Missing You – Dinner for Six in the Emptying Nest

I only get out six plates for dinner now. I used to have to think through who was working or out with friends and then do a little math, ending up with six or seven or eight. Now I just get out six plates. This is not enough and it will always be a little bit sad. Another daughter has already moved out.  She didn’t plan to, but daughter #2 slowly weaned us off her presence by being gone more and more. Turns out to be a merciful way to adjust.

One month ahead of her wedding, she moved out to what will be their apartment together. My oldest moved out after her wedding, so this was new for me. Her apartment complex looks so nice from the road. Is this a good thing or does it make her a target for burglars? There are lots of people milling about around there. Is this a good thing or does it mean more possible criminals to keep an eye on? Everyone around her seems nice, but you know it’s always the nice quiet neighbors who end up on the news. These are the crazy thoughts that play tag in my head when I visit her.

As for the weddings that lead to all this moving out, I don’t think I can write on and on with wedding advice. Weddings are like babies; the first one makes you frightened and full of plans and advice,big on schedules and obsessive to details. The second one just makes you realize how much you don’t know, how much help you need, and how tired you are. Especially if you have two in one year. See? Just like babies. So fitting that it works this way with my first two babies. Their weddings will be a reflection of their very different personalities. Annie’s was bigger, including anyone and everyone. It was spring and pastel and in the big woods. Lydia’s will be smaller, intimate, with warm colors and inside a small chapel – downright cozy on a fall day. Like with children, one is not better than the other, just very different.

One very incorrect assumption I’ve run into is that I don’t miss one child because there are so many left. Of course this is not true. Each child leaves a void when they go. I will always miss them. I miss every stage of them. I miss little pudgy Lydia and grown woman Lydia. At least I can call and visit woman Lydia. Then there’s the bonus of her husband-to-be. He is the perfect fit for our crazy family. We could use another brother or two around here, so we are loving the addition of two big brothers in one year. Even if they are to blame for this emptying nest.

pudgy Lydia

When you are falling in love, you hear every song as a love song. When your kids are moving out, you start to hear things differently. I have always loved the song “Missing You” by Amy Grant. It always seemed like a melancholy song about lost love. Now I’m thinking Amy penned this one when her first child moved away. Listen to the lyrics and see if you agree. Yes, I know that is not Amy Grant, it is Alanis Morrissette, but it is the only link I could find. Looking at her face while listening to a very tame Amy Grant will just have to serve as comic relief for this sad song. Isn’t is ironic? 

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I Think I Can Talk About It Now – Wedding Lessons

Aaand….they’re off!

Over three months have passed since my oldest daughter got married. It has taken that long for me to get clear on what happened and what I learned from all of it. There were so many intense lessons of a practical and emotional nature. Hindsight is not 20/20 in my case. So much of it is still a blur. I’m deeply indebted to the moms that were ahead of me on the wedding path that gave me all the advice I could take in.  Now it’s my turn to pass on some of what I learned. In this post, I will focus on the emotional lessons. These are the things I learned in conversations; things they don’t put on the timelines and the checklists even thought they should. These are just for the MOB’s out there, especially the DIY-ers, who need a heads-up like I did.

You may be sitting alone at your daughter’s wedding. Chances are, your family will all be in the wedding – everyone but you! You might want to arrange for your parents to be sitting with you rather than behind you. If you are married to your daughter’s father, he will eventually join you, but be prepared to be seated alone while you watch your family participate in the ceremony.

I was so worried about crying too much. I am an easy crier, at weddings especially. The best advice I received, hands down, was to cry myself out before the big day. A wise friend told me to give in to the crying whenever I felt it coming on. On the drive out to the venue the day before the wedding, I was alone and thinking of how it would all soon be over. These thoughts led to tears and I remembered my friend’s advice. I pulled over in the parking lot of a tiny church and cried and cried. It was probably the most I have ever cried because I was alone, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone being concerned over my distress. More than that, I think I gave in to it so completely because I had permission and a legitimate reason to let it flow and cleanse all the tension and sadness. Let me tell you, it worked wonders! On the day of the wedding I barely shed a tear. I was free to be joyful because I had mourned already. Trust me – give in to the big cry.

Be sure to take a moment with the bride’s father to marvel at the beauty and wonder that is your daughter. Everything changes after this day, but you two will always be her parents. Embrace the transformation and really watch it all change right before your eyes.

You and your daughter may have been working as a team toward a mutual goal for several months. As soon as the reception starts to wind down, that is all over and you two are at cross purposes. She wants to leave. You want her to stay a little longer. Worse yet, she has an accomplice that likely wanted to leave an hour ago. This stings more than a little, to see the people you went to all this trouble for making a dash for the door. Brace yourself and try to remember when it was you. That helped me a little.

too late to say goodbye

Plan your goodbye time. We failed to plan and it all ended awkwardly with talk of paying vendors and taking care of business. A meaningful goodbye takes a little planning. You want your own private goodbye before the happy couple does the photo-op goodbye.

It all goes by in a blur. One moment I was deliriously happy that the ceremony was perfect and everyone I loved was in the same room and my daughter was so happy. The next, everyone was leaving, all 200 plates are dirty, and I was more tired than I can ever remember being. Make sure you have not depleted all your help before the wedding. Reserve a couple of friends to stay with you until the work is all done. I let all my hard-working friends go home when they offered to help. That left me, my husband, and two sisters to undo what it took months to pull together. I put this under the emotional tips because it was very depressing to suddenly be alone with so much to do. I had imagined a big after-party with music playing, dish washing and laughing….nope. You have to plan that too if it’s going to happen.

Remains of the Day

Then you are home and your life can get back to normal. Whatever that was. Only, you may find you don’t like normal anymore. There’s something addictive about having a project and a deadline. It took the wind out of my sails to be left with nothing pressing to do. Have a plan for this too. Buy a book to read or plan a little get away for you and your husband. Have something to look forward to after the wedding is over.

A few days ago, my second oldest daughter got engaged and they are planning a November wedding! Two weddings in one year – no problem, right? Most likely, I will need a lot more advice. Hopefully, I will learn many more lessons. If I can retain any of it, I will pass it on. In the meantime. say a prayer for us. It’s not easy realizing I am nearly done with my part of raising His child.