Today is my daughter’s 19th birthday. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I will not see her on her birthday. I’m at work and she is out with her school friends. It’s the new world of being an empty nester. We will go out Saturday when she is home for spring break.
I thought I would write a little post about her and then do the same for my son on his birthday in June(I’m not playing favorites!).
My daughter had a difficult start. She broke her leg when she was a toddler(actually I broke it. It’s a story for another post). She fell out of a toy jeep and knocked a tooth out long before she should be losing teeth, She had a speech issue and had to go to hours of speech therapy to learn to talk. The speech issue meant she started school as a special ed kid and had to work harder on the language parts of school. She was fortunate to be redistricted to a new school after 2nd grade where she started fresh and didn’t have teachers and administrators who would expect less of her because of the special ed/speech therapy thing. I know that most teachers wouldn’t treat her differently, but all it takes is one bad one to make life difficult. The new start was good for her and she did well. She’s always been good academically and then was fortunate to find a good group of friends in middle and high school that helped her in the social part of life. The part I failed at in high school. She’s found a god group of college friends as well and did very well academically her first semester in college. I’m very proud of her.
She was the weird kid who always told me things, even when she had a bad grade in a class. She has the same weird sense of humor as me. She’s probably the only person on the family who actually thinks I’m funny. So far, she seems to still enjoy spending time with me. I’m hoping that won’t change.
It’s been a little sad not spending her birthday with her, but I’m happy about who she has become and the she is enjoying time in the city with her friends.
It has nothing to do with Columbus, though it is fun to celebrate by going out, getting lost, invading someone’s house and declaring it my own I do enjoy that, but that’s not why I’ve loved Columbus Day.
My love of the day came late in life. I didn’t care anything about it until I got a job where Columbus Day is a day off. Even then, it didn’t become one of my favorite days off. It was in October and the weather was cooler, but it couldn’t compete with some of the other days off.
Once I had a kid in early elementary school it became a holiday I spent volunteering at the school. With both of us having full-time jobs, we weren’t able to do much more than chaperone a field trip here and there, so we used Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day as a time to go and volunteer in the classroom. That’s not when t became my favorite holiday. Honestly, there were plenty of times I was annoyed at spending my day off at school.
This is my admission that Columbus Day and Veterans Day became my two of my favorite holidays when the kids got older and they no longer wanted us in the classroom. It is one of the few days off we had where the kids still went to school. I didn’t have to spend my day off entertaining kids I didn’t have to spend my day off watching bad children’s television. I could spend m day off relaxing(assuming my wife didn’t give me jobs to do). We never did anything really fun. I wish we had spent some of the time going out and doing a “date day” but it was nice to have a few hours off.
Now, here I am on my first empty nest Columbus Day. We are both still off. The kids aren’t here. It seems like a normal Columbus Day, but it isn’t. The kids won’t be coming home from school this afternoon. It’s not any different from my standard Friday or Saturday off. We still won’t do anything fun outside of the house. I might do yard work. I might clean a bathroom. I will watch the Braves game this afternoon.
Apparently, the moral of the story is that I am, and always have been, boring.
Today is the day. For the first time since 1996 we will have no kids living at home. We are loading the car this morning and moving our daughter in to her dorm. I’m not sure I’m ready for that drive back in an empty car. I’m hoping I can hold off on the crying until I am safely in the car so I don’t embarrass the rest of the family.
I’ve written a lot about the coming empty nest, so there’s not a whole lot left to say about the empty nest thing. It is time for m to figure out who I am in this phase of life. It’s time for my wife and I to figure out who we are as a couple in this phase of life. It’s time for me to figure out how to fill all of the empty hours that used to be time with my daughter.
I will miss having her at home to tolerate me being weird. I will miss having her at home to watch the dumb comedies with me. I will miss our Survivor nights on Wednesday nights. I will probably even miss the mess she leaves behind in every room she inhabits.
I’m sure it won’t take long for me to get used to the empty nest, but the next few weeks will not be easy.
My daughter left for a two-day college orientation today. We are now two months away from an empty nest. That mean we are two months away from me deciding what I’m going to do with all of my alone time. Some options:
- Do nothing new: Stay at the same job. Arrive home two hours before my wife. Spend those two hours alone watching TV or reading and cooking dinner.
