Monday, September 19, 2011

School Friends

If you are like me, you don’t know much about your mother’s school friends. I do know my mother’s graduating class continued to have reunions even when there was just a few of them left.
Grace and Mary (So glamorous!) with dates--eighth grade
It feels a little sad to me that I knew so little of what her school life was like. Obviously it was filled with good friends who understood how important the friendships we make in school really are. But, I can’t name even one friend my mother had in high school. (My sister probably can. She never forgets stuff like that.) Mom wasn't close to any of them on a routine basis as we were growing up. (Maybe she was and I just wasn’t paying attention.) She had lots of friends, very close friends that she talked with often and even went on trips with after my father died but I think they were friend she made as an adult. Every once in a while she would point out a house in our small town and say, that’s where so and so lived when we were in school. I remember the specific house she pointed at when she turned to me and said, “That's where my friend Betty told me about the facts of life.” (A school friend told her, not her mother.)
Frankly, it is hard to picture my mother ever being a school girl. To me and my five siblings, she was just mom and she wasn’t supposed to be having fun. She had work to do, our meals to cook, clothes to wash and iron; plus, she was a minister’s wife and that was another full-time job. She was pretty--I know that now, but then, she was motherly and certainly not school-girlish.
So I am posting this for my daughter, Sam. It is a picture of my friend Mary and I in the eighth grade, all dressed up for a church party. Please note that we had dates. Yes, dates in the eighth grade. And, believe it or not, we thought we were just as cool then, as my daughter thought she was at that age. No one is really very cool at that age, but they think they are.
Mary’s Story
Mary and I at . . . what else? A Ringo Starr Concert in 2010

Our family moved away when I started 10th grade and I lost touch with Mary; although, we had been good friends throughout elementary school. About 15 years ago, by coincidence, Mary’s husband came to work at the hospital where I was working. The rest is history. We found each other after all those years. Mary lives about an hour from me now so we still don’t get to see each other as often as we'd like. A few weeks ago, my husband and I had dinner with Mary and her husband. Mary made this comment that got me to thinking about school chums:

“The people you knew so long ago from school are more like family than friends.”
In this life, we are fortunate if we have good friends when we are young and, even more blessed, as I have been, when a few of them stay in our lives and end up feeling more like family. I have another childhood friend, Noni that also feels like a sister to me.
Sam moved 2,000 miles away from us to experience life on her own. Well, almost on her own; she went with a good friend from high school, Jen. And, I am happy for her that she has a close friend to be with. I am sure too, that she would not find it easy to picture me as a school girl. But I was once, as happy-go-lucky and hopeful about life as she was at that age. And, we had just as much fun too, even without cell phones or Facebook.
I want to hear your stories about childhood friends. (I have more friend stories myself.) You can send your stories to me at and include a .jpg photo/s and I’ll post them. Or, you can even leave your school friend story in the Comments. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The First Thing An Empty Nester Does: Take a Class on How to Write a Blog

This is a blog I started as an assignment in a class I am taking on how to write a blog because that is exactly the kind of thing an empty nester does, right? Attend classes at the community college, take up knitting, write a blog? 

I am not really a new empty nester—my daughter graduated from college in 2009, and she didn’t move home even in the summers after she left for college in 2005. I have never had to wonder about what to do with my time, with or without a child at home. In 2008, I went back to school and acquired another graduate degree; this one in fine arts, in poetry to be specific. I have always worked full-time outside the home and continue to do so, although I have made some changes (one of the advantages to being an empty nester) in my work situation lately to have more time to follow my passion which is writing.

Being an empty nester is not just about finding ways to keep busy now that your daughter or daughters, son or sons don’t need you any more. It is about a time in your life when things can turn upside down. . . for the better and at times, for the not so better. It can be a time in which you experience immense new freedom or even dire sadness. One thing is certain, to quote Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. Instead, we are in a strange new place of significantly reduced responsibilities for the care of our children which is a kind of new-found freedom, with more time to pursue creative passions or to explore new places, both within ourselves and in the outside world; though, mark my word, there is sometimes, still a lot of care to be given to young adult off-spring.

Some Interesting Facts About Empty Nesters

Here are some interesting facts I found on a website about being an empty nester (You can read the full article here.)

“Since 1996, Del Webb has conducted an annual survey of the Baby Boom Generation, comprised of Americans born between the years 1946 and 1960. Baby Boomers throughout the United States this year were polled on their feelings about becoming Empty Nesters and its impact on their retirement plans. The Baby Boomer Survey, conducted in April and May 2004, reveals Boomers are embracing the idea of Empty Nesting, the stage in life when children move out of their parent's home for good. While Boomers have an array of emotions about the situation, most look forward to getting back to what they were always accused of being - the "me generation." Below is a summary of the main points the survey uncovered:. . .

§   26 percent of respondents say they will feel like newlyweds when their kids are gone and even more (34 percent) say they will feel closer to their spouse without the children around.
§   Fifty-eight percent say they are or were emotionally ready to get the kids out of the house. Males (70 percent) are significantly more likely to be emotionally prepared than females (55 percent.)
§   The older the Boomers become the more ready they are to clear the Nest. In fact 71 percent of the Boomers between 53-58 years old are emotionally ready to be Empty Nesters.
§   Boomers have mixed feelings about becoming Empty Nesters. While a large percentage is neutral about the emotional impact, Boomers do feel an increase in freedom to be themselves with Empty Nesting. . ."

Are you ready?  Will you and your spouse feel like newlyweds?  Do you have mixed feeling about this stage in your life?  We can't always answer those questions easily. So, this is what I want my blog to be: a gathering place for kindred hens (or roosters) whose chicks have fledged . . . a place where I can share my stories and tell some of your stories, with your permission, of course. I want this to a place where we can walk along together and see what the empty nest looks like turned upside down. I hope you will make comments, share what is going on in your own empty nest. I’d love to hear from you.