On Becoming an Empty Nester Part 3: Taking Bob Marley’s Advice

three little birds

Rise up this mornin’
Smiled with the risin’ sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying’, (this is my message to you)
Singing’ don’t worry ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
– Bob Marley, 1977

 

Image From PopRocks Design on Etsy

I have started and scrapped several drafts of my latest “Empty Nesters” post. I think because it’s been a variety of emotions and a flurry of activity over the past few weeks, it’s been hard for me to pinpoint the topic I want to discuss. One article I wrote took on a very defensive tone, explaining why I didn’t think it was fair to compare the college living experience from the 80’s-90’s to the college living experience that today’s young adults have. Both of my daughters are living in off-campus student housing that is frankly, very nice. The apartments are newer, fully furnished apartments and this rubs a lot of Gen Xer’s the wrong way. “I never lived in anything that nice until I was married.” Yeah, that was my experience as well, but it doesn’t mean that the choices I am now making collaboratively with my daughters are wrong. It just means times have changed, there are different options available, and how (and why) I’m able to help my kids isn’t really anyone’s business, so no need for me to be defensive.

I wrote one post that was all about my quiet house. How I come home from work and it looks exactly like it did when I left that morning. There are no dirty socks on the couch, no empty drinks on the coffee table, no dirty dishes in the sink, the TV isn’t on, and no one is asking me if I’m cooking or what’s for dinner. I pull into a driveway and don’t have to worry about where to park to avoid shuffling the cars at 7:00 a.m.  I can park wherever I want. When I open the door and step into my quiet, clean house the only greeting is from my dog, who goes berserk because he’s been alone for a few hours (which seems like a lifetime to him) and he’s super happy I’m there because when I’m around, there’s treats involved. When I open the fridge and we’re out of milk, there’s no one to blame (well, except my husband), and if the towels are still in the washing machine smelling of mildew, I can’t yell at anyone but myself (mainly because my husband doesn’t know where the laundry room is). The tone of that post sounded sad. I didn’t like it.

dirty dishes

Image Source: Walking The Grey Line

The third post didn’t really have any direction. It wandered around a rather vague topic of how weird it feels to have an empty house and not being sure what it is that I’m supposed to be doing. Do I continue my weekend chores, or should I be footloose and fancy free? When I come home from work, do I have to prepare a meal, or can I just nibble on a baguette and sip some wine? Are there new rules for me? I don’t think I’m lonely or sad, but I feel confused… Yeah, that post was immediately deleted after the first paragraph because it made no sense and I sounded like I was a little on the crazy side. I chalk this up to writing late at night.

Practical me decided I should blog about the adjustments and other things future empty-nesters should know about: “How to Shop For Two Instead of a Family;” “Downsizing My Cooking: An Experiment in Fractions;” “Is It OK To Run The Dishwasher Only Half-Full and Other Housekeeping Dilemmas.” Yawn. None of those sounded worthy of a read. And I sort of hated myself for coming up with them. Who do I think I am? The Martha Stewart of Empty Nesters?

So today I sit down, fingers on the keyboard, and realize that there isn’t one empty nest feeling that can be defined or described. There isn’t one action to take, or routine to change. There is no wrong way or right way to set your kids free. It’s not really a life-altering moment like having a baby is; our world hasn’t turned upside down. Our schedules haven’t changed, I still get up and go to work, and come home each day. I still go grocery shopping and run errands and do chores on the weekends. And I still parent; it’s just a different kind of parenting.

Do I have any advice to offer my friends when they enter this phase of their lives? Not really, nothing profound. Just go with the flow. Do what feels right. Accept change. Know there is no right or wrong way to do this. Don’t try to control anything. Don’t worry about a thing. Know that everything is gonna be alright.

Don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singing’ don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Rise up this mornin’
Smiled with the risin’ sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying’, (this is my message to you)
Singing’ don’t worry ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singing’ don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Rise up this mornin’
Smiled with the risin’ sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Sayin’, this is my message to you
Singin’ don’t worry about a thing, worry about a thing, oh
Every little thing gonna be alright, don’t worry
Singin’ don’t worry about a thing, I won’t worry
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singin’ don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright,
I won’t worry
Singin’, don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singin’ don’t worry about a thing, oh no
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright

Songwriters: Bob Marley
Three Little Birds lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Artist: Bob Marley
Album: Exodus
Released: 1977
Genre: Reggae

 

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Categories: Uncategorized

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