- Look for new career opportunities: I have always been the parent who worked closest to school and home. I’ve been the parent who had a somewhat stable 37.5 hour a week schedule. So, I was always the parent who got the call about a sick kid, stayed home with a sick kid, drove kids to sports and dance, coached, danced, etc. Because of this, I was the parent who didn’t consider certain career opportunities because the commute would hinder my ability to be the above parent. Now that I don’t have those activities and instead have 2 hours home alone, I can consider a longer commute for the right opportunity.
- Keep a short commute and fill the time with non-career opportunities. Take a class. Join a softball team. Volunteer. Walk. The downside – interacting with people I don’t know.
- Write more: Take the opportunity to blog every day. Maybe consider looking at other writing opportunities. Take the extra time to actually think about what I’m writing, edit, reasearch and write good stuff instead of vomiting my thoughts here and posting.
- A mixture: Be open to career opportunities while taking the time to write more, look for classes, sports and volunteer opportunities while taking some days to just be lazy and watch TV.
I have a feeling 1 or 5 will win with 1 happening more often than not.
Today is my daughter’s last day of high school. As of mid-morning, I will no longer have a kid in the public school system. While I am sad that this means that we are only a couple of months away from having neither of our kids living at home, there are many positives to this ending. Here are some things I won’t miss:
The other parents – I have had many issues with the parents of the kids in this class since middle school. It started with parents treating the 8th grade dance like it was prom, moved on to freaking out about 8th grade graduation(what do you mean I can’t bring everyone we’ve ever met to 8th grade graduation?) and finally ended with me leaving the Class of 2018 Facebook group when they all had a meltdown over the color of the gowns the girls will wear at graduation. It’s been really nice not knowing what drama has consumed them lately. I will be glad to never feel like I should know what they are complaining about now, though I am curious to see how they deal with the fact that college will not care.
Waking Up Early – Well, I will still wake up early. That’s just who I am. I guess I should have said “not being responsible for anyone but myself in the mornings.” I can now just wake up, stumble down to my coffee and paper and only worry about making sure I leave the house on time. I will still be up early, but it will be a more relaxed early.
Caring About Snow Day Decisions – It will no longer matter to me if schools are open are closed on a snow day. I can now move on to only caring about if the library is open are closed on a snow day. I won’t care how the snow day affects the rest of the school calendar. I might still look at all the parents complaining on Facebook just for fun, but I won’t have a dog in the fight.
The School Calendar – Our plans are no longer tied in to the school calendar. We have the option of taking a trip to Florida in January while the kids are on break from college. We can do family vacations in late May before everyone else is out of school. We can do long weekends alone at random times of the year without worrying about if we should leave the kids home alone. I won’t have to compete with all of the other summer leave requests unless it is for an event over which I have no control.
So, while I will be sad when my daughter leaves for college, there are plenty of positives. I will try to focus on those and not the rest.
It’s all over the news and a big story on The Today Show today – investors demanding Apple do something to combat children’s smartphone addiction. I do agree that addiction to electronics is a thing. I do agree that children being addicted early is a problem. I don’t agree with the idea that we should blame the company. The company created a product. The company’s job is to make that product a product that people want to purchase. They’ve done their job. Our job as parents is to make the decision regarding what products we purchase for our children. Our job as parents is to determine how much time they are allowed to use said products. Sure, we can say that maybe they should curtail advertising in a way that targets children. We can’t hold them responsible for our parenting choices. Here are some examples of how we as parents have provided the “drug” to our children. Just replace the device with the word drugs:
“But, mom, all my friends have drugs! I want drugs too!”
“Dad has work to do. Take these drugs and go to another room so I can concentrate”
“Dad needs to rest. How about instead of playing with you, I give you drugs to keep you occupied while I nap.”
“Yes, it’s OK to bring your drugs to the dinner table Daddy wants to do his drugs during dinner as well”
We made the decision to buy our children an addictive item. We have no one to blame but ourselves.
Here we are, early January 2018. Christmas is over. Back to the real world. After weeks of Christmas lights, Christmas trees, and anticipation. After a 10 day trip back home to spend the holidays with family. We are back to the real world. Back to school. Back to work. Waking up to an alarm. Waking up before sunrise. My son is back at his house near school. We are inching closer to the days when he no longer spends the entire break with us. We are inching closer to our youngest going away to college. There was another college acceptance letter waiting in the mail when we got home from the trip. A dark and depressing mood to go along with the dark and depressing winter.
