January 21, 2018

Last fall was so crazy that I just stopped blogging. All I did was work. Which left me exhausted. Then, I reflected on my life by looking at three categories: what was, what’s new, what’s now. And then, I saw the hole in my heart, the truth: I was an empty-nesting mom in transition.

Oh, it’s hard to stop being a mommy! For more than two decades, I was raising my precious princess, my only child. But last year, I had to let her go and focus on me. These goals led to great things but also had me too busy. I turned into a human doing instead of staying a human being.

Since November, I’ve been reflecting and reorganizing. Where have I been? Where am I going? I had to look at what was, what’s new, what’s now. And what I discovered surprised me about the empty-nesting experience. Now, I have a chance to really feel and do whatever I want with my life!

No self-censorship. No personal judgment. No people pleasing.

No more college tuition bills, haha.

What was, what's new, what's nowWhat was

When I finally sat down to think about what-was, I saw myself as the daughter of immigrant parents, trying so hard to be good and do good. I was the divorced, single mom who worked a bunch of teaching gigs, always trying to prove myself.

For the past four years, it’s been a very college-y lifestyle. My daughter was away at university. Meanwhile, I was part-time Prof. Betty at three different campuses: NYU (journalism), The New School (creative writing) and Westchester Community College (communication skills).

When I came home from classes, I’d hang out with the two cats, blog, paint, do things with friends, see my shrink. My daughter would visit us on holidays. I was so used to this routine that I barely noticed how much things changed in 2017.

What’s new

Last year brought many reasons to celebrate.

First, The Princess graduated from college in May and found a fantastic job.

I “graduated” too, from a training program, and became a certified life coach.

By the end of the summer, my grown-up daughter moved far away.

I was home, learning to keep my opinions to myself and mind my own business as the mother of an adult daughter.

I was also revving up my new side hustle. Clients wanted coaching on everything from writing skills, career choices and family matters to  relationships, addiction and weight loss.

It was busy. But who was I? What was the point of my life, beyond working with clients and college students?

What’s now

The answers came as I dived into retail therapy. That might sound shallow but it was actually a meditation. What do I deserve to have? Did I want to make lifestyle changes? How do I define “fun”? Here’s what I came up with:

  • I gave my daughter our 13-year-old car and leased myself a cute, 2017 Honda Civic hatchback.
  • It was time to replace the ancient 2007 Apple desktop and old iPhone with the latest models.
  • I let my hairdresser try out a short haircut with caramel highlights. I bought new makeup, too.
  • For more support, I joined a book group, an artist’s group and went back to Weight Watchers.  
  • Ready for even more love, I adopted a rescue pit bull and shopped like mad for doggie gear.

Each of these decisions triggered deep emotions about who I am. Now, each day brings new feelings, choices and actions.

What was, what’s new, what’s now…for you?

As an empty-nesting mom, the big challenge is to nurture myself. Rediscover who I am. If there’s one word to describe the process, it’s “float.”

That’s the word for me. It comes out of assessing what was (mommy me), what’s new (me, just me), what’s now (embracing more of me). I’m floating around, exploring, keeping things easy, getting more sleep.

What about you? Do you have a key word that describes your intentions for yourself? Any sense of what was, what’s new, what’s now? What’s happening with your story?