I know, that’s a strange title for my first blog post. Maybe it’s too long. Oh well. Here it goes….
My name is Kathy Rodriguez. I am 52 years old this year. I’ve been married for 31 wonderful years and have twins that are now 21-year-old men. Awk! 21! This is year three of our empty nest. It has taken me this long to finally get up the courage and put myself out there. This is so far out of my comfort zone, but that is why I am doing this blog. I am hoping that by sharing my story, my adventures, my journey that others will find help or comfort in what I have to say.
What was my life like before my empty nest? I was a stay-at-home mom. I was that mom that you loved or you hated. I volunteered for everything. I coordinated a lot of events. I was active in our son’s school and extra-curricular events (band and robotics in our case). Later, I worked part-time as a swim instructor and administrative assistant at my local health club, Stillaguamish Athletic Club. I could do my job around our boy’s schedules and I am blessed to have had that option. Life was busy.
Why the history? To let you know that going from an all-in parent to an empty nest was a HUGE change. We don’t have other children. Just our twins. Life for us was no kids and then TWINS! Life was busy busy busy and then it wasn’t.
How did I survive that first month as an empty nest mom? As I look back on that first month I realized several things. I wouldn’t have made it without goals, cleaning and Ally McBeal.
Goals. I will let you know that I am a planner, an organizer. The scientist in me looks at life differently than other people. I can also hyper-focus when I set my mind on a task. Naturally, that is how I approached my first month of being an empty nest mom. Was everything scheduled? No, but I set goals. One thing I wanted to accomplish each week at a minimum. Don’t make them huge goals, no “I want to loose 40 pounds” kind of goals. Make them ones you can accomplish in the mist of figuring out that new life you are going to embrace. Don’t make a lot of goals either. You don’t want to loose so much focus that you get nothing done because you are overwhelmed. That is why I chose four goals.
Cleaning. Goal #1. I will let you know that our sons are attending Washington State University (5 ½ hour car drive away) and Johns Hopkins (5 ½ hour plane ride away). Because they are twins and not at the same college, my husband and I had to split parent duties. I drove and moved in our son to WSU and my husband drove across country with our other son and moved him into JHU.
I literally came home after drop off to no one. Just the dog and me. Completely empty house. For two weeks! When I am stressed, I clean. This was already my first goal anyway, but adding the stress and the quiet and I became a woman on a mission. I cleaned the house from top to bottom. Really cleaned it.
The next week I tackled the refrigerators, freezers and pantries. I donated a lot of food that I did not want in my house. It was scary looking back at how much crap was there because I had twin boys in the house! Cleaning all this out prepared me for my next goal.
Eating Healthier. Goal #2. Getting rid of the crap and starting fresh was goal number two. I am realllllly lucky because I work with terrific women who always encourage and support me. When I needed some guidance I went to them. If you are looking to change this part of your life at any point, be realistic and also get someone to help you. You cannot do it alone and make it stick. I will share some of the things I have done to help me change this part of my life.
It does help that I love to cook. It’s part of my love-language as my brother would tell me. Was I perfect? No. Was it easy? No. Like I said, it was a goal I set. A long-term goal. Three years later and I still try to eat and cook healthier. Except for caramels, they are my kryptonite. I look forward to sharing cooking adventures with you!
Try Something New. Goal #3. Yes, I work at a health club. Yes, I am a swimmer. I have been for 46 years. But yoga? Yoga on a lake on a paddleboard? Yikes!
Every once in a while I would do yoga at the gym. I started after a broken leg (that’s another blog story in the future). The thing is, I wasn’t consistent. I was busy. Twins. Husband. Life. I fit it in when I could, but I needed something new just for me.
I chose to do paddleboard yoga. Getting up the courage to go out on that board allowed me to start focusing on me, Kathy. Not the mom, daughter, sister, wife and friend I am, but ME. I am telling you now, find that one new thing to try in that first month. Do it with a friend that is in the same boat as you. It may change your life. It may save your life as an empty nest mom. I know it saved mine. It gave me a new focus.
Thanks Cheryl Guthrie for braving it with me! Besos y Abrazos Georgina at Azul SUP & Yoga for showing me that I can do anything!
I look forward to sharing that new passion with you!
Ally McBeal. I know I am dating myself when I use a reference to Ally McBeal. I loved that show! Quirky.
That was the me I always hid behind the professional working woman before kids, the stay-at-home volunteer mom I was with them at home and that I still hide today. Sometimes she comes out to play. Most people don’t see that part of me. That’s the me that I am learning to be better at sharing with others.
Ally McBeal episodes can make me think, they can make me laugh and they can make me cry. I love them. During that first month as an empty nest mom, I watched them again. On those afternoons that I was alone in the house, the evenings when my husband traveled for work. I didn’t watch them in order. I did something different for myself and watched them for what I needed that day. A cry. A laugh. A reminder.
Surviving. Goal #4. You will survive your first month as an empty nest mom. Don’t let it get a jump on you though. Life is especially busy leading up to that first day without them in the house. Make a little plan now. Be open to change. You have a new life and you can hide under a blanket or you can choose to look for the new possibilities and embrace them.
My first month wasn’t perfect. I won’t tell you it was easy, because it damn well wasn’t. But it was easier with a plan. So, plan yours. Do it for you. Find the new you. Set new goals for yourself. That is how I am surviving this new journey. I am a work in progress and I will be sharing my journey with you. How I got here, where I am going and my life in the between. Always remember that your empty nest is not empty of possibilities!