabrina, Shalyn (in the sundress), Zakkary, and Dustin (red shirt). Photo credit to my sister-in-law.

Just a few years ago, my home was overflowing, now it’s an empty nest.  Or it was.  That picture was taken in 2010.  Sometimes it seems like forever ago, but other times it feels like just yesterday.  Fast forward to 2017: Austin and Billy are both married, Austin has two kids of his own.  Sabrina is a junior in college, Dustin lives on his own and is about to move far away from home.  Shalyn and Zakk are both in middle school.  And I don’t know where the time went.

Victoria's little baby toes during her first birthday shoot.
My granddaughter Victoria’s little baby toes during her first birthday shoot. Photo credit to my sister-in-law.

By 2016, I only had two left at home, Sabrina and Zakkary.  Shalyn lives with her mom, so even though she’s the youngest, she still isn’t really in my nest.  With Sabrina being in college full time, holding office in her fraternity (Zeta Tau Alpha), and working two jobs, I never saw her.  Zakkary was always off flexing his new teenage freedoms, and I found myself being home alone…a lot!

I realized we were at the end of me being the most important person in my children’s lives.  It hit me hard, I’ll admit.  I didn’t know what to do with myself.  My entire adult years had revolved around these six people, who no longer NEEDED me physically.  I did a great job of teaching them to be self-sufficient, maybe too great.  Soon I discovered, while they were off learning how to be independant, I had never learned how to be alone.

When I was 17, I moved straight from my parent’s house to my first husband’s house, where I immediately became mom to a three year-old (Austin).  I legally adopted him and figured I had one, might as well have another.  By the time I was 21, the same age Sabrina is now, I had three kids.  Then came the divorce, I packed up and moved to Georgia bringing Austin, Sabrina, Dustin, and Zakkary with me.

An Empty Nest…

My house was always full, I always had the kids and their friends running around.  Austin was the first to move out, he now lives in Maine.  Dustin was next, he moved 30 minutes away to South Carolina, now he’s getting ready to move to Arkansas.  Billy married this year and moved two and a half hours away to Atlanta.

My granddaughter Victoria during her 1st birthday photo shoot (now 3).
My granddaughter Victoria during her 1st birthday photo shoot (now 3). Photo credit to my sister-in-law, editing by me.

So I knew I needed to find my own thing away from my children and it was a completely foreign idea to me.  I forced myself to go to dinner and a movie alone, just to prove that it wouldn’t be the most horrible experience of my life.  It wasn’t, though I didn’t repeat it again.  I started reading for pleasure again, 23 books in 2016.  Most over 700 pages.  That was okay, but I needed more.

2014 - All the kids plus our granddaughter. Billy, Bailey, Sabrina holding Victoria, Dustin, Jessica, Austin. Shalyn and Zakkary.
March 2014 – All the kids plus our granddaughter. Billy, Bailey, Sabrina holding Victoria, Dustin, Jessica (Victoria’s mom), Austin. Shalyn and Zakkary in front. Photo credit to my sister-in-law.

My husband and I are both more introverted than anything and we never made “couple friends”.  I also was always more the type to have one or two close friends rather than a lot of them.  But with so many kids taking up my time, even the close friendships faded away into nothing.   I’ve been functioning as a single parent since March of last year.  Jon and I are currently separated; not by choice for either one of us, but that’s another story.  So when I say I was alone, I really mean I was alone.

Around June of last year, I started crocheting again.  I had learned it and then put it down.  It started with a few scarves from free patterns but I was never really happy with them.  Finally I found a pattern that was more than basic crochet and I loved it!  I showed it off to my friends through Facebook, where I had a few ask me if they could buy one.  All of a sudden, I was creating something people liked and actually wanted!  One of them, a supervisor at work at the time, convinced me to open an Etsy shop and that was the beginning of Designing Us.

Fringed Scarf, the first item I was really proud of.
Fringed Scarf, the first item I was really proud of.

Another friend brought an elephant pattern by Ira Rott to my attention.  It looked challenging for my fledgling beginner skills and a challenge was exactly what I needed right then!

