It Really Does Start At Home


I actually began blogging around this time of year, almost a decade ago when I had a harder time than I expected dealing with my empty nest. It blind-sided me so much that I felt as if I was slowly drowning in a montage of feelings I didn’t understand. I mean, I’d gone through all of the firsts. Leaving  both of my babies on their first day of school and all of the milestones that came after.  Before I experienced it, I’d read a few articles about empty nest syndromes and kind of felt a little judgie when I read about how immobilized some of these parents found themselves and surprised that it was both mother’s and fathers.

I think that in reading the stories of other people’s experiences, I realized that it helped to know that others felt the same way and to learn how they dealt with things. And as I began to find my own ground again, I realized that sharing our hearts in several different circumstances  really helped. And so I began writing about “LIFE” and in turn, started getting messages from people I’d never met, thanking me for making them not feel so alone. I figured that if I could help one person feel better about what they were going through, I would share my stories. I tried several different forums before I landed here on WordPress and when I created this blog, I totally felt at home, almost as if the readers and writers that found their way to my doorstep were like a little family.

I have written about love and heartbreak, faith and depression, appreciation and kids, friends and family, life and death, living in the past, pushing forward to the future, disappointments and blessings and today because it is this time of year that prompted me to start writing, I wanted to write to the parents as they send their kids off to school. There is a saying that I have grown to love:

Teach your sons to be gentlemen and your daughters to accept nothing less.

hugging kids

As a parent of adult children I have really reflected on what this means. Some of us feel that they have succeeded at this, some of us feel that we have failed. Some of us feel that we may have gotten it right with one or a couple of our kids and have a hard time understanding what happened to the other (s). Today I would like to encourage the young moms with kids just starting out and starting new years to really talk to their kids about kindness. Because it really does start at home.

When my daughter was in first grade at a Christian School. The program was amazing. I shake my head at how amazing. The Director of her pre-school and the Principal of her Elementary school as well as staff and some of the moms are still my good friends. Life changing friends. I love them. I think that we were all praying moms with a strong faith and yet, I watched the clicks and the gossiping among the little girls and realized that though we needed to set them free as moms, we also needed to guide and teach them to pray for things together.

It  touched my heart when we moved and my daughter came home from her first day of 4th grade in a public school and said in a horrified voice. “Mom, they DON’T even pray before they eat!”  It brings tears to my eyes now because I liked it when she was protected in that sweet little cocoon at Harbor Church School. But I knew that even there, Though the staff watched out for it as much as they could… there were little bullies. And no matter what, we can’t protect our kids from them.

But we can teach them to be kind and aware. To not judge because someone is not like them or doesn’t have the same clothes or backpacks or whatever the differences are. If they see someone sitting alone or hear someone else not being nice, to try to invite that person to be part of their group. I think we need to teach our kids at a very early age, that it is not okay to leave someone out, or laugh at them or to talk about someone or make fun of them. We need to get to know their stories and where they come from. To look out for the underdogs and be their hero. You never know whose life you may change by being kind.

If every parent and every teacher would make a point of teaching our kids why bullying is wrong. And encouraging their acts of KINDNESS and making it a fun project in every elementary school, just think how different the world would be if the adults took the responsibility of the kids and taught them the true golden rule. Because you know, in the end… Bullies grow up to either be angry adults or gentlemen.

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Like A Flip Book


lonely-ghost-girl

I feel as if my life is so out of control right now. I’m kind of having a little panic attack as I do the bills.  I have no job. I mean it simply hit me that I am unemployed! My parents are aging and I am worried about that, as roles reverse and I feel the pressure. It almost feels as if my life is like a little “flip book” as all the years just flash before my eyes.

