Empty Nest Nostalgia A Distillation of Lessons Learned
Many writers don’t actually love writing, they love having written. The same is true of parenting. It’s generally a lot less stressful, and tons more fun, when viewed from the empty nest perspective of having parented.
Our daughter Emma is in college and our son Peter will soon graduate from high school. Both of them have turned out surprisingly well in spite of inept parenting during their formative years. I should qualify that: My friends often remarked on how well-behaved our kids were, but at the time, I was pretty sure it was just a lucky fluke. Like many newly-minted parents, we were making it up as we went along.
Shortly after Emma was born, my husband started traveling more frequently for work, so I got to wing it solo.
Awesome! I was still working part-time and breast-feeding (or pumping) every four hours, so each day was a battle to stay awake. I felt like a marathon runner on a hellish course where malicious officials kept moving the finish line; no matter how hard I ran, I couldn’t cross the ticker tape.
Things improved when Emma started sleeping through the night, so of course we decided to get pregnant again! When Peter arrived, my husband and I economized so I could stay home with the kids. Emma had been colicky; Peter was jaundiced and always hungry. Both had frequent ear infections, teething pain, fevers, and night terrors. I discovered that ‘not working’ (i.e. staying home with a toddler and a newborn) was pretty exhausting.
Parenting began to resemble a series of roller-coaster rides; we could see the hurdles clearly, but navigating them was rough (especially since poop and vomit were usually involved). Most of the time, we hung on screaming through the inverted corkscrews and dead-drops, sat there dazed at the end of the ride, then jumped out quickly, grateful to have survived yet another crisis.Continued on the next page