Tag: empty nest (page 1 of 11)

Another year gone: Let’s do the Time Warp again!


Dear Wendy,

Time: it’s a funny old thing, isn’t it?

I honestly don’t know how this happened, but Rachel is done with college for another year. Exams are done, final projects handed in, lockers cleaned out, dorm rooms emptied (a whole other story, which my aching back will be happy to tell you about for some time to come), and…that’s a wrap, kiddies!


Good-bye, dorm kitchen!

College: Year 2 is done and dusted.

In September 2012, when we first dipped our toes into this whole “mostly empty nest” thing, it seemed like the school year would last forever.

I remember bidding a slightly tearful farewell to Rachel at Thanksgiving in October, and thinking that it would be ages before we saw one another again at Christmas.

This past September, I was a lot more sanguine about it, and sure enough, this year has zipped past as if it were on fast-forward.

If this keeps up, she’ll be completing fourth year in about five minutes, and her master’s degree in five seconds flat. I’m pretty sure she won’t be doing a Ph.D., which is a good thing since at this rate, she’ll have finished it before she even started.

The journey out is always longer

Actually, I have a theory about this whole time-compression thing.

You remember when we were kids and our parents would take us on those seemingly interminable car rides around the Nova Scotia countryside to visit the pilots who worked for Dad? It was a bit like when the Queen goes walkabout, except it involved driving to places like Herring Cove, Lunenburg, Digby, Shelburne, Port Hawkesbury, Bridgewater, and North Sydney.

We’d set out on a Saturday morning, and from my queasy, carsick point of view in the back seat, we’d drive aimlessly along interminable highways and country roads for hours and hours and hours. Eventually we’d locate that week’s victim’s house, where we’d disembark and be told to sit quietly and not make nuisances of ourselves, while Mum and Dad partook of the hospitality of the house.

Eventually we’d leave, and the drive home always seemed to take about half the time of the trip out—because now I knew where we were going, I recognized landmarks I’d noted on the way out, and each minute took us closer to home (and merciful relief from carsickness).

My point, and I do have one, is that when you know where you’re going, and you’ve made the journey already, each successive trip seems shorter by comparison.

The parenting time warp

As I think about it, this applies to parenting as well.

For instance: back when Adrian was a baby, it seemed to me that my life would never be anything other than an endless round of diapers, drool, and breastfeeding. From the perspective of a brand new parent, babyhood seems like it’ll never end…until finally, you graduate into toddlerhood, preschool-hood…and then the school years. (I was going to say “school-hood,” but that starts to sound like it has criminal overtones, so let’s leave it at that, shall we?)

By the time you and your child are in the school years, things take on a kind of sameness from year to year, and suddenly you know pretty much where you’re going from one September to the next. You understand the rhythm, you have a general idea what to expect.


How is this even possible? Beats the heck out of me. All I know is that it took about five minutes, tops.

And that’s when the whole time-speeding-up thing starts. By the time our kids are in high school, we’re acutely aware that our time with them at home will be limited (and we’re right).

Incidentally, go ahead and tell all this to a mother who’s just had her first baby. Go on, I dare you. You’ll come away with a bloody nose, guaranteed.

I can’t even tell you how many times some well-intentioned soul told me, “Savour this time! It goes by so fast!” while I was trying to cope with the whole shit and stringbeans deal. I remember smiling sweetly, nodding, and thinking to myself that I would like to stab that person in the hand with a fork.

And yet, by the time I had Rachel, I knew very well how fleeting her infancy and toddlerhood would be; I knew what to look for, how long the ride would take…and most of all, I knew that each phase would be a lot shorter than I expected.

I also knew that the trip likely wouldn’t involve me being carsick, which was a total bonus.

So as we embark on another summer with Rachel at home, I need to remember that the time between now and September will be infinitesimally short…and that we should enjoy it while it lasts.






The Revolving Door: Parenting in the not-quite-empty nest

Dear Wendy,

Back before Rachel left for college, I had this naive idea that I was about to become an “empty nester.” Continue reading

Changes in 2014: are we prepared? Of course we are!

Dear Karen,

Next year is going to be the Big Year in our household.  Like, Eiffel Tower big, like Blue Whale big.

In 2014, our eldest will be delivering her first baby, our first grandchild, to the world.

A smiling baby lying in a soft cot (furniture).

Who couldn’t be ready for this little cutie? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our middle child will be making the move from our tiny guestroom/office to a flat-share in London, the first of many independent steps in her new life here.

English: Cloudesley Mansions, Islington Forest...

Choose me! No, choose me! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our youngest, having finished his schooling in Switzerland, will be moving to Hong Kong, place of his birth, to work as a management trainee in a restaurant I often used to go for lunch.

Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong

Hong Kong welcoming Michael back into the fold. (Photo credit: Francisco Diez)

You could ask all 3 of them the same question:  are you ready for this?  These are their possible answers:

a)  Sure I am!  What a silly question!  
b)  As ready as I’ll ever be ;-)
c)  I’m terrified!  But it has to be done, so I’m going to do it, or
d)  All of the above

As their mother, cheering them on, I ask myself the same question:  am I ready to be a grandmother, am I ready to say goodbye to my second and third children?

On any given day, at any given time, my answer would be the same:  D



WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

Dear Wendy,

The word for this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is “Grand,” and I think I have a couple of pics that qualify.

This past week Rachel’s school term ended, and it was time to pack her, her laundry, several projects, and a pothos plant into the car for the trip home. (Apparently it was important to bring the plant, since she’s managed to keep it alive since September and was worried that it would be lonely, or perhaps deceased, if she abandoned it for a whole month.)

Before we could leave for the return trip, though, I got to attend college for the morning, trailing along behind her and trying not to look too conspicuous.


Here’s my first interpretation of “Grand”–spending a morning with my (extremely tall and very grand) daughter!

Also grand: each of the various profs I encountered sidled up to me and whispered that Rachel is talented, hard-working, and an all-round excellent student. That’s definitely the way to my heart: tell me you think my kids are terrific, and you could be an axe-murderer or even a politician—I’d still think you were a grand person, and a discerning judge of character.

Another reason for celebration: November is over! Which means that all the menfolk can shave those odd-looking caterpillars and Fu Manchus off their faces, and return to a slightly less hirsute state.

And by “menfolk” I include this fine group of fellows, Shopify crew members all…


Though they look pretty sharp with their facial hair, I’ll look forward to seeing Adrian’s upper lip once more. Truly a grand moment. (Photo: Shopify)

…and Adrian. Especially Adrian.

Knowing he grew his ‘stache to support the Movember prostate cancer awareness campaign? Excellent.

But knowing he’ll shave it off now that the month is done? That, my dear, will be grand.



Getting the family together for Hannukah: Traditions old and new!

Dear Wendy,

Most people who celebrate Hannukah think of that all-important first candle lighting as the Big Event, but you just know our family would have to be different, right? For us, the holiday didn’t really happen until Sunday.

Continue reading

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