From riding in the back seat of my daddy’s car and watching the moon follow me, I remember falling asleep only to wake up as he carries me in the house, feeling safe and so content. And then all of a sudden, first dates and the ups and downs of falling in love for the first time and a couple more times after that. Of weddings and having babies, of miscarriages and parties and funerals and then more baby showers, a painful divorce and another chance and another wedding, in-between the pain of failure and the whirlwind of just living life and trying to survive with all the joys and heart aches that come with it. Never feeling that the good times lasted too long but looking back “now” and feeling that even the bad times were kind of the good old days.

I remember shopping with my daughter her freshman year of high school. We had a budget every year. My kids always got the first day of school outfit and some other new outfits, new shoes and a new backpack with school supplies. I guess it was so special for me because my dad always took me school shopping and it was this amazing tradition that I treasure more than I ever did when it was happening.

The year I remember most, my daughter and I were on a vacation with my childhood best friend. She was blessed with never needing a budget and her kids usually came out with a bag of something from each shop we went in. The girls had run ahead of us and when we walked in the store they were all already shopping. My friend’s daughters started handing their mom clothes they’d chosen, when  my daughter ran up to me with a jacket that made her eyes sparkle. I looked at the price tag and with a raised eyebrow said, “you know this one jacket is a third of your school clothes budget!” Without missing a beat she just put it back on the rack as my friend purchased more items for her daughters as they ran ahead to the next shop and my daughter happily followed.

Something kicked me deep in my heart, the way she didn’t argue or even mope. At that moment I felt richer than all the money I could ever need. It only took a second for me to grab that jacket and take out my credit card and decide that I’d just have to figure out how to stretch the budget  for that year. When I reached my daughter I handed her the bag and said, “this won’t count as part of your budget.” She burst into tears hugging me and said “Oh mama, thank you but it’s too much!” It was probably one of my best purchases I ever made. Later my stunned friend asked me, “How do you make a kid be so appreciative?” I knew that it was kind of a rhetorical question so I didn’t say what I wanted to, but the answer is  you don’t buy your kid everything they want so they appreciate the things they do get.”

Today my daughter buys her own clothes and lives her own life. Both my kids have little parts of me in them but they are mostly themselves. And I am happy they are strong and have their own personalities and are creating their own way. But at the same time I wonder where it all went? The time of buying clothes and setting curfews and driving them to this place or that place, well it sends me to a place where I feel the pages flipping by. In a way, I wonder where it all went. So fast? in my flip book of a life!

I remember my grandma telling me how in her seventies she still felt seventeen. Me too! Now as I look to my future I feel that flip book, remembering the box boy who called me Ma’am in my thirties! Or the woman at Ross asking me if I wanted the Senior Discount in my forties! I remember being size five! Where did it all go?! That little girl I once was, is just a ghost of me, but still deep down inside somewhere.

Like a flip book, I want to slow it all down, I want a do over! But then I realize that someday, these will be the good old days and that today is the oldest I have ever been and the youngest I will ever be again!

Empty Nesters Unite! As we watch our baby birds graduate and learn to let go!


 

This is the time of year…

empty birds nest

We are trying not to count the days. We know it is coming up. We are trying to be happy. And yet it is extremely hard.  This is bascially a re-share      that I posted  before my blog was very well known. I thought that I would reshare it as some of you are approaching that time in your life as you watch your babies graduate and wonder where the time has flown off to. It is hard to believe that the boy in this story is going to be 34 tomorrow! I just had to stop today to say….. Happy Birthday Chadly! Your mom loves you!

I remember when my son left home. It was his Senior Year. It was a crazy time for us to move and yet it happened. I remember always shaking my head when I’d hear stories of parents uprooting their kids from their last years of High School and yet we found ourselves in that same position. I was not ready. He was not ready. And yet it is a choice I made and will always look back and wonder about. In the end, he moved in with his dad. I am glad because his dad is gone now and it was a great bonding time for them that my son will always cherish. And yet as a mom who was pretty over protective all of his young life, I had to let go, knowing for the most part, that the supervision would not be identical. In fact, it was pretty non existent. I am pretty sure all curfews flew out the window along with my baby bird!

