Empty-Nesting: Not just for the birds!

“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered?  About something important, about something real?”  Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451,” 1953 (US science fiction author (1920 – )

Let me first make something perfectly clear – Empty Nest Syndrome is a very real condition from which many women and men suffer when a child or children leave their home.  While more predominate in women, more and more evidence is surfacing that speaks about the affect a child’s absence has on their father.  One of the best articles I’ve read on the subject is Father’s Empty Nest — with links and help for addressing the syndrome.  It is not my intent to make light of the condition, nor to offend author Susan Yara (who wrote Father’s Empty Nest for Forbes.com) or anyone else who has suffered from ENS.

But I am also dealing with changes since our youngest son left home, married, and gave us our first grandchild — Mason (isn’t he cute?).  And I think I can speak for other fathers who share similar experiences.  So who am I to wallow in my self-pity when I can talk about this, and bring some sense of understanding to other fathers who find themselves in my situation?

So you might want to take a seat because those who know me know that I’m likely to put my own wacked out spin on this matter…so putting all “political correctness” aside — I can’t NOT talk about this!  ~ Lane

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For us, no longer having kids at home meant the return of certain freedoms we’d been missing.  No, I’m not talking about “Naked Thursdays,” but of something more valuable.  Sure, it’s nice to come home from work, toss your work duds on the floor, and not even bother replacing them with a robe — but I’m taking about real freedoms — those you had to avoid with the kids at home or run the risk of causing real long-term emotional damage.  For instance:

Necking openly with your spouse.  It’s said that a marriage enters its second honeymoon phase when all the children have grown and moved out to begin their own lives.  The most successful ’empty-nest’ marriages are cultivated while the kids were still at home. There are hundreds of pages on-line that address how parents must work to keep their relationship alive, and not giving all the attention and love TO the children.  Parents who do often find that once it’s back to just a 1-on-1 relationship, they often no longer know the person their spouse has become — and the relationship suffers, and often fails.  Because the presence of the kids prevented you from engaging in certain PDA’s (public displays of affection) that were a part of your daily routine before your first child, and getting back to that level of open affection might be a challenge (if you abandoned it).  It’s not an insurmountable challenge, but your marriage may depend on overcoming it!

Playing your music loudly.  I like my rock-n-roll played at a level where I can hear it throughout the house, in the yard, and out as far as the mailbox.  But so did our son.  So to set an example while he was living at home, the volume of our music was at a level where it could not be heard outside the family room.  We asked that our son do the same, since his bedroom was directly below our master — and we asked him again, and again, and again… Now that he’s gone, I will play AC/DC’s Back in Black at an appropriate bone-crushing level — 8, 9, 10…sometimes 11!

Did I mention “Naked Thursdays?”

Last-minute trips out-of-town.  I fondly remember 1981 BC to 1998 BC (Before Children), when we could decide on a Wednesday to take Friday off and drive to San Francisco after work on Thursday.  A 1,380 mile road trip thrown together faster than a shotgun wedding!  Those days have returned!  No school commitments, sports leagues, tutors, music lessons, or “but I don’t wanna go’s” to contend with.  Just toss some clothes into the overnight duffel (no need to include clothes for Thursdays remember!), a razor and few other toiletries — and GO!

Now there are certainly more things you can go back to doing now that you have the house to yourselves.  I’ve included four of the most glaring I recall.  In fact, if you’re an empty-nester or know of one, please take a moment to share with us (in the Comment section below, or on my Facebook page) something you’ve experienced that you thought you’d forgotten.

Of course, it hasn’t been all fun and games.  I didn’t used to need an appointment with my son to get him to hold up the other end of the crown molding while I nailed it in place — that’s changed!  And I’m suddenly the only one at home who’s easily convinced to clean the litter boxes, and mow the lawn.  But I digress.  Complain as I might about the litter boxes, item #1 my list above more than makes up for it!

Until next time…cheers!

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10 Ways Your Man is Like a Retired Racing Greyhound

“Women and cats do as they damned well please, and men and dogs had best learn to live with it.”  ~ Alan Holbrook

I’m taking a diversion from my customary themes to talk about dogs.  I am a dog lover with no dog at home, while my wife – the cat lover – has three cats she adores and that I get to feed, bathe and clean up after.  We used to have a dog when our youngest son lived at home.  However, when Zach moved out we quickly learned our lifestyle was unfair to the dog.  We soon adopted her out to a great situation where she lives today.  Still, we talk about getting a dog when we retire, so at times I find myself considering all the available dog breeds to see which might be best for us when the time comes.

I’ve come to understand that a lot of people choose dogs that look like them.  It’s true!

    

I don’t know if this is by chance, or intended…but I’m pretty sure I don’t want any dog that resembles my looks in any way. A dog best suited for us, I think, would be a dog who was a “behavioral match” — you know, one that was also “retired” from a former life to match our retirement from the corporate treadmill.  During this research I stumbled upon a website featuring retired racing Greyhounds:

http://www.retiredracinggreyhounds.com/index.html

The author of this page, Lee Livengood offers “Ten Reasons NOT to Adopt a Retired Racing Greyhound,” along with the companion piece “Ten Reasons You Should Adopt a Retired Racing Greyhound.”

From Lee’s piece I quickly came to realize that I, like a lot of other Boomer husbands, have a lot in common with the retired racing Greyhound, so this might just be the breed for us. So here in my own slanted way I offer for your consideration the “10 Ways Your Man is Like a Retired Racing Greyhound:”

1. They shed.

Yes!.  Need proof?  Check the drain in the shower, or his hairbrush.  He doesn’t use a brush, or a comb? Then he’s all shed out!  The only difference is that your man’s hair doesn’t end up in your food as much as the dog’s.

