My sister had planned to visit me this weekend, but the weather got in the way. Don’t get me wrong: we’re both really happy to see the state get a little rain — but we’re both smart enough to know that driving on wet roads in this state can be treacherous, especially during the first storm after months and months of hot and dry weather, which tends to make the asphalt all the more slippery.
Besides, the only thing worse than driving alone on the 5 from Sacramento to Los Angeles is doing it in inclement weather. So I supported my sister’s decision to stay home last night. Instead, we talked: about how relieved she was that she didn’t have to worry about the dog she would have left in the care of a friend… and how lonely it’s going to be over the next two weeks while she has her house all to herself.
“I really haven’t adjusted to the empty nest,” she said. And that makes a lot of sense: Even though the youngest of her three children is now a sophomore at UCSC, the other two have periodically cycled back home a few times… so her nest has never really been all that empty. Until now.
I haven’t adjusted to mine, either. How could I? After we left our daughter at her dorm back in August, I immediately went into preparation mode for my hysterectomy and have spent the last six weeks recovering from that. The surgery took a lot more out of me than I expected it would. While the pain wasn’t all that debilitating after the first week, I was surprised at how fatigued I was. I had no problem at all following my doctor’s order to take a daily nap. I had even fewer issues with the admonition to let my husband do all the heavy lifting and housework.
But after six weeks of near-isolation, I’m slowly beginning to re-enter the world. I work at home and a couple of weeks ago, began putting in half days. I had to: we had an event on Tuesday that needed to be managed, and by golly — I did so, even though I needed to rely on others to get there and I wound up spending all of Wednesday in bed. It was a start.
I expect my re-entry will accelerate after Monday, when I expect my doctor to give me permission to drive again. Once I get the OK, I won’t have to be confined to the house… and I’ll be able to resume normal activities.
The problem is, I’m not sure what those are any longer.
For 18 years, my life was dictated by the needs of my daughter. My days were planned around HER schedule: I piggybacked shopping and errands and socializing around school drop-off and pick-up and playdates and athletics. And now…?
My re-entry consists of finding a reason to leave the house.
My re-entry needs to be social: I am going to have to plan coffee dates and lunches the same way I used to meticulously put together playdates and classes when my daughter was little.
My re-entry needs to be physical: Menopause has kicked my butt and made it large. I need to force myself to be active. I’m probably not going to be able to handle strenuous exercise just yet, but I think my doctor will applaud a commitment to make sure I get some walking in each day. After that… who knows? Maybe I’ll join a gym again, or maybe I’ll just take some classes. I used to like to dance — maybe I’ll try that.
My re-entry needs to be personal: For a long time, I was a committed blogger — and then, I stopped. Part of that was pressure from family, who did not like it when I shared their stories. I understand that and adjusted the way I wrote and the things I wrote about, but I never could understand exactly where to draw the line. It was easier just to stop trying.
And once I landed the client that keeps me busy working on marketing events, writing for myself took a back seat to activities that pay the bills. The thing is, during those years when I was a stay-at-home mom focused on raising a child, I credited this blog with keeping me sane. I think now that my child is all grown up and on her own most of the year, I need this outlet more than ever.
So on a whim, I decided to commit to this month’s NaBloPoMo activity and today – November 1 – is my first entry. I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it through the entire month. I’m a slow writer and have two more events this month, which means that some of my posts may be no longer than a Facebook status update. The Thanksgiving holiday weekend will also be a challenge, because with all that family around it’s hard to find the solitude I need to put my thoughts out there. I’m not even sure I can write that well any longer — it’s been such a long time since I’ve done so consistently.
But I am sure I need to re-enter the world. And this is a start.