I remember once my son calling me and telling me that one of his dad’s room mate’s had brought home Jack In The Box for everyone but him. I am sure there was food in the house and he was not going to starve and that there may have been a good reason for leaving him out… mainly his attitude which has always been a bit challenging… Smile… But I can’t imagine his father partaking in the food while our son sat watching. Though I “get” that I was not privy to the full picture. As a mother missing her baby you can imagine my heart. So I began sending care packages.

care package

Sure I could have sent money and saved the shipping, but I found joy in choosing his favorite things and “knowing” he’d be fed. I don’t doubt that my ex was supplying the basic needs but not the hugs from his mom and so I sent those packages pretty regularly. Until I was asked not to.

One day I got a phone call asking me to “stop” (sending the packages) by my ex. He said, “Diane, you are not helping.” I will never forget how hard it was. I understood that my son was actually 18 by that time, had a job and was living rent free so just had to pay for his gas and food. My ex had moved out of his parent’s house his senior year, and  I know that he just wanted our son to grow up and learn about life the way he had to. It was a love thing. He wasn’t trying to be mean. But it was hard for him to understand my “mother’s heart” and that the thought of my baby being cold or sad or going hungry for even just one minute was hard for me. Okay well maybe I wasn’t that bad but  I did want to confront him about that Jack In The Box incident but I didn’t want to betray my son. And I wanted to tell my son that it was his dad who was making me stop sending the care packages but I could not betray his dad.

box open

It seemed as if everytime I turned around that year, I’d see a little boy that reminded me of my son. I missed him so much. But I knew that he wasn’t that little boy anymore. He was all grown up and I needed to let go.

Chad's first day of school

 

I guess I actually was glad that his dad taught him the hard lessons that I couldn’t.

I’ve shared this poem before here but it is one that I wrote right before my first baby bird tumbled out of my nest… This one is for all the moms having to let go this year as their baby birds fly off to school or where ever it might be. I understand and feel for you all. And I am here to tell you that you will survive! My son did! He has his own business and a beautiful family. Letting go isn’t always easy, nor is letting our baby birds fall out of the sky sometimes… but if we let them… experience the highs and the lows… someday they will learn to soar and that is enough hope for me. (This poem is also for the young moms who can’t wait for school to start and need a little reminder…  of just how FAST it all flies by!)

SON

 Seems like only  yesterday I held you in my arms

Oh how you swept me away with all your baby charms.

The days just flew by quickly, soon you began to talk

and then a little later, you began to walk….

“Mommy will you cross me? I want to go and play.”

Oh those words ring sweetly, now seem like yesterday.

The years have swiftly passed,

don’t know where they’ve all gone,

And when you cross the street now,

 you don’t need to call your mom.

It has happened right in front of me, before my very eyes…

packed away, your faded jeans, one of every size…

Teddy bears and old match box cars,

all packed with loving care,

boxes son

baseball cards and folded notes of secrets that you shared.

I sit amongst the boxes recalling our memories all alone

and realize that baby, once in my arms,

 is now fully grown~

boxes

And silently I wonder through a mixture of joy and tears…

Did I truly show how much I loved you

through  those tender years?

Sometimes it’s hard when you’re the mom

to make your child understand

just how VERY  proud she is when he becomes a man!

Diane Reed

1997

teddy in box

(Time flies! The one I wrote this  this poem for now has a family of his own!)

Brenden and Chad Muslemen

Empty Nests… Letting the first one go…


This is the time of year…

empty birds nest

We are trying not to count the days. We know it is coming up. We are trying to be happy. And yet it is extremely hard.

