How you Know your Middle-Aged!
A Steady Middle-Age
I haven't had much to blog about lately as October has been a fairly steady month. and I've felt pretty ordinary and dare I say, middle-aged. I've corrected myself when using middle-aged derogatively but ... life has been pleasant but uneventful. I've been back in the UK for most of it, hanging out with my oldies, trying not to visit Betsy who is settling into university in York too often and refraining from texting her and Annie (in Spain) more than five or six times a day. The hiighlight for my middle-aged existence has been having my lovely Saint Mick of Thana here for half term. He had a great time but I think was a little perturbed at the large list of middle-aged 'jobs' that I had lined up for him. (No expat life of maids and helpers back in the UK!). He even managed to find time to get new LED lights fitted to ‘our’ old Land Rover Defender while he was here so that “you won’t have to drive home from visiting Betsy with poor lights!” Hmm.
We've been getting a kitchen makeover completed so there were trips to the local dump along with the regular grass cutting, and other 'boy jobs'. for Mick to do. Yes, I know that is sexist. but nevertheless the tasks needed completing. (It is probably fair to say that my whole family hate my lists of jobs, but it has never stopped me writng them!)
Anyway, the Howdens kitchen is finally finished and looks great. (I should thank Terry McKitten the best joiner in England, Martin Barr, a wonderful electrician (so good that I have now got him working in the bathroom!) and Ann Clement and Matteo Hilldrith for a lovely kitchen design..) As the final piece of flooring was laid and the dishwasher started its first cycle, my level of excitement at a job well done made me think the term middle-aged really did apply to me. I'm not so sure young people get as excited as I did by new splashbacks! Not to worry I'm middle-aged and proud!
Anyway, what with one thing and another I've started thinking a bit more about being middle aged and have realised there are other middle-aged give-aways too! Do they apply to you?
They are not the best pics but before and after along with the reluctant kitchen model Terry!
Coping with Empty Nesting Anxiety
I posted last week about viewing the whole experience of being an Empty Nester in a positive light using Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice for my examples.. I joked about trying to not over parent and leave the munchkins to spread their wings in peace. Like many things it is much easier to say something than actually follow through and this week I’ve come remarkably close to overstepping the mark several times! I can only thank my kids for their levels of tolerance of my constant urge to over-parent.
I’ve noticed that whilst things are going super well with the girls, I can ‘play it cool’ and stay reasonably detached, but when there is even the teeniest glimmer of any problem (however small) I am suddenly there, offering unsolicited advice, suggesting ways of fixing things, judging and generally being an all round pain in the neck!
To be serious, any desire to over parent at this time does stem from real worry about whether the kids are doing ok as it is quite likely that they will feel at least a little bit homesick and have their own ‘stuff’ going on. The irony is that in trying to help it is easy to exacerbate this. A worry (another!) is that I don’t want the girls to ‘not tell me’ things about their life because of how I respond. I’m also concerned that they have both inherited, to some extent at least, the ‘Flint worry gene’ and that this creates problems for them in their own life! This is definitely not good! If only I could go back in time and learn earlier about role-modelling. Of course I can’t, but it is never too late to try to improve. I am therefore determined to put proper strategies in place to cope with Empty Nesting anxiety. This is what I have come up with:
Sleep Deprived Empty Nesters
I’m lying here in bed at 3.35 a.m. listening to the rain outside wondering whether Annie got home ok from her night out yesterday. I’m not too worried as I know she was travelling with her friend Alfie, but I question whether it is raining over in Spain too and if not whether it is cold. I hope that she has remembered to wear a proper coat. I know she won’t have put gloves on or even taken any to Salamanca with her. I check my phone to see if she has messaged but I am not expecting anything. It is her third year at university and I have slowly weaned myself off from asking her check in every ten minutes. I often manage up to an hour now! (Only half joking!)
Mick is in Bangkok and will probably be just getting up, I bet the dog is barking for attention. Betsy is in York and has messaged earlier to say that she is safely home from her evening out. There is no one to disturb if I switch on my very loud coffee machine so I get up and make myself a drink. It’s ok, but I know that Mick would scorn the inferior ‘bargain basement’ coffee beans. Only two weeks until half term when I see him. This makes me smile. I breathe out. For the first time this week my anxiety levels are within acceptable levels. Relax
I pick up Lucy Worsley’s Jane Austen At Home which I’m about half way through. I adore Jane Austen, (particularly Pride and Prejudice) and admire Lucy Worsley but I’m soon sleepy. I lay the book aside. I have planned to blog in the morning about ‘Empty Nesters’ and I drift off wondering what type of empty nesters Mr and Mrs Bennet were. ....
How Ordinary Moments Matter
Gratitude and Ordinary Moments
I’ve blogged before about how completing my ‘grateful list’ each day, even when I don’t feel like doing it, is important to me. I really do think that actively and consciously expressing gratitude creates positive emotions and increases personal well-being. I suppose it’s a kind of ‘you reap what you sew’ scenario in which, even if you don’t feel like reaping, you should ‘fake it to make it’! – I’m not sure I’m expressing myself very well, but hopefully you get the idea. Weirdly since I first wrote this blog the other day I have come across the idea of celebrating ordinary 'parenting moments' as a group on a superb website I've come across. It's kind of what I was getting at but much better! It is a feature called 'Ordinary Moments' on a website by Donna Wishart called What the Redhead Said. Definitely have a look at it.