As the month of August unfolded the reality that my Son heads back to college to start his Sophomore year in 25 days hit me hard. I had that same pit in my stomach as I experienced all of last summer as his Freshman year crept closer with each passing day.
It’s just me and my Son at home, so facing a truly empty nest for the first time in 18 1/2 years was beyond a challenge for me to say the least.
I had my ups and downs over the course of his Freshman year, but by the time he came home for the Summer I felt I had conquered a lot of those feelings.
To feel that sadness in my gut popping up again confirmed that I still have work to do, which I’m quite sure will be the topic of future posts.
My struggles leading up to my Son’s departure for college and during his Freshman year were well documented in multiple posts in “Waking the Walker – a Mother’s quest to survive her Son’s zombie years, aka his teens” and even on this site, so I won’t rehash them here.
If you haven’t already read them, I’ve included links below.
I mention these struggles because it sets up my state of mind this month.
How my thoughts meandered from facing my empty nest again, to where I am in my life, to what comes next, to my age, and the thought that my age, late fifties, has got to be some of the weirdest and toughest times to navigate, next to adolescence and teens of course.
I’m no longer middle-aged, but not quite yet considered a senior citizen, even if AARP is available at 55. Although, some days I do feel like I’m prehistoric, especially at the end of a long workday or week.
With my Son in college, my parenting demands are extremely diminished. As a matter of fact, while my Son is away at college they’re practically non-existent. Which is quite an adjustment after single parenting from day one.
I’m not old enough to retire, but most certainly wish I could.
I’m somewhere “IN-BETWEEN” raising kids and retiring, and not quite sure where I fit in. It’s kind of a time of limbo.
A limbo that will take some adjusting too.
My Son does still need me, at times, so my parenting duties are on again off again. This creates a push and pull scenario with me.
Just when I get in the rhythm of flying solo, my Son is home on break and it’s back to full-time Mom duty.
Particularly in the kitchen. Having to seriously plan dinners for a week after a long break takes some adjusting to.
Then there are the fantasies about retirement that sometimes make the workday seem longer.
Knowing I have a little over 8 years till I can officially retire and get full Social Security can challenge my psyche. It’s like the notion of retirement is taunting me. Closer than it was five years ago, but longer than I wish it was.
The thing with retirement though, it may be too early to start a countdown, but it’s never too early to start planning. This certainly helps push me through every workweek. Realizing there is light at the end of tunnel, even though faint, lightens the load.
I have friends who have retired, as have the majority of my siblings, yet the bulk of my co-workers are just starting families, raising young children or just starting the high school journey. To them the thought of college, empty nesting and retirement hasn’t even crossed their minds.
Not that I don’t have co-workers in a similar place as me. It’s just that we’re out-numbered by the young-ins.
Being somewhere between these worlds is kind of strange at times, and really does make me think about my age.
Something I never really did before. I guess because I was too busy raising my Son and helping with my Mom in her later life to even consider it.
BUT, with my Son turning twenty in December, it finally hit me.
I’m knocking at the door of 60.
Not that 60 is old, my Mom was 94 when she passed, and up until 90 she was doing pretty good. She was very youthful in her thought process, and I feel all her children inherited that.
Age is just a number; it’s your state of mind that impacts how old you actually feel.
That’s probably why I never gave my age a second thought, until now.
Facing the “IN-BETWEEN” years makes my mind wander to the past, thinking about all the life I’ve already lived.
Wonder about the future and the prospect of retirement and how to make it a reality.
I certainly have a real desire to slow down and take a little more time for me, but because I still have the sometime demands of parenting and the full-time demands of work, it’s hard.
Then I look around my house at all the unfinished projects (that accumulated during my Son’s high school marching band days) that I thought I would tackle once my Son was away at school and get mad at myself because I barely tackled anything during his Freshman.
Not because I’m lazy, but because I’m tired during the week, having a thyroid disorder and doing overtime certainly doesn’t help.
Weekends then turn into to playing catch-up.
As I discovered during my Son’s Freshman year, sometimes weekends turn into driving an hour one way to the college because of an issue with my Son. Whether it is moving him to a new dorm because of a rude roommate, or his computer is on the fritz, there goes any free time that could have been for projects at home.
Those “IN-BETWEEN” years rearing their ugly head.
I’m beginning to think though that maybe the “IN-BETWEEN” years are really more like a stepping-stone to retirement.
A time to not only plan financially, but mentally and emotional work on the adjustments needed to go from working full-time, to no-time, or should I say My Time.
Oh how glorious the sound of My Time is, but I know some people have a hard time adjusting when the daily routine of marching off to their job ends.
So it’s crucial to prepare for that change, and this “IN-BETWEEN” time is ideal.
And, I also have to start preparing for the day post college graduation when my Son heads off on his new career venture. This could be even harder than him leaving for college.
So, I guess, instead of being challenged by this “IN-BETWEEN” time, I need to embrace it.
© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.
Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.
Images originally posted in “Waking the Walker” – purchased from 123rf.com
60 – 123rf.com – copyright – miceking