File this under the “Be careful what you wish for,” file.
My youngest child has been accepted into grad school at a local university (I’m not allowed to say which one, just yet, but it’s very local to our home). We are, of course, very excited to have him back home for a while. But as reality sinks in and planning gets underway, I am also a bit apprehensive. As empty nesters, we are about to have an adult roommate. In my mind I picture a sophisticated arrangement where we enjoy dinner together, maybe a glass of wine at the end of the day. I’m looking forward to someone else to do some of the cooking. On the other hand, after several years alone, my husband and I have a nice routine of our own. Our house is orderly for the first time in, well, forever. Our utility bills are manageable, the refrigerator is stocked for two, laundry is done every couple of weeks and the thermostat is set for my comfort. It’s all about to change.
Funny thing about having children; they grow up, they leave and then, one by one they each come back for a time. The challenge for me is how to maintain my independence and balance it against my automatic return to “mommy mode.” And actually, the bigger challenge is to recognize when I snap into mommy mode and then to manage myself so that I don’t get completely lost in it again. This time around, I’m expecting that said adult child will be so busy with school, studying, internships and making new friends that he won’t be around all the time. The goal, after all, is for him to launch the next chapter of his life. And as he’s been living independently in another city for the last several years, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t need us for much anymore. Additionally, I have a pretty full life myself with new friends, a business to run and volunteer work.
The first test came the other day when my son asked if he could share my office for his studies. I was a little taken aback, then calmly told him that I think it would be best to set him up in one of the other bedrooms since I use my office regularly. Privately I was a little peeved because I’ve waited years to have a nice home office that is just mine and frankly, I don’t like to share it with anyone. So, obviously we’ll have to establish boundaries.
I realize I’m getting ahead of myself right now. And I also realize I’m having a roller coaster of emotions around this child’s return. Excited, anxious, relieved, then anxious again, then back to being thrilled. At least we have a few months before our new living arrangement begins. In the meantime, I plan to do some personal work to figure out what are my boundaries and how do I want to communicate about them. I want to be aware of my own triggers so that I can be prepared and not get sucked back in. I also want to think about my expectations for this time in our lives. It will be fun to have my little buddy back, to have someone to chat with over coffee, to discuss politics with and to have my social media guru around to help with that aspect of my business. And I expect he will want to set his own boundaries and manage his expectations.
As the next few months of planning unfolds, communication will be key to making this a smooth transition. And it will be important to remember that we all love each other and want each of us to be happy and content at home. More to come.
And in other news, this past weekend I prepared my raised beds for planting. Keep watching my posts for updates on my Summer Garden 2019!
COMING SOON SUMMER 2019!
About Barbara Dab
Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood. Check it out at www.nashvillepilatescompany.com. She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation. The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors. Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com. If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.
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