Do I Wail or Whine About Empty Nest Syndrome?

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published the week of June 16, 2014 in http://www.albertleatribune.com and the Courier Sentinel

Whining and wailing were the words that were the topic of a discussion recently on a Facebook page of writers. We were all listing our pet peeves about writing and the words that are over used in books.

For instance, I have a habit of writing the way I talk. I say “so” and “that” often and other words I use that do not contribute to the story and bog it down with extra words. Thank goodness for editors that — I mean, who — occasionally take me to task for adding those words.

This day the discussion centered around books where people used the word “wailed,” which means to make a mournful cry or a high-pitched noise. The other word in the discussion was whining, used in books to describe a character or what the character is saying. There are characters that whine through the entire book.

As I was taking part in this discussion I realized I have been whining quite a bit lately. I have been whining about wanting to move closer to my children who are the parents of my grandchildren. I have been whining about being closer to a coffeehouse so I do not have to drive 20 miles to have my latte and pull out my computer to write. There is something about coffeehouses that sparks the creativity in me.

I have thought that my whining was actually about living in a bigger city. After spending a busy weekend with my family, and in a bigger community, I realized that perhaps my whining was more about still suffering from empty-nest syndrome. That realization was a surprise to me since I haven’t had any children in that nest for at least 15 years.

I have settled into a routine: Watch my own television programs, hibernate in the winter and do the normal everyday things. What I have come to realize is that if I don’t have frequent contact with people younger than me, I get more set in my ways and I feel older. If I don’t physically engage in conversation with young minds, my world doesn’t expand as much. There is so much to be learned from the youth of today.

It seems that if there are no young people in my home, it is easier to not take part in the youth activities in my community. If I don’t have a connection with a young person, then even though I may go to those activities, I am still a bystander. Where there is no encouragement to take part it is easier to settle into a shuttered life.

Visiting the city I also recognize the opportunities there are for older people. You can get lost in a big city, too, but there are also senior community groups such as the one at the Chaska Community Center that are active daily, have weekly activities and trips long and short each week.

The seniors have their own part of the building and daily there is something happening for older adults to get out and socialize with others of their age and also with the younger people in and about the community center.

I like being part of a small close-knit community where neighbors help neighbors. That is the richness of living in a small town. If I walk out my door I can guarantee that no matter where I go in my community I will meet someone I know. I like the quietness of a small town and I can wallow in that quietness, perhaps too much.

So I have been whining, caught between the richness of my community, and a place where I have lived most of my life, and wanting to expand my world to try the big city and all it offers.

Family is a big part of that exploring the big city feeling for me. It is about empty-nest syndrome and missing watching my children’s plays and basketball games. I am missing the daily rush to get done with supper and get the kids where they need to be for their schedules. It is missing what I learned each day from my children. It is missing the cute stuff they say and the laughter of having a family in the house.

Those of us who have children have all went through it. I can’t imagine I am the only mom who is the age I am and still missing the daily grind with kids. Perhaps it is about remembering my youth and the family that I was surrounded by, aunts, uncles, cousins and missing that connection, too.

Do I wallow and whine and wail or do I accept where I am placed? Do I, or I should say we, the other half of the empty-nest syndrome person, spread our wings and move closer to our kids and grandkids so we can enjoy the hustle and bustle of their sports, their music, their young lives?

I have to think, like the dialogue in a book, that my whining and wailing is getting repetitive. Is it time to edit the dialogue of my life?

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