I remember when my son left home. It was his Senior Year. It was a crazy time for us to move and yet it happened. I remember always shaking my head when I’d hear stories of parents uprooting their kids from their last years of High School and yet we found ourselves in that same position. I was not ready. He was not ready. And yet it is a choice I made and will always look back and wonder about. In the end, he moved in with his dad. I am glad because his dad is gone now and it was a great bonding time for them that my son will always cherish. And yet as a mom who was pretty over protective all of his young life, I had to let go, knowing for the most part, that the supervision would not be identical. In fact, it was pretty non existent. I am pretty sure all curfews flew out the window along with my baby bird!

I remember once my son calling me and telling me that one of his dad’s room mate’s had brought home Jack In The Box for everyone but him. I am sure there was food in the house and he was not going to starve and that there may have been a good reason for leaving him out… mainly his attitude which has always been a bit challenging… Smile… But I can’t imagine his father partaking in the food while our son sat watching. Though I “get” that I was not privy to the full picture. As a mother missing her baby you can imagine my heart. So I began sending care packages.

care package

Sure I could have sent money and saved the shipping, but I found joy in choosing his favorite things and “knowing” he’d be fed. I don’t doubt that my ex was supplying the basic needs but not the hugs from his mom and so I sent those packages pretty regularly. Until I was asked not to.

One day I got a phone call asking me to “stop” (sending the packages) by my ex. He said, “Diane, you are not helping.” I will never forget how hard it was. I understood that my son was actually 18 by that time, had a job and was living rent free so just had to pay for his gas and food. My ex had moved out of his parent’s house his senior year, and  I know that he just wanted our son to grow up and learn about life the way he had to. It was a love thing. He wasn’t trying to be mean. But it was hard for him to understand my “mother’s heart” and that the thought of my baby being cold or sad or going hungry for even just one minute was hard for me. Okay well maybe I wasn’t that bad but  I did want to confront him about that Jack In The Box incident but I didn’t want to betray my son. And I wanted to tell my son that it was his dad who was making me stop sending the care packages but I could not betray his dad.

box open

It seemed as if everytime I turned around that year, I’d see a little boy that reminded me of my son. I missed him so much. But I knew that he wasn’t that little boy anymore. He was all grown up and I needed to let go.

Chad's first day of school

 

I guess I actually was glad that his dad taught him the hard lessons that I couldn’t.

I’ve shared this poem before here but it is one that I wrote right before my first baby bird tumbled out of my nest… This one is for all the moms having to let go this year as their baby birds fly off to school or where ever it might be. I understand and feel for you all. And I am here to tell you that you will survive! My son did! He has his own business and a beautiful family. Letting go isn’t always easy, nor is letting our baby birds fall out of the sky sometimes… but if we let them… experience the highs and the lows… someday they will learn to soar and that is enough hope for me. (This poem is also for the young moms who can’t wait for school to start and need a little reminder…  of just how FAST it all flies by!)

SON

 Seems like only  yesterday I held you in my arms

Oh how you swept me away with all your baby charms.

The days just flew by quickly, soon you began to talk

and then a little later, you began to walk….

“Mommy will you cross me? I want to go and play.”

Oh those words ring sweetly, now seem like yesterday.

The years have swiftly passed,

don’t know where they’ve all gone,

And when you cross the street now,

 you don’t need to call your mom.

It has happened right in front of me, before my very eyes…

packed away, your faded jeans, one of every size…

Teddy bears and old match box cars,

all packed with loving care,

boxes son

baseball cards and folded notes of secrets that you shared.

I sit amongst the boxes recalling our memories all alone

and realize that baby, once in my arms,

 is now fully grown~

boxes

And silently I wonder through a mixture of joy and tears…

Did I truly show how much I loved you

through  those tender years?

Sometimes it’s hard when you’re the mom

to make your child understand

just how VERY  proud she is when he becomes a man!

Diane Reed

1997

teddy in box

Transitions


She wakes up to the scent of aftershave

and soft lips beneath a scruffy kiss,

knowing he’ll be gone for a week or so

she steals one more, sure they’ll soon be missed.

kissing illustration

She wanders around the empty rooms

as she put the coffee pot on

memories flood her heart

as she watches the sun slip through the dawn

woman drinking coffee

Nonchalantly she passes a mirror

as she brushes back a wisp of hair…

She shakes her head not recognizing

 the reflection of the woman  there.

older mirror reflection

“How did time slip by so fast?”

