Rarely has there been a year when our family has celebrated so many milestones and major events–
Our oldest (and only daughter) graduating from college and accepting an incredible two-year fellows position 1,500 miles from home.
Our youngest graduating from high school and going away to college.
Our middle son turning 21. Something about – everything about – that age means so much.
My husband and I becoming official empty nesters.
Not to mention the intricacies of life no one needs to know about; because even in this culture where there’s a bizarre compulsion to tweet, gram, scope or stream Too Much Information on a regular basis, some things are better served and reserved as Personal Matters. Sometimes what happens in a person’s life is none of my or your business. I think we forget that, what with all the opportunities for oversharing.
It takes one to know one, yes?
Anyway, what most of you precious blog readers of mine can’t possibly know is I’ve had a job for a few years with a company called GO GROUND. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it in this space or even as a social share. GO GROUND, a ground transportation logistics manager, is a young company beginning its fifth year as I begin my third. My role for the first two years was solely related to collegiate travel during the championships for fall, winter and spring sports. It has been short-term and seasonal, lasting about 6-8 weeks during each championship. An intense 6-8 weeks.
I’m proud to say I’ve worked with several national champions for Division 1, 2 and 3 schools, in mens and womens’ sports ranging from lacrosse to softball, volleyball to basketball. It’s fast and furious, and I’ve learned that March Madness is, indeed, a road to insanity.
In addition to serving as the NCAA’s exclusive ground transportation travel partner, GO GROUND also manages special events. We’ve just concluded work with the World Meeting of Families, which might not mean ring a bell to those who aren’t Catholic, but pretty much everyone will know who brought its closing remarks: Pope Francis. The World Meeting of Families is what brought the Pontiff to Philadelphia.
GO GROUND handled logistics primarily for those traveling by chartered bus to Philadelphia for the Papal visit. Mine was a dual role for the event: account coordinator working with bus operators and groups attending the event, and director of communications to the motor coach industry.
The Department of Homeland Security designated the WMOF as a “national special security event.” As such, extensive measures were put into place to assure the safety of all pilgrims and officials in attendance. Until you work with an event of this historic magnitude, you cannot imagine the intricate detail and planning that must take place. In addition to WMOF officials, GO GROUND worked with Homeland Security, the Secret Service, local and state law enforcement, local and regional transit authorities, departments of transportation in the tri-state area, and others.
My role began in June, the Papal weekend in Philly took place September 26th and 27th, and I’m still tying up a few loose ends before we close the World Meeting of Families book for good.
Did you notice the timing? I started working on this event within the month after my daughter graduating college and my son graduating high school. What began, by design, as a part-time position in June, had morphed into 30+ hours/week by August – right about the time we took my youngest to college. By Labor Day, I was at full-time hours, which happened to be the weekend we drove cross country to move my daughter into her new apartment, where she was to begin her fellowship.
Three weeks out, I worked almost 80 hours/week, and by the last week and week of the event, I was clocking around 100 hours/week.
Never have I been more thankful to be busy.
I simply didn’t have time to dwell on my children’s absence.
I tell you all that for the sake of sharing this: I learned an invaluable lesson through my experience that will serve those of you younger than me. Tuck this away until you need it:
Plan s o m e t h i n g that occupies space and time when you’re facing empty nest.
I wish I could claim the wisdom of intentionally throwing myself into an all-encompassing work role, but the reality is it fell in my lap. Regardless, I see its great value.
Writing is a wonderful, creative, and sometimes therapeutic outlet. But it’s done in isolation and I’m given too much time to live in my head. For me, that can be defeating and sometimes dangerous. My job with GO GROUND has been the perfect compliment to my skill set, flexible enough to allow me to continue writing (except the past few months…!), but busy when I needed it to be.
Even though I didn’t realize the need.
I’m beginning to see more clearly the value of simply living a lot of years.
Experience provides insight you can’t possibly understand until you live it.
It’s incumbent on me – of all of “us” a few years farther along the way than “you” – to share what we’ve learned.
It’s up to you whether or not you’re listening.
Empty nesting is hard. After caring for children or others for so long you wonder how you will occupy your time. My dad had this problem right after mom died. He had cared for her 24/7/365 for 2 years-while she languished with dementia and sundowners. Now I’m facing an “empty nest” of sorts with my dad. He turned 90 this year is on hospice and is doing ok, but not great! That will be hard for me. I will cope like you did in keeping busy so as not to stop and “feel” the emotions of being without parents!