On the bright side – there was still some light in the sky when I got home from work last night and each night there will be a little more light.
Maybe tomorrow’s post will be brighter. Maybe not. I’m leaning toward writing about how I’ve always dreamed of running away. Maybe I can at least make it funny.
I started to write something this morning and then didn’t. I started to write something after church, but didn’t. I’m now avoiding finishing the yard work. It is a good incentive to write. Since it is Father’s Day, I guess I should write about that.
I have now been a dad longer than I had a dad. That seems weird. I had a dad for 18 years. It’s now been 30 years since he died. I won’t spend a lot of time dwelling on that. I will, instead, write about being a dad.
I’ve written a lot about my job both in random posts and in my series of posts about being a jailbrarian. My most important job has nothing to do with a library. When I retire in 8 years I will no longer be a librarian. A few years after that the library world won’t even remember my name. My most important job is being a dad. Being a dad is a lifelong commitment. Being a dad means being remembered, hopefully in a good way. I may be an average, forgettable librarian, but I like to think I have been and continue to be an above average dad.
I’ve done my best to always be there for my kids. I’ve coached baseball and basketball. I’ve spent hours at a dance studio. I even learned to dance and then danced in front of hundreds of people at my daughter’s dance recital. I’ve chaperoned field trips, volunteered in the classroom and hosted numerous play dates. I’m not a perfect dad. I’ve been impatient and angry with my kids. There are times when I was happy to send them off to spend time with their grandparents so I could get a break. I do think, though, that even in the worst of times my kids knew that I loved them.
My kids are now 21 and 17. Both are very good students. Both decided to get a job to earn their own money while in high school. Both have spent time on church mission trips helping others. If people judge me based on how my kids turned out, I think I will look pretty good(with the exception of passing a weird sense of humor on to my daughter).
I may not be remembered for anything else in my life, but if I’m only remembered for being the best dad possible, I can live with that.
I knew it was coming soon. My son rented a house with friends this year so he was officially completely moved out last July. He leaves on Sunday for New York for five weeks for his summer internship. Today was my daughter’s last day of her junior year of high school. She got her driver’s license last week. I knew I was a year away from an empty nest. Today, my daughter starts a part-time job. She just headed out for her training shift. That means I will start to get a taste of the empty nest soon.
The big change for me will be the first couple of hours after I arrive home from work. I typically arrive home by around 5:30. My wife typically gets home around 7:30. For a while, some of that time was filled with trips to the dance studio. The last couple of years it has meant cooking dinner and watching TV with my daughter. Monday nights we watch John Oliver(recorded from Sunday). Other nights we might watch other random shows that we have recorded over the past weeks. The one standard is that we watch Jeopardy at 7. My wife doesn’t understand why we like the show so much. I’m surprised my daughter likes it. We watch, comment on the contestants and yell out our answers(not in the form of a question). With her at work several nights a week, I will have to watch Jeopardy alone. I’ve done it before. It’s just not as fun when no one else sees how smart(or dumb) you are.
It sounds small, but it is a harbinger of things to come. Today it is a part-time job. Soon it will be college. Soon the nest will actually be empty and I will have many hours home alone. I guess I will be reading a lot more books soon. Who am I kidding? I will probably spend the alone time watching TV shows my wife won’t watch and posting stupid stuff on Facebook.
I am watching the news and once again they were discussing this story http://www.wbaltv.com/news/20124542/detail.html about three kids who were arrested for stealing. The kids were stealing several items from a neighbor’s garage and were handcuffed and taken to juvenile detention when caught. The parents are outraged that their kids were treated this way. I don’t understand this outrage. The kids committed a crime. When you commit a crime, you go to jail. That’s the way life works. It’s better the kids learn this now and maybe get scared away from doing it again rather than getting away with it and deciding to do it again. If these were my kids I would want them to be handcuffed and taken to jail. I want them to see what happens when you break the law. It’s better to try to scare this behavior out of them early rather than wait until later when the crimes have escalated into something more serious. These parents need to wake up and see this was a good thing instead of sending their kids the message that the police are in the wrong here instead of them.