She asks the woman inside the glass…

It seems as if in the blink of an eye

the last few years have passed…

reflection in mirror black and white

She sighs as she stops to take the image in

and then quickly looks away

as she brushes another wisp of hair

that has suddenly gone astray.

Diane Reed

2013

Seems Like Only Yesterday…


SON

 

Seems like only  yesterday I held you in my arms

Oh how you swept me away with all your baby charms.

The days just flew by quickly, soon you began to talk

and then a little later, you began to walk….

“Mommy will you cross me? I want to go and play.”

Oh those words ring sweetly, now seem like yesterday.

The years have swiftly passed,

don’t know where they’ve all gone,

And when you cross the street now,

 you don’t need to call your mom.

It has happened right in front of me, before my very eyes…

packed away, your faded jeans, one of every size…

Teddy bears and old match box cars,

all packed with loving care,

baseball cards and folded notes of secrets that you shared.

I sit amongst the boxes recalling our memories all alone

and realize that baby, once in my arms,

 is now fully grown~

And silently I wonder through a mixture of joy and tears…

Did I truly show how much I loved you

through  those tender years?

Sometimes it’s hard when you’re the mom

to make your child understand

just how VERY  proud she is when he becomes a man!

(My son and his beautiful family)

by

Diane Reed

copywrite 1997

Mrs. Anderson


I am in a place in my life right now where I am just plain stuck. I have written about mid life crisis and empty nests until I am blue in the face! I know that I have to get over it. But it is kind of overwhelming when you think back at all the plans you had, all the dreams and the mystery of not knowing what your life held felt kind of like magic. Wondering who you would fall in love with, even how a kiss would feel, never experiencing making love or getting married, giving birth or moving into your own home and where it would be…  It was as if you had this empty book handed to you by God and you could write anything you wanted in it. It was a feeling of possibilities, of dreams come true. And now I sit with many volumes of filled pages. Feeling as if I have experienced it all.

It is overwhelming to think about it. The emtpy books that God has handed to the doctors with great cures and authors with life changing ideas and Oprahs and Presidents of this world who all had that same empty book opportunity and filled it with wonderful accomplishments. It makes me thumb through my own pages and sigh and wonder what I have accomplished. Why my books aren’t filled like that. Or even why I still have not written the book I have been finishing and wanted to write for over two years now.

I am in quite a selfish place right now. Stuff that I have been going through the last few years has sent me in a tail spin that has been hard to recover from.  If you put too much on my plate, I want to run. I don’t make the effort to be a great friend. I don’t normally volunteer or contribute a whole lot in my life right now. But at a weak moment I was asked to be a Team Kid leader. It is a little like a weekly Vacation Bible School. In the beginning the groups weren’t assigned. We all kind of just fell into place and in turn became a TEAM. Hence; the name, Team Kid. But we actually have become a little family.

Slowly we felt our way through the last several weeks, getting to know each other. I have the 4th and 5th graders. I really love that age. I remember that when I was around that age, I had mentors in my life that I remember to this day. Mrs. Anderson taught me about Jesus in such a way that made me listen. She kind of raised up my spiritual awareness a little higher, from being stuck comfortably in my childlike faith and challenged me tolook at it all in a more mature way and encouraged me to apply the stories we learned to my own life. With Mrs. Anderson she stretched us. She pricked our hearts. It wasn’t all about the  paper we got at the end with the cartoon version of the memory verse for the week.  It was different with her. And when I look back, I think that she was about my age now when she taught my 4th grade Sunday School Class. Now that I think think about it… When I said yes I would be a leader, I guess maybe  I wanted to give a little back and perhaps  try to be a Mrs. Anderson to my little team.