2. No matter how gentle they look, both are still large, to very large, creatures.

This size issue is more apparent when you get either of them overly excited.  An untrained 45-95 pound Greyhound may knock down smaller children, while your overly excited 250 pound man-child may knock you down trying to get to the car when you suggest going out for a beer, or a few lines of bowling!

3. Men, Dogs, and lawns are not great combos.

Greyhounds love to run and while they don’t need a lot of exercise, when they run they will destroy your landscaping.  Men like riding lawnmowers regardless of the size of lawn they mow.  No patch is too small for that new John Deere D120! And given their druthers, both man and dog would do their business outside, which will certainly kill off the grass in small, obvious patches.

4. Both make messes.

Even the best mannered, best trained dog gets sick occasionally – which is no picnic to clean up.  And the best mannered, best trained husband will take a home improvement project to 90% complete, abandon it, and start on the next project!

5.  Both want love, and Greyhounds need soft, warm places to rest.

If you want a dog/man you can house outdoors or if you can’t stand the idea of either of them on your bed or furniture, then maybe the single life is for you!  Greyhounds are not suited to living outdoors and their bony joints need padding and a soft warm place to rest.  Men seem to cope sleeping on the hard, damp ground with little between them and Terra Firma but a 4 mil. sheet of plastic and a sleeping bag.

6. If you don’t have time for a ______, chances are you don’t have time for a ______.

Both man and Greyhound are social animals that need physical and mental stimulation.  And just because both are quiet, often-times gentle, doesn’t mean they don’t need training. Training the dog isn’t about obedience as much as it’s about forming a trusting relationship; while training your man is more centered around sorting the laundry, proper loading of the dishwasher, and vacuuming the carpet in that special way that leaves the nice marks in the pile.

7. Your man, your dog, and your best friends are not as compatible as Hollywood would have you believe.

Of course it’s nice to have the BFF’s over and show off how well you’ve trained Buster to refill drinks, fetch hors d’oeuvres, and sit quietly while you exchange gossip.  However, once they catch a glimpse of your Greyhound and his slim physique, soft, sleek skin and next-to-nothing body fat percentage – they will be on you like fruit flies to give up his dieting secrets and exercise regimen!

8. Just because your lifestyle and interests change doesn’t mean you can abandon your man or dog like a used toy.

Job changes, relocations, and new babies happen. If you can’t be as close-to-certain as humanly possible that your husband will be part of your life for all of his life, don’t let him get too attached to the dog!

9. Both are easy to live with but they do have special needs.

A Greyhound’s lack of body fat, long thin bones, fragile skin, and sensitive soul means they need protection from extremes of temperature, rough environments, and inappropriate handling.  If your husband is long of limb and has a body-fat percentage similar to the Greyhound, well…I guess a little inappropriate handling is to be expected!

10. Adding a retired racer should never be an impulsive gesture.

While both man and Greyhound may have run track at a peak time in their lives, don’t take them in because you feel sorry for them – or because having them around the house and underfoot is fashionable.  Well fed, both will love you unconditionally, and the man is good to have on hand to pick up the surprises the dog will leave lying around in the backyard.

Author’s Note:  I have the utmost respect and admiration for those kind souls who volunteer countless hours rescuing animals of all breeds from abusive, neglectful, or misunderstood situations.  And while I’ve taken licence to have some fun with one such animal, the retired racing Greyhound, I applaud the efforts of hundreds of people who are finding and taking in these majestic “best friends,” and giving them the care, love and life they have missed out on.  If you can, please find a way to offer your support to an animal rescue organization in your area.  Thank you! ~ Lane  

In Five Years Will You Just Be Five Years Older or…?

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  Abraham Lincoln 

When she was forty-six years old my wife decided to sit for the LSAT to see if she had it within her to attend law school and earn her J.D.  I had no doubts she would score well, and since she found her then work not challenging – well, why the hell not?!

What amazed us both was not the score she received on her exam, nor the offers from several schools to attend on scholarship, but the responses she got from friends and co-workers about her pursuit.  “You want to go to law school…why?”  This was the frequent refrain, which really seemed a way to hide the real question being asked – “ Aren’t you a little old for law school?”
To each iinquiry my wife gave what I thought was the perfect answer.  “I figure by the time I’m done, I’ll be fifty.  So I can be fifty, or I can be fifty with a law degree – either way I’m still going to be fifty!”

Isn’t that beautiful?  How many people do you know haven’t embarked on a meaningful journey because of their age?  Physical health is another matter, but a healthy “boomer” should never shy from pursuing an interest or passion because they think they’ve missed the chance to begin!

And this got me thinking…

What are the average ages of some interesting (to me anyway) careers that could be pursued, if one had the desire? 

Here is a list of some occupations and their average ages (U.S. workers) I found from various websites including The U.S. Census; several local labor unions and trade association web pages:

Occupation                                               Average Age (yrs)

Blogger in US                                                   44.6

Carpenter                                                         55

College football coach ( Div. I)                         47.8

Commercial Airline Pilot                                   51.6

Golf Pro (in Hawaii)                                          50

High School Teacher                                        43

Lawyer in the US                                              49

Real Estate Broker                                           56

The Rolling Stone band members                   61.6

Tug Boat Captain                                             50

US Congress (both houses)                            57.9

Winemaker                                                       47.8

Okay…the Rolling Stones have been together for about 45 years so maybe pursuing that particular dream is unattainable.  But I do have a good friend who plays in a band locally, and he’s got me by four years!

It took me more years than my wife to realize what I believe:  Life’s too short to go to an uninteresting job every day.  If you trudge to work when you could be skipping or running — start planning your exit now for an opportunity to employ your talents in a role that excites you! The only person in your way – is you!