A new window on the world.

Dear friends,

I am sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee and watching it rain (hallelujah for rain!). I have a whole new window on the world, both literally and figuratively.

A few months after Mr. Mom and I moved into our new home last year, we learned that some of our windows were rotting. After a thorough pre-sale inspection that uncovered termites but not window rot, this discovery was particularly disappointing. The previous owners were meticulous in their upkeep and I have often said (and meant it) that I would have eaten off their garage floor.  How window rot escaped their notice is beyond me (unless, of course, it didn’t; but I try to give folks the benefit of the doubt). Anyway, representatives from the window manufacturer came to our home a few days ago, at our expense, to replace the ruined ones and repair the sashes on those in danger of decay — so I’m breathing a sigh of relief that my window on the world is sound again.

(I tried to resist pointing out that our home in Oklahoma, which is still for sale, has 91-year-old windows made of solid oak without so much as a speck of rot — but I failed because nothing gets to me like irony. Century-old house, sound windows. Decade-old house, rotting windows. Sigh.)

In addition to new windows, I have a whole new view of the world. Both my children have flown the nest. Parker is spending a few days at the lake with the family of his girlfriend and Kate is at her college’s freshman orientation. My house is eerily quiet in a way that is becoming increasingly familiar to me.

Mr. Mom and I woke up to an empty house this morning. We drank coffee in bed and talked — of our day, our weekend, our future. Parker has two more years of high school, but he’s mobile and has a social life that any teenager would envy and so we find ourselves alone a lot. I’ve said jokingly that I’m glad we like each other, but I know it’s no laughing matter. That Mr. Mom and I enjoy each others’ company is one of the greatest blessings in my life.

I’m less and less restless about this lack of children to fuss over and (s)mother. Even though I’m not entirely certain what Mr. and I are going to do with this newfound time on our hands, the prospect no longer unnerves me.

What does give me pause is the unknown of my relationship with Kate. Will we talk on the phone? Skype? Text? Email? All of the above? (I hope!) Will we communicate frequently, or will she be in touch only when she needs me? What does the mother-daughter connection feel like when it’s no longer daily? I assume my relevancy will ebb and flow in her life, but how will those tides feel for me?

I suspect I’ll have different perspectives on these questions as time marches on. In the mean time, I’m “swimming  upstream” and mindful of all that is new and glistening in my world.

The unflinching light of mindful awareness reveals the extent to which we are tossed along in the stream of past conditioning and habit. The moment we decide to stop and look at what is going on (like a swimmer suddenly changing course to swim upstream instead of downstream), we find ourselves battered by powerful currents we had never even suspected—precisely because until that moment we were largely living at their command.

— Stephen Batchelor, “Foundations of Mindfulness”

With gratitude {for new views},

Joan, who believes washing windows is a most satisfying chore


  1. There are so many ways to immediately connect and past that easily and quickly keep in touch now, “away” is partly just a state of mind.

    One phenomenon I can spotlight for you ahead of the game? Child is upset for whatever reason (it can be anything large or small). Child calls to vent to Mom. Mom, having a perfectly normal day up until that point offers loving support and potentially calming advice. Child eventually rings off. Mom continues to stew for (fill in how long it takes between calls/texts/emails) only to discover after that phone call? The one about the issue that has dominated Momma’s thoughts for however long? The Child hung up feeling heard, affirmed, calmed, supported and in a much better mood only said Child did not SAY SO to Mom. That awful mood triggered by whatever it was simply got dumped onto Mom and in doing so the child was released from the strain. Mom continuing to carry that strain is entirely optional but how is a Mommy to know that without some sign?

    HERE is that sign. Do not carry your kids’ moods around after they call (unless they are happy then take that in ALL the way and hold it). The unhappy moments they will share with you will often dissipate at the sound of your voice, so I hope you won’t fall into that emotional Sherpa trap that, uh, happened to a friend of mine’s cousin’s neighbor.

  2. Deb — “Away is . . . just a state of mind.” I love it! You always offer me so many gems and I particularly appreciate this one as I move through the next few weeks.

    And your caution is duly noted. I’ve always been pretty good at not carrying around my children’s moods, but I suspect that has had a lot to do with the fact that they’ve been right under my wing and I can observe how quickly they change. I’ll remind myself of that the first time Kate calls to vent about a bad day. As Elizabeth Gilbert said in “Eat, Pray, Love,” — “Send (her) some love and light and move on.”

  3. Parker will find that he has the undivided attention of two parents, something he has seldom had since Kate was always there. He may not like that. Sounds like his social life will keep him busy though. You two may not get to parent him as much as you would like. Then all you are left with is each other. Hope you still like each other as you did before you married and can enjoy reconnecting. 🙂

  4. Excellent questions, all. I’m trying to figure this out, too; in fact, it’s one of the main forces behind starting a blog with my younger but more empty-nest-experienced sister! Thanks for the post.

  5. This makes me think about when I went away to college and how my mom must have felt. I don’t know if I considered it very much? And now I feel kind of bad about that even though I was young and foolish then as we are supposed to be.


  1. […] who wants to give a shout-out to regular reader Deb, without whose sage advice on this post I might have lain awake “carrying the strain” of Kate’s mood Share […]

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