Facing the “IN-BETWEEN” Years

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.

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/loosening-the-tether/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/07/08/season-of-transition/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/home-for-dinner/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/08/31/but-really-what-are-you-feeling/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/09/30/adjusting-to-my-new-norm/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/12/30/every-new-beginning-comes-from-some-other-beginnings-end-seneca/

https://wakingthewoman.com/2019/04/28/confused-self-image/

I mention these struggles because it sets up my state of mind this month.

AND

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.

AND

I’m not old enough to retire, but most certainly wish I could. 

BASICALLY

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.

WHY?

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.

AND

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

BUT

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

Clearing Old Energy

This June marks forty years since my high school graduation. In all honesty had a few of my classmates not decided to arrange a forty year class reunion I probably would not have given it another thought

Let’s face it, what with all the hormonal changes going on in a teenagers body, and the fact that teens are becoming more self-aware, high school has to rank high in the “most challenging times” of a person’s life. Even for the popular, over-achieving set.

I know for me it most certainly was.

As a transfer from a small, private Catholic school the transition to public school in ninth grade was not very easy. I was quite comfortable with my tight-knit small group, but once I got into the large machine that was public school all my insecurities resurfaced.

Being new we all stood out, which is most definitely something you don’t want when dealing with a lack of self-confidence and being self-conscious of everything about yourself.

I felt like a square peck in a round hole. If not for my Catholic school buddies and a few new friends I made, I’m not sure I would have made it through not just ninth grade, but all of high school.

As my confidence grew and I got more involved in clubs and got to know more people each year got a little better. Not that there weren’t those who still triggered my insecurities. The key was to avoid them to the best of my abilities.

By the time graduation day arrived I was completely indoctrinated into public school. BUT, that didn’t mean I wasn’t thrilled to be done with all of it and moving on to a new adventure in college.

It was at this point, all of our lives went in different paths, and the clearing of the old began. We just didn’t realize it.

Over forty years life levels the playing field. 

In that time a lot of life can be lived – college, careers, career changes, job loss, – marriage, kids, divorce – putting kids through college, kids getting married, grandchildren – caring for parents, loss of parents or other loved ones – retirement dreaming, or even retired already, if you’re lucky.

We are not who we were, we are who we are, forty years post graduation.

Life most certainly helps to mold and shape an individual and by the time you’re in your fifties what happened in your teen’s pales in comparison to the real world.

In other words, you’ve “GROWN UP.”

I know for myself becoming a Mom, and loosing my Son’s father three years later more than impacted who I am today.

The insecure, self-conscious teenager doesn’t exist any more. 

Not that I don’t have days when I’m feeling less than stellar and experience self-doubt, but I don’t have time to linger on that, the demands of the real world see to that.

Especially during my Son’s child rearing years. His needs preceded any feelings of inadequacy I may have experienced.

So, with all this in mind I was more than excited to see old classmates. I knew for me it would be the perfect time to clear out the old, sometimes negative energy surrounding high school memories and usher in new, positive energy for the future.

As I walked into the reunion, it was evident that we were all in this same place. The air was filled with positive energy and a spirit of grand camaraderie. It was non-stop chatter and bouncing around trying to talk with everyone that was there.

Over the following week I pondered the nights events. We may have been brought together initially in high school, but now we were all united by our own journeys since high school.

It made me realize how important it is to look back in order to move forward. If we don’t own the good and the bad that we’ve experienced in our lives sojourn, we can never be whole

BUT, once you’ve done so, let go of the negative, so there’s more room for the positive to grow.

So as I work my way through my present stage of re-discovery, I can honestly say I crossed a major threshold by facing the challenges of my high school days without flinching. Not sure I could have done that twenty or twenty-five years ago.

In addition, I’m grateful for those experiences. Without them I would not be who I am today.

AND, I’m grateful for all those classmates who had my back. You know who you are. Much love now and always!

Having the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and actually make new friends of classmates I didn’t really know that well is a beautiful thing.

Or as the commercial says “Priceless.”

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.