Extreme empty nest solutions

On Sunday I received a phone call from the foreign exchange student coordinator a couple hours after my daughter moved out.

Sunday was a bittersweet day.

On Sunday, my best friend became a grandma for the first time.

On Sunday, it’s been a year and a day since my close friend lost her daughter in a fiery car crash.

On Sunday, my daughter moved 4 hours away and is not planning on living at home again.

I was feeling down as you can probably imagine.

My oldest daughter moved out, my son is off pet sitting this week, and my youngest daughter is volunteering this week as a camp cook. I’m feeling the empty nest kick in. I realized that I may have a harder time with this whole empty nest thing than I thought.

I’ve been a caregiver since I can remember. I was my autistic brother’s “second mom”. I also helped with my other two younger brothers.

In college, I was a caregiver for an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s and a middle aged man with Paranoid Schizophrenia. I took care of my brother Matt up until after I had several kids of my own. I also took care of my Aunt Grace when she had dementia. I provided day care for several children when my kids were little.

I don’t know what it is like to not take care of someone and the thought is a little scary.

As I was crying and feeling sorry for myself, the phone rang. The foreign exchange program coordinator called and said she had an emergency situation. One of the host parents for a student from Germany ended up getting into a serious motorcycle accident and broke her back. This student was really into music and needed a home.

I was wondering what to do with my daughter’s empty room. So we filled it. Now we will be hosting two foreign exchange students starting next month, Estelle from France and Clara from Germany.

I feel like my life has meaning again. I suppose most people get another pet once they start emptying the nest. Not me, I guess you could say I am rather extreme.

Even though it might be stressful having 3 teenagers in the house again, I am going to enjoy this last year of chaos before I have an empty nest.

By the time next year rolls around, I might actually be okay with only taking care of me.

 

May

It is finally here, the month I have been dreading and waiting for.

My son will be graduating this month. Despite his procrastination and grades that are less than satisfactory, I think he is going to pull it off.

Alex has finally matured enough that I think he is going to be fine without us. He told me this week, that although he doesn’t say it often enough, he is going to really miss us and that he appreciates everything we’ve done for him. He also said that although he doesn’t spend a lot of time with us that he doesn’t want us to take it personally that he is leaving. He said that it is time for him to be an independent man now. I agreed. I told him that it was normal to want to leave home once you are an adult.

I am letting go and he is planning on leaving. He told me he isn’t planning on leaving the area anytime soon and will probably visit us a lot. That made me feel happy since my son is not the type to share these things.

Next month Alex is planning on moving out.

This month Angel will be coming home from college. But this summer she is not planning on staying with us like she previously did. She just put in an application for an apartment and is planning on staying here until she can move in. She will live 4 hours away.

Two out of three kids are planning on leaving home for good next month. I will be happy and sad to see them go. It is bittersweet.

We still have Arabella at home. She will be 16 this month.

We are also planning on filling the void by getting a foreign exchange student. Estelle from France will be moving in the beginning of August.

A new adventure awaits!

The adventures of Hickory

Our foreign exchange student from Japan arrived safely Friday night. She was tired, so we gave her a little cheese and sent her off to bed. She already has the knickname of Hickory, very similar to her own name. I liked the name so much it made me long to have one more child. What? Wait! No!  Forget about that, but it is nice to have one teen in the house that doesn’t talk back. Lol. Everything is exciting and new for her. Her sense of wonder reminds me of a 2 year old without the tantrums. So far it has been a very pleasant experience. Paul and I would like to have a foreign exchange student longer than a week when our youngest is in high school. 

Saturday morning, Paul made bacon and pancakes with real maple syrup on top. As is customary when we have a family meal, we say a prayer in thanksgiving for our meal. We tried to explain to Hickory our culture and beliefs. Paul asked Hickory if she knows what Christianity is. “No” replied Hickory. He asked if she knows God. “No” replied Hickory. He asked Hickory if she knows about Jesus as he was bringing out the cheese. Very excitedly Hickory replied, “Yes, I know cheeses”. I suppose it will be confusing if we send her home with a cheesehead. She may end up telling her parents that we have a strange culture. Stories of us Wisconsinites worshipping cheeses before eating it. Stories of us worshipping strange men in cheese colored uniforms while wearing cheeseheads. Makes me wonder what other people think of us, huh? Don’t ya know? 

Hickory also arrived bearing gifts from Japan. She gave us green tea cookies and chocolate, a fan, soup bowls, chopsticks, and saki. The saki was wrapped in newspaper written in Japanese. Of course, I am thinking of sending back some good WI beer wrapped in newspaper. I could wrap it up and send it back in a cheesehead for protection. Hickory’s dad is a sushi chef. No pressure, right? We have been making a lot of “American” food for her. Paul is making his homemade pizza tonight. It is the best pizza ever. Good thing you don’t know where we live. We are thinking of getting her dad either a Brewers or Packers apron. Now if we could only get some brats and cheese to them…hmmm. 

Other than that, we have been trying to show Hickory as much of our culture as we can. Last night we went to a chili dump. Some of the other foreign exchange students were there. They had a bonfire, live music, pumpkin carving, a piƱata, and other yard games. Today we played miniature golf and had a picnic at a park with the school group. I hope she really has a good experience here. And she doesn’t go home telling everyone that we worship cheeses. 

Welcome home?

On an airplane right now sits a young 13 year old girl flying from Japan with a few of her classmates to America. Her destination, my house. We will be hosting a foreign exchange student for 1 week. She doesn’t speak a lot of English and is probably nervous about the kind of family she is going to meet. I would be nervous if I was her too. Especially if she read some of my blogs from the last few weeks. Lol. 

Thankfully Jake made it home safely before her arrival. After my son and his friend tried to stop Jake from running away, Jake started his journey on the railroad tracks in the rain. He walked all night to obtain his sense of freedom as he told his friends. He walked 30 miles that night. Then he was cold, tired, and hungry and decided to turn around and head back home. Maybe the adventure of all of the survival reality shows spurred him on. Never mind the search efforts back at home. If I had to place bets on any of my son’s friends winning a survivor show, it would be Jake. He is a tough avid outdoorsman. When my son asked Jake how his sense of freedom felt, Jake replied terrible. I would suggest marathon running for Jake next time instead of running away. At least he would get a medal. I think he learned his lesson, so it is probably best not to say anything for awhile. 

Talking about running, I did get in a 12 mile run today. I had no motivation at all. It was cool and very windy. I spent half of the time running against that strong wind. At times I felt like I was running in place. That was almost enough to knock the wind out of my sails. Lol. Today I feel hungry! I haven’t felt hungry in months. I think my body wants to go into hibernation mode to put some meat on my bones for winter. 

I hope our foreign exchange student likes it here. I have always wanted to do something like this. I guess I will find out how good I am at nonverbal communication. What an adventure!