Rule #1: Life as Empty-Nesters Can Be a BEACH!

No-kids-at-homeWhen I envisioned what life would be like as an empty-nester, I imagined long walks on the beach, hand in hand. (I know … I live in Nebraska and we don’t have beaches, but you get the picture.) Lazy afternoons at the coffee shop playing games and passing little knowing nods and smiles. Laughing, enjoying my husband’s company and not worrying about a thing … except how we were going to pay for three kids in college at the same time.

What I did not envision is me at my computer at 3:30 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, greasy hair from not showering for two days. Ice packs on my back from a hard Saturday morning PiYO class (that’s Pilates and yoga, combined – as if one alone wasn’t hard enough!). Still wearing my pajamas and stained bathrobe. Yelling at my husband that he passive-aggressively, on purpose didn’t buy onions for a recipe he was trying to throw together for a Super Bowl party with a soup competition.

Why did I do this to myself? What was I thinking when I signed up for classes? Why did I think that at 49, I could possibly go back to school? The last time I was in school, the internet hadn’t even been invented yet. I had to ask my college students how to use the internet to write a paper! (Let me tell you, it is sooo much easier than typing it one painstaking page at a time on a typewriter, but it is still hard.) I keep telling myself, “If it were easy, everyone would be in school.” And, they aren’t; so that proves that it isn’t, right?

I go through these mini panic attacks every time I have more than a two-page paper to write. And yet, I still trudge on. I’m now halfway through; that’s a total of 15 credit hours. This may not seem like much, but it was a heck of a lotta blood, sweat, and literal tears … lots of tears.

Why, when we were at the cusp of what could have been some amazingly relaxed years that only parents dream about, did I decide to go back?

Maybe it’s because keeping my mind occupied means I don’t constantly wonder what my daughters are doing, who they are talking to, or what new friends and adventures they are partaking in this week, without me knowing. Maybe it’s because, after 15 years of working at a University, I decided to jump on the education bandwagon and just get that Masters I’ve been dreaming about for years. Maybe it’s because I need a piece of paper as validation that I’m good enough and smart enough (and people like me). Maybe it’s because I’m bat-shit crazy and just can’t take having breathing room – or what other people like to call “relaxation” – in my life. I don’t know. But I did it. I am doing it. I went for it! I am focusing on the dream of furthering my education and it is exciting, engaging, thrilling, horrifying, and terrifying, all at once. Some days I feel so proud of myself I could burst; other days I burst out crying from being overwhelmed with just trying to type a simple paragraph.

Why am I telling you all of this? How does this even matter?

Because the reason I was yelling at my husband had nothing to do with onions. Okay, I may have been just a little upset, but the real reason I was yelling at my husband is because I felt overwhelmed, depleted, and stressed out: I had been working on homework for two days solid, I was sore from Saturday morning PiYo, I had papers to grade for a class I was teaching on the side of my 40+ hour job, my butt was starting to mold to the chair to where eventually I would have to get a crowbar to pry it off, I was tired of looking at hundreds of tiny little seeds on the floor that fell off my houseplant and that would be there until they sprouted in the spring, I had bills to pay (which is always so much fun), we had to get ready for a Super Bowl party, AND MY HUSBAND DIDN’T BUY THE DAMN ONIONS!!!

I was a stressed-out mess.

This was not how I envisioned empty-nesting at all.

Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.” Heck, it’s a miracle I get out of bed some days. It’s a miracle my husband and I are still married. I believe in miracles. I believe that with hard work, a forgiving and loving husband, and possibly a sprinkle of self-confidence, a cup of panic, and two buckets more of tears – someday I will complete my Masters. I can’t wait. No, seriously, I don’t know if I can wait! It will be thrilling, exciting, and I will know I did it on my own, with the help of a few hundred close friends, colleagues, and family members.

If I can do it, you can, too. Going back to college may not be what trips your trigger or gets you excited to be alive, but I’m challenging you to find something that does. Take that leap of faith, believe in miracles, and do it. I am so looking forward to the day I get to don a cap and gown and celebrate this amazing accomplishment because after that, I’m taking one afternoon to sit in the coffee shop with my husband, take a long walk on the beach, … or at least, take a nap.


32 thoughts on “Rule #1: Life as Empty-Nesters Can Be a BEACH!”

  1. Great job, Michelle! I’m working on an online inbound marketing certification right now (essentially writing blogging content), so I feel a little of what you are exoeriencing. It’s never easy to go back to school, but I know you’ll do well. Just remember: It really will go by quickly and it’s so worth it! You go, girl!

  2. 💜
    At 61, with three kids (of 7) still at home, your blog may be as close as I’ll get to being an empty nester, lol.
    Nice work, good flow, hang in there girl. Proud of you!

  3. Michelle, you’re always entertaining … And insightful … And inspirational. Reading about your pursuit ALMOST makes me want to enroll in something, too! Hmmm, maybe that PiYo class! Yes, I think that sounds like a good starting place. I know what you’re saying though; I thought retirement would be afternoons in the coffee shop, lots of outings with friends, reading stacks of books, puttering around in the garden (during those 2 or 3 months we can putter outside), but for some reason I seem to be busier than ever. Doing what, I don’t know. Anyway, good luck to you. I’ll look forward to reading more of your ‘wonderings’!

    1. Thanks so much for reading, Nancy! I appreciate your feedback! I miss the days I used to get your feedback regularly. Enjoy your retirement even if it isn’t long walks on the beach, or in the corn rows!

  4. Nice work, Michelle! I loved it! I’ve been an empty nester for a couple of years already….quit my job and ended up in Omaha! And I just finished my Bachelor’s (not sure about a Master’s level) a couple of weeks ago! Rock on, lady! You’ve got this! And I’m looking forward to your next post! (And take it easy on Sam…he’s an empty nester, too! Maybe that’s why he forgot the onions?!) Hugs to you, my friend! 🙂

  5. This one made me quit crying and laugh out loud. I too hope you can find the time? to keep this blog going. It is an inspiration to all ages. I do have a life line but it doesn’t make life any easier. Hang in there, love you daughter.

  6. Great posts! Your blog is fun, colorful, and full of great insight. Just being here put me in a better mood this icky Monday. I appreciate your sense of humor and look forward to reading more.

  7. This is awesome… you go, girl… I went back when I got divorced and finally graduated at 40 years old. You can DO this!!! Love your blog.

    1. Good for you for going back to college. It definitely has its challenges. I feel like my attention span is getting shorter and shorter. LOL!

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