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I was invited to a Shabbos party at my pre-school grandson’s school, where he was chosen to be the Shabbos Abba. On Friday morning, I dropped everything and drove over to his classroom, met my DIL there and we observed my grandson having this special party with his friends — with grape-juice, challah and other goodies.
It was at this party that I realized something about myself that I hadn’t known before. Something that made me feel more grown up than I’ve felt in years. More mature, evolved and settled.
I may have thought about it briefly over the past years, but hadn’t articulated it clearly in my mind. Maybe I was in denial. Maybe I was too embarrassed to admit it. Maybe I never even thought too much about it.
What was this feeling?
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT….DONE!
Whew. There. I admitted it: Having the sensation that it is okay to have done the Mommy thing years ago, and moved on.
As I viewed the classroom with its bulletin boards, various stations, book shelves, colorful cubblies, circle time rugs, toys and art and musical instruments, I felt kind of detached. Yes, it was all very sweet and nice but I zoomed right in to view my own grandson (who of course was the most adorable), snapped a few pictures, felt the pride and enjoyed. He, and my role as Grandma were key here. Nothing else.
There was none of the nostalgia for the good-ol’-days as a Mommy.
I felt completely comfortable in my role as middle-aged grandmother. Call me old. Call me complacent. Call me whatever you want to call me. But I really was not in the least bit sad about being older than every other person in the room – even the teachers.
BEING OLD IS GREAT
It wasn’t easy to come to that conclusion. I’ve been so busy the past few years writing and reading about the empty nest syndrome with its intermittent loneliness, alleged boredom, painful nostalgia, ubiquitous regret and all the other supposed symptoms ot the midlife crisis or period. It’s been a given that we midlifers are forever pining for the good-ol’ days of carpools, soccer practice, PTA meetings, and child bearing years.
To an extent we are. We miss the past, and want the feeling of watching our little ones grow and develop. The feeling of the unknown, how it’s all going to turn out is kind of exciting and non-threatening. And when that is all over, it feels as if we have nowhere to go now. Nothing to look forward to. Nothing to plant and grow anymore. We feel as if our work is done.
But me, I’ve reached a point where I no longer miss those days. I’m seriously grateful for being at the stage that I am.
I don’t want to go back to those early parenting days anymore. No way.
Do I have the feeling of life having passed me by and that the good times are over? Nah.
I remember the good times and fun times of the cute kids and watching them grow, develop and learn alongside their peers and cousins, but I do not miss them. That’s because I also remember the difficult times.
The calls from the teachers that my kid has to sit detention. The endless carpools, the hours with them doing homework, the arguments and debates with those sons who were not as docile (euphemism here. Use your imagination, okay?) as the others and whatever angst raising children entails.
All that is over. No more having to get babysitters. No more dealing with discipline and rude behavior (yes, kids were sometimes disrespectul).
Bottom line, knowing that our children have turned out really well is a comfort to me. We’ve done our work as parents, and now we get to be a couple. My husband and I have done a great job, and now it’s time to sit back and enjoy our own stage.
The kindergarten visit taught me the lesson of being happy with the stage that I’m in.
I had my lesson about the true reality of Empty Nest Syndrome, and it was time to go home to my own peace and quiet. How wonderful is that?
How do *you* feel about being in the Empty Nest Club? Do you pine for the good ol’ days? Do colorful kindergartens make you wax nostalgic?
(Photo credits: Property of M. Hendeles and Image credits Publicdomainpics.net)
Tags: aging, been there and done that, empty nest syndrome, grandmothers, gratitude, kindergarten, midlife challenges, nostalgic parents, Shabbos party