The other day, I was so tired, as other leaders were falling out of their commitments I have to admit I was a little  envious. But then one mom after another came up to tell me things that their kids had been saying about me and it surprised me. Maybe I could make a differnce. These little kids were at such a great age. Teetering on innocence still goofy kids and yet so moldable and wise with thoughts and ideas and profound thoughts all of their own. I realized what an awesome responsibility it was. To be able to be a smidigen of a Mrs. Anderson in their lives.

Last  night was Team Kid again. My coworker was late so I had to work past my time. I was running late getting to the church and already tired from an over 8 hour shift and not really looking forward to a late night. When I saw my (little family) kids. They had already gotten my Team Kid bucket and placed it on “our” team’s pew and saved me a seat. One little boy came running up to me and sighed a big sigh and said “Oh Good Coach Diane, you are HERE!”

Okay so how Good is God? I am thinking that I am doing something for these kids…  How silly. They are doing something a thousand times fold more for me! Making me feel that I am important.  And God used them as HIS little messengers to tell me so.

If you are feeling a little blue… doing something for someone else will change that in an instant!

What I have learned in all this? It really is not all about me and I still have pages to fill in that book I was handed years ago. I may not ever be Oprah or maybe not even Mrs. Anderson but I can be someone’s Coach Diane.

Beginning In The Middle


I think that admitting you are middle aged is like turning the light on. Though, recognizing what a full blown mid life crisis is and that we are having one is a little less easy. Sometimes when we are in the dark for so long, we don’t realize that just turning on a light would help us see things a little better. I think that I have been in the dark for a few years now. I would never have suspected that I would be in the throws of the classic symptoms of a mid life crisis and have missed them all together but now as I turn around and look at where I have been recently and what I have done, I am sure or maybe even positive that I have been experiencing just that.

A young girl with a lot of wisdom and research under her belt spoke to me about hormones and the mixture of menopaus and my experience with my now empty nest mixed in with a bit of being stuck in a marriage that seemed to be on a merry go round of excuses and wah lah you have what we define as a mid life crisis. The problem was just how far I took mine.

Stuck in a job that didn’t leave room for a lot of creativity which is what I crave, lost in regret of many areas of my past, guilt about a divorce, anger about a past relationship even  before my marriage that defined much of who I am now, and pieces of my childhood that seemed fragmented into much pain, my current marriage barely had a chance.

Go forward a thousand years and I found myself right in the middle of a profound place of being stuck…. My dad died when I was twenty six. I thought I would never stop grieving over that. I was not ready to lose a parent yet and was devestated. Even today, I can find uncried tears easily when I think of it too hard. Death is difficult at any age, but when it is cut short so early there is something that just never seems right about it. And even though we were divorced, when my first husband died it was all surreal. It didn’t rock my world as I might have thought. It all happened so fast. And I truly think that I am just afraid to go there. To really feel the pain about losing the father of my children, to wonder what if… and the guilt of the divorce. When he told me he was dying, he said something that made me feel that he thought that maybe if we had stayed together, I may have magically been able to stop this from happening… his dying I mean.  I can’t seem to get it out of my head… what he said when he told me he was dying… I said… “I should have stayed with you to nag you about your smoking.” And he said, “I knew you were going to think that.” I didn’t really think that. I just said it, to have something to say in a moment of having nothing. Maybe he thought that. I never knew.

I don’t think that I have dealt with a lot of pain in my life. I think that I have pushed it all away and at times it comes out in anger and in other times bad judgement, as I look for things to numb it. Alcohol and drugs is a temporary fix. I don’t like the way they make me feel after it has all worn off… and so I must go on the journey to find something opposite to numbing the pain. I need to finally deal with the pain and in turn heal the wounds. I have started on this journey and made mistakes along the way… this blog is my way of sharing that journey, my mistakes and in turn, hoping to find some answers for us all.