Counting Our Blessings

As birds leave the nest, so must our children.

Since our daughter left the nest to enter college two years ago, my little world turned upside-down. I mistakenly assumed since she was the older of my two children and I had always worked outside the home her absence wouldn’t affect me as much as it has. Only now do I realize the impact–good and bad.

I’ve met so many wonderful people through writing!

The good. I took stock of my life and began working toward my dream of being a successful, published writer. I’m unpublished as of yet, but I’ve completed the first manuscript and have begun the submission process. I’ve also begun my second novel, and have two more outlined. (If you’re interested in reading more about that first year, click here.) My husband and I have more time to devote to our younger child. Our son enjoys being the center of our universe, as his older sister did for the eight years before he arrived. It’s only fair, right?

We organized her dorm room. Meanwhile, I was a muddled wreck on the inside.

The bad. I have struggled to stay organized. I hadn’t realized how much I depended on our daughter to help with little chores around the house. She’s an expert dishwasher emptier, laundry helper, and pet caregiver. Without her around, those pesky jobs fell to me. I didn’t have time left over to do the extras. No more digital photo books for me. I also didn’t get around to making holiday cards or baking holiday cookies these past few years. Most importantly, though, I missed her. We’d text and Skype, but it wasn’t the same.

I’m happy to report I’m finally back on track and have adjusted to our new family life. In spite of some recent bad luck that waylaid me these past weeks, not only is the house sparkling clean, but our photo Christmas cards have arrived and are ready to address. To my son’s delight, we’ve begun to research holiday gifts and kinds of cookies to bake. I still miss my older child like crazy, but she is happy at college and I know she’ll be home again soon.

My family and I are very blessed in this regard. There are mothers and fathers who’ve lost their child to disease, war, or other tragedy. Their loved one remains with them in spirit, but won’t ever sit around the table again to share a meal. My heart breaks for them, as it breaks when I think of my relatives who have moved on. But I believe we are all still blessed. Let’s savor the little moments and wonderful memories.

Autumn serenity

I hope that, whatever your situation, you have a peaceful, contented holiday season. Take time to relax; savor family and friends. I promise to deliver a lighthearted post next week. Join me for a Margarita Moment, won’t you? We can all use a little escape now and again.

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gwen Hernandez
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 08:03:36

    Oh, this is coming for me, Jolyse. My oldest is a sophomore and we just attended college planning night last week. It’s going so fast! I think our good and bad lists will look similar when that day comes. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 14, 2011 @ 18:26:09

      I’ll be here to give you a virtual handhold, when needed. Hang in there, Gwen. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions. (Great fodder for writers like us, though!)

  2. Christine Ashworth
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 08:21:09

    Ah, Jolyse, I understand completely. Both my boys are home, they’re both in college, and they both do so much around the house that I dread the day they leave. And at 18 and 21, I know it’s just a matter of time.

    Good for you, though, for getting back on track. Start thinking of a plan for when your son leaves – of course, if he’s like mine, he might not leave until he’s in his 20’s and then you’ll be happy to see him spread his wings!

    Hugs dear!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 14, 2011 @ 18:24:53

      I cannot even fathom what a truly empty nest feels like. I’m hopeful I do a good enough job raising them that they are independent, but still want to see their mother. 🙂

  3. Nicole Basaraba
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 10:59:22

    Jolyse, you gave me a peak of what my mom must of felt like when I moved to Europe. At least I’m going home for Christmas so my family and I can have a very special dinner together. 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 14, 2011 @ 18:23:33

      You’re a wonderful daughter, Nicole. I’m sure your mom appreciates the effort you make to be there for special events. Enjoy, these times are precious. 🙂

  4. Patricia Yager Delagrange
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 11:12:28

    My son is 17 and I know he’ll be leaving probably after he graduates. I’m trying to prepare myself right now by giving him more freedom so that when he does go, I’ll be slightly prepared. But I know that’s not possible.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 14, 2011 @ 18:22:24

      Yeah, I really thought I was prepared. I had no idea. The good news is that it gets better. (And they always will be our babies, no matter how big they get or how far away they move.)

  5. Tuere Morton
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 11:20:46

    Hi Jolyse, I love that pic of us! I may just steal it 😉 Yes, I agree that just meeting the ppl, alone, has made the journey worth it. I have a big age gap between my kids too. And believe me, I’m so NOT looking forward to my 15-yr-old son leaving me alone with my 8 and 4 yr olds when he goes to college. lol! Isn’t that awful?! In fact, I have to step up my game as he starts geting ready for basketball season because he won’t be home after school to help me out. Hubby doesn’t get in till after 5pm each day so it’s all me. But feeling organized is such a blessing! It impacts on your writing and virtually everything else!!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 14, 2011 @ 18:21:15

      Enjoy the rest of the time you have as a family before the oldest must leave, making his way in the world. Remember, too, you can start “training” those little helpers. LOL

  6. Rhonda Hopkins
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 12:18:02

    Beautiful post! It is a blessing to be with our families.Thanks for reminding us.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 14, 2011 @ 18:19:54

      I sometimes get caught up in the worry of getting just the right gift for everyone, and lose sight of our simple traditions and the joy of being together. I won’t allow that to happen this year. (Gift cards for everyone, I say. LOL)

  7. Dawn Berkoski
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 14:11:49

    Awww. I love that picture of us.


  8. Lisa
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 18:11:43

    Nice post!

    I’m going to take your advice and enjoy the holiday season as much as possible.
    Maybe even relax…we’ll see:)

  9. A.
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 22:07:59

    You ordered Christmas cards? What?!? I didn’t get to approve the photo!!!
    Also, that photo of my closet is terribly misleading. It’s never that organized in real life.
    Miss you too!
    Love, “The older child”
    PS. I do read your blog, see?!? I’m such a supportive daughter. Hahah 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 15, 2011 @ 07:14:13

      Nice to see you here, my older child. Note I didn’t say you had organized the closet. Although, you can be a neat freak when you choose. 🙂 I love you and can’t wait to see you in a few weeks.


  10. Donna Coe-Velleman
    Nov 15, 2011 @ 22:50:22

    You will always miss them because they’re a part of you. I can hear it at times in my mother’s voice when we talk on the phone. It’s rough.

  11. Jeannie Moon
    Nov 16, 2011 @ 18:59:13

    I totally get this. I have two of the three in the nest right now, but all are adults and each one is planning their escape. I relish my new found freedom, but I do miss the mommy moments. I guess it’s time to make different kinds of memories.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 16, 2011 @ 20:33:54

      Hi Jeannie! Welcome back from the west coast. I can’t wait to hear about all your adventures.

      I don’t exactly have freedom with responsibilities to my son, but he doesn’t want Mommy around like he used to and I have to entertain myself. I’m beginning to understand why it’s so important to keep up my friendship with my husband. Someday soon, we’ll be just the two of us again. I cherish these days, but I love the idea of “us two” also. Every stage of life is precious.

      Thanks for sharing. You’re right. New memories. And I have a strong feeling our memories will be fantastic. 🙂

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