Wednesday, April 16, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Remodeling the empty nest

By
From page HS5 | September 27, 2013 | Leave Comment

I knew this was coming. Though sending my youngest daughter to college was always part of the plan, I chose to ignore it.

“Mom, did you fill out those college forms?”

“What college forms? You’re not going to college.”

As usual, she did as she pleased.

Reality knocked me in the knees last week as I helped Marissa move into her dorm at Stanford University — 2,864 miles away from home in Orlando.

For temporary pain relief, I got invested in her dorm décor. In a final fit of mothering, I filled carts at Bed Bath & Beyond and Target with bed-bug proof mattress protectors, x-long twin sheets, durable towels and laundry soap.

On the plane home, reality hit: While I created her new nest, mine emptied.

The fact that I had done this once before, two years ago when my oldest went to college — 1,158 miles away — didn’t pull any force from the blow.

Both send offs felt like an amputation. Only last time, I still had one chick in the nest.

“The definition of grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern or behavior,” said Russell Friedman, co-author of “The Grief Recovery Handbook” and “Moving On,” and partner at the Grief Recovery Institute, in Sherman Oaks.

“Sheesh! I could be your poster child!” I said.

This man didn’t know my life, but if he did ….

“An empty nest is that and more,” he said. “When a child leaves home, all sorts of conflicting feelings come up.”

“No kidding,” I said. “I just walked into her old room and got a lump in my throat. At the grocery store, my eyes welled as I reached for the kind of milk she likes then realized I didn’t need to buy it.”

“The freedom from some of the chores and burdens of parenthood runs head-long into the absence of your children who are out creating their own lives and eventually their own homes.”

“Waaaaaaaaah!!”

“It forces you to ask, ‘Who am I now?’”

“I didn’t know who I was before!”

He paused, and likely thought what I thought:  Man do I have work to do.

Ironically, and here’s the good part, the antidote for the hollow feeling of an empty nest, experts say, is exactly what I always recommend: Remodel!

Only this time, the remodeling is of your heart, your head and, to a lesser degree, your home, said Friedman.

Marie Dubuque, a life coach in St. Louis and an empty nester as of last month, could relate to my sad state but she’s more together.

“When I get sad, I think, ‘What’s the alternative? That they stay home? I raised them for this, to go and become independent. We accomplished that.’”

Since dropping her son off at college, “Our home is becoming less about kids and more about being a sanctuary,” she said. “Instead of utter chaos a lot of the time, it has become a refuge.”

To adapt to the new family dynamic, she redecorated her loft, once a kid zone filled with video games. “When you have a teenage boy, you have electronics everywhere,” she said. She converted the space into a “relaxing retreat with an oriental feel,” including a small fountain.

“When I sit there and read, I think, ‘This is the beginning of my new life.’”

Friedman applauds that move, and says that’s the work of the empty nester.

“I can’t tell you how to create a space, or recreate a space, that represents you now,” he said, as yet another of my interviews turns into a therapy session. “That’s a solo effort, but that’s your new job.”

When kids leave home, here are some ways experts say empty nesters can adapt:

  • Change up the décor.  If you keep everything like it is, as a shrine to your children, it’s hard to move on and start the next phase of life, said Chicago psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo.
  • Start with some of the trophies and artwork. Take them down “so that everywhere you look isn’t about kids,” Dubuque said. Gradually, make it an adult home. “Then, when you look around, you don’t see a place where the kids once were. Instead, you see a new beginning.” 
  • Stop short of their room. As Dubuque did with her son, I have assured my daughters that wherever I live, they will always have a bedroom. “Our kids aren’t moving away. They’ll be home for holidays and summer. Having their safe haven at home is important for them.” They’re going through a big change, too. Whether they admit it, having their room to go home to is a comfort.
  • Don’t toss their stuff without them. Though cleaning out their room once they’re out is tempting, tread lightly. Purging a lot of their things without them can feel like a violation, said Lombardo. “Keep in mind their feelings.”
  • Ask, who you are now? Then think about how your home can reflect that. Maybe the playroom becomes an art studio, gym or office. Friedman recalls the time he came home from college to find his mother had remodeled the house to reflect her new life. “I had a lot of feelings about that,” he said. But looking back years later he understands and appreciates that his mom expressed her freedom to make it her own space.
  • Not all parents feel sad. Others are saying woo-hoo! said Lombardo. “I get to focus on me now and can travel and take classes.” Either way, she said, “The goal is to write the next chapter.”

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

.

News

EDH Fire Dept. annexing Latrobe

By Noel Stack | From Page: A1, 7 Comments

 
Motorcycle fatality in Greenwood

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

 
Greenwood School being restored

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Cal Fire increasing staffing, hiring

By Cal Fire | From Page: B1

 
EID restricts watering days

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A1, 10 Comments

Lover’s Leap fall injures man

By Tahoe Tribune | From Page: A1

 
Tea Party meeting April 17

By Tea Party Patriots Of El Dorado Hills | From Page: A3, 45 Comments

 
Town Hall Meeting on Underage Drinking May 1

By El Dorado Hills Community Vision Coalition | From Page: A6

Floating body not a body

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A7

 
Old mill a goner

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A11, 11 Comments | Gallery

.

Letters

A great big thanks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Murder? Suicide?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 6 Comments

‘Drive Clean’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

 
Middle class getting poorer?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 45 Comments

Real estate lies

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 7 Comments

 
.

Sports

Outside with Charlie: Switch gear

By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A8

 
Ponderosa volleyball is a family affair

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Aussie team makes visit

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A8

 
Griz have challenging day

By Mike Bush | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Roundup: April 15, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
.

Prospecting

At a glance: Take aim on fun

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

 
Men to walk a mile in her shoes

By Center For Violence-Free Relationships | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Runners stampede for Sugarloaf scholarships

By El Dorado County Office of Education | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Team works to fight disease

By Placerville Kiwanis | From Page: B3

 
COOL School is accepting applications

By Rescue Union | From Page: B4

Band of Miwoks fund mission

By Shingle Springs Band Of Miwok Indians | From Page: B12

 
.

Essentials

Crime Log: March 25-27

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
Weather stats 4-15-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

.

Obituaries

Ronald Russell Rohrer

By Contributor | From Page: A2, 2 Comments

 
Numa Edward “Ed” Roberts

By Contributor | From Page: A2

.

Real Estate

.

Comics

Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A10

 
Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A10

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A10

 
Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Horoscope, Thursday, April 17, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A10

 
Horoscope, Wednesday, April 16, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A10

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A10

 
Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A10

 
Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A10