It’s one thing to be busy for the sake of being busy, and another to have “meaningful” busyness–does that make sense? We don’t want to go 1000mph just so we don’t have to think; but to have something important, significant or personally fulfilling is a game changer. Service to others benefits everyone :).
I can’t imagine that work load but as we recently brought our son to college for the first time I too was happy to be busy here….even though I am excited to see him grow it is hard walking through those changes !!
It sounds like you understand the sweetest aspect of “bittersweet.” We want our children to grow up and out, but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel the void they leave behind. Blessings to you in this new season!
The last of my three daughters went off to college this fall – but the oldest is getting married this month and so I’ve been frantically busy with that…plus caring for my elderly mother….plus my own FT job outside the home as well. So I too, can relate to being so busy none of it has sunk in yet. I’m thinking that November could be the start of something Blue for me….when life slows down and I have time to reflect on all the changes. Has anyone seen physical issues crop up during this time of life change? I’m thinking it may be manifesting itself for me in a physical way since I’ve tucked the emotions back in a corner of my mind.
I’m SURE lots of people experience physical changes…! BUT, that you’re thinking about all this is helpful; awareness is a part of the process. Maybe you can be intentional with your diet and/or exercise. Those two things are only good for you. And wow–you HAVE had a lot of things going on! ((hugs))
My first born is off to college with my second born headed off next fall. I do have my baby in 7th grade, so no empty nest for awhile. But the changes in the dynamic at home now even sometimes hurts my heart that things change. Need to remind myself God has this!
By the way I would love the clock in your giveaway!????
I still have one daughter living at home, so my nest is not completely empty – but I too had my oldest daughter move away around the same time my middle daughter got married and the youngest graduated High School! I will admit to floundering a bit wondering what to do next! And saddened by the loss of my position so to speak. I was reminded that I am not done – in Titus 2 it says that older women are to “train the younger women”… God can and will use our experiences! Thank you Robin for sharing yours!
And i would love to win the clock! 🙂
Robin, You are such a wordsmith and put things together in such decorative fashion! I think that the same thing needs to be said about retirement. One needs to be intentional initially, and then “what we do” can fall into place.
I loved the season you are in now. I enjoyed the choices the children made and loved their friends. It was fun seeing then in relationships that would go to the marriage alter. Now, grands come into the picture. And I don’t mind aging. It is a blessing!
I hear you and agree. I’m trying to stay out and get involved as much as I can. Though finding a paying job is tough.
Great advice. Though I don’t expect to need it for a while. I will tuck it away!
Although we can make our own plans, God has the best plan for us and our lives. I have been a stay at home, homeschooling Mom to boy/girl twins for 21 years. When I was pregnant I thought that I would have the babies and after maternity leave I would return to work (my plan). Well our daughter was born with a cleft palette and required around the clock care (me or a nurse; yep I was cheaper). So I stayed home (God’s plan) and I thought well when they go to school (kindergarten) I will return to work (my plan because I am just a little hard headed). So I did just that however it lasted about 1 1/2 years and then I “heard” what God was trying to tell me all along (see where I am going with this?). Fast forward to 21 years later when the kids are in college and I am still at home. My place is at home and I know that is God’s plan for me even during the shock of being an empty nester all at once (just one of the many twin’isms). I would enjoy having a job outside the home if that was God’s plan for me (already tried it after the kids went off to school and yep I am back at home-just a little hard headed). My point is that as Robin said (I think in the comments) do not just occupy yourself with busy work but meaningful work. Listen to God when he speaks to you and His word will give you purpose in your now “empty” life!! And last thing to add is Robin I LOVE LOVE LOVE your posts. Thank you sooo much for each and every one!! 🙂
Thank you, as always, for sharing your experiences. You help me every time I read. I have 5 children outside of the home and 3 still at home being home schooled. I, also, have a granddaughter I care for 5 days out of the week.
I have thought allot lately about what I plan to do with my life when all of the children are out of the home. You’re right, I can’t imagine it right now. I haven’t experienced all of them gone, but I do plan to listen to God about what that chapter in my life will look like.
I know that if I don’t keep myself busy, I’m sure to be miserable with missing the children that are out on their own.
Thank you again for sharing your journey,