Saturday, 27 June 2015

making midlife the best of life #2 (family)

#midlifeblog cresting the hill
the midlife empty nesters
As I mentioned in my last post, I am not interested in complaining about the advent of middle age and all the unkind changes it brings with it. Instead, I am discovering that it is all to do with how you look at this stage of life. There are so many benefits to reaching middle age.

#midlifeblog cresting the hill
our family when Ross and I were in our 20's
As well as being in a more secure place financially than we were in our 20's and 30's (mainly through scrimping and saving - that has paid off in the long term.) We are also at a stage where we have more freedom and fewer financial commitments. We may not be rolling in dollar bills, but we are comfortable and have fewer costly overheads with just the two of us to look after.

#midlifeblog cresting the hill
the teenage years - when you're allowed one family photo per year!
I read so many articles bemoaning the empty nest and I'm not really sure why it is such a sad thing. We feel a strong degree of pride in the fact that we have parented our children well enough that they could branch out on their own with confidence and do well. Both our children left home to go to university in the city - I know parents who have sold their house and changed jobs to follow their fledglings and continue to look after them. Our kids were more than happy to set up house with some friends and live on 2 minute noodles and cereal and celebrate being in charge of their own lives.

#midlifeblog cresting the hill
at our son's wedding - the last photo I have of the four of us
They have gone on to find great jobs and both have married in the last few years. I hint regularly that they might like to return to the countryside but they both love the city and the occasional visit home. This means that our house is free of mess and noise - after a while you stop missing these things and start appreciating having your own space back again. We come and go when it suits us, cook meals for two (or not), sit at the dining room table with our laptops and chat. There's no music or TV blaring in the background - all is at peace. The "kids" know they can call us and we'd drop everything if they needed us, but that is fairly unlikely as life seems pretty stable at the time being.

The freedom that midlife brings is that we can drop everything if we need to. There's no school being interrupted, no after school or weekend sporting activities, no routine commitments that can't be adjusted. Our time is our own again and that's pretty cool! It's been a long time since there was only two of us to think about when it came to making plans for anything.

I know that the grandbabies will come and we'll be up and down to the city more often, I know that my parents and in-laws will need more help as time goes on. I know that life's hustle and bustle won't stay still for too long, but this is a time of hiatus for us. Midlife is a time of savouring the peace and quiet, taking time out to enjoy small treats and time with friends. Coffee dates with women I have known for decades are so special and there is much less time juggling involved in being available for those catch-ups. What's not to like about this golden season? No, don't answer that - it was a rhetorical question and I know others have it tougher - I just want to turn the picture around a little bit and focus on the good stuff that is happening at this stage in life and celebrate it.


12 comments:

  1. You're absolutely right, turning out young people with the confidence to branch out on their own is what it's all about.

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    1. Thanks Fran - whenever I tell my husband I miss the kids, he reminds me that creating independent adults was our aim and we've succeeded!

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  2. I never experienced those empty nest feelings either. I enjoyed that fact that it was just the hubby and I. We had fun and did what we wanted. Sadly it didn't last nearly long enough to my way of thinking because I have to take care of momma, but I know that won't be forever and while I look forward to having my life back I also know what will have to happen to get it so I'm in no hurry.

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    1. Yes Rena, having the children leave the nest is a much more positive end result than when your mum leaves - I love that you take so much pleasure in caring for her. I'm sure you and your husband manage to fit in some free time for each other too and that's what's so nice about no kids at home!

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  3. Hi Leanne! I think your photos say a lot. While the babies might have been cute when they were small you can almost sense the concern on your faces in that early photos. In comparison, the photos of your grown children show both you and your husband with big smiles. You DO have a lot to be proud of and I think we all should celebrate the good times even though there are sure to be ups and downs along the way in any lifetime. ~Kathy

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    1. Thanks Kathy - you're right about the concern - it never really stops but it certainly eases off a LOT when they become responsible adults and are making their own way in the world. Now I'm going to re-look at the photos to see the change in my smile :)

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  4. Good stuff, indeed! You are so right to savour!

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  5. I really appreciate this post Leanne. I have to admit I'm one of those not looking forward to the boys leaving. On an intellectual level I agree with you - I'm so proud of them & happy that they successful. I think maybe it's the fear of the unknown. I'm sure I'll look back on this time and realize how ridiculous I'm being :)!

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  6. Hi Lana - I don't think we look forward to our babies leaving home, but they usually go gradually, so it gives you time to get used to it - and after a period of adjustment, you start to appreciate some of the nice bits about having your own space again. That being said, I am always excited when they come home for a visit and bring with them all that noise and the youthful vibes. :)

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  7. Lana and I are in the same phase - and it is nice to have you as our guide, letting us know that the trail ahead is not as steep and rocky as it seems! I am a strong advocate of my children living their own, independent lives - I just feel like it has all happened very quickly! Your are right however,I need to remember to celebrate these new adventures - not linger in the past.

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  8. It is really hard to watch your children strike out on their own, but so rewarding when you see them make a success of it. As a mum I'd love them to live next door and be a bigger part of our lives, but that would be clipping their wings and not healthy for them (or so I keep reminding myself!)

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