Crochet Elephant, pattern by Ira Rott
Crochet Elephant Pillow, pattern by Ira Rott

That elephant gave me a time.  I didn’t know what a shell stitch was and that was all those ears were made of.  Luckily, the designer gave great instruction and I eventually figured it out on my own.

So my Etsy shop was going, I was getting a few orders here and there and I decided I needed another big project to fill my time. I already had a website but hadn’t done anything with it.  In January, I threw myself into it.  I had started designing websites when everyone still had dial-up and there was no such thing as drag and drop or plug-ins.  So I had to get up to date, because very little had to be manually HTML coded anymore (I started web design before Java existed, ouch!).

Then they wanted me around again…

I had the Etsy shop and the blog, my time was full again.  Then Sabrina and Zakkary started spending more time at home.  Both had been home and in bed by ten each night.  Yes, even my 21 year old college student.  All of a sudden, she was staying up with me until 2 am.  “Mom!  One more episode of Gilmore Girls!”  Oh and God Forbid, if I paused the show to watch the next set of instructions for my crochet square on YouTube!

Nuts About Squares CAL squares - Weeks 1 - 3
Nuts About Squares CAL squares – Weeks 1 – 3

We’ve always been a living room family.  Very little time was spent locked away in a bedroom, even for the kids in their teens.  It was never a conscious decision any of us made, we just liked being in the same room.  So when there’s more than one person at home, that’s where you’ll find us.  When the kids were little, I even had the desktop computer in the living room so that I could keep an eye on them when I was working.  I also always tried to find jobs that still allowed me to be available to the family when I was needed.  There was a three year period where I worked really long hours, and honestly, that contributed to my divorce.  But they pretty much grew up with mom always being right there.

Sabrina’s Spring classes ended two weeks ago and she didn’t have to leave for work until 2 pm.  There went my mornings.  Zakkary walks in the door at 3:20 every afternoon.  Taking me from endless hours of alone time to a measly little hour and twenty minutes and I’m not getting anything done anymore!  He gets off the school bus, walks into the house every day, comes into my bedroom where I tend to work now, and always says, “You’re coming out to the living room now, right?” He only has 7 days left of school.  Darn good parenting again, he makes all A’s and B’s, so I can’t even send him to summer school, lol.   Isn’t that the way parenting goes though?  Just as you finally adjust to your children’s new habits, schedules, and personalities, they change it up on you!

And the point is?

So all of that is why my posts aren’t coming through as consistently as they once were.  I’ve taken it down to just the CAL on Tuesdays and the Designing You! link party on Thursdays for the summer.  At the time I posted Week Three of the CAL, it was technically Wednesday, but I hadn’t been to bed yet so I’m counting it as Tuesday.  There will be the occasional update post (like this one) here and there.  But I’m going to enjoy my children while they’re still letting me and I’m going to rack up some good projects to share with you once they go back to school.

Sabrina made it into the highly competitive summer volunteer program at Augusta University Health Center!
Sabrina made it into the highly competitive summer volunteer program at Augusta University Health Center!

Sabrina did make it into the highly competitive Summer volunteer program at one of our local hospitals, so maybe I won’t be having as many Gilmore Girl binges soon.  She attends Augusta University which is connected to Augusta University Health Services which is connected to the Medical College of Georgia which owns one of the hospitals.  Yeah, we’re all confused too. They’ve changed the names of all of the above so many times in the last three years, no one knows what’s going on!

I’ll adjust to the new schedules again eventually and my posts will start being more active, but I’ve never been great with time management, so it might take a bit.  Be patient with me and I promise, I already have some pretty great crafts already finished to share with you in a few months!

Keep creating!  I know I will (even if it’s at 3 am!)

Family Picture - December 2015
Family Picture – December 2015   Dustin, Me, Jon, Billy. Zakkary, Shalyn, Sabrina, Bailey-Billy’s wife.  I’m wearing four inch heels, almost all of them are taller than me <3. Photo credit to my sister-in-law.

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