I’m an Empty Nester
School is back in session…a time that I used to look forward to not only getting the kids back into a routine, but also myself. Summer months were filled with entertaining children, playdates, swim meets, and vacation with the extended family. However, being a creature of habit, the disruption in my routine (particularly to my training routine) often meant that by the time August came around I welcomed school with open arms. Over the years, I somehow became like my mother and repeated to my children, “I cannot wait for school to start!” However, this school year was a little different for me. This year, with my oldest already in college and my youngest venturing off to boarding school, I was not as excited for the school year to start. This year I basically transitioned to being an empty nester, and I will be the first to say that I am not sure I really like it.
I suppose if I had been asked 10 years ago how I would have felt about this day, I would have said “it cannot come here soon enough”, but now that it is a reality, all of a sudden I realize how much I want that time back with my girls. As I left my youngest off at school, the previous 15 years of my life literally flashed before my eyes and all I remember thinking is all of the things I would have done differently…I would have trained a lot less, I would have spent more of my weekends asking my girls what they wanted to do with mom versus riding my bike for hours on end, I would have enjoyed more ice cream and desserts with my girls, and I would have stayed up late with them watching movies instead of going to bed early so I could get up before dawn to train.
My girls would be the first to tell you that they did get 3 trips to Kona out of my devotion (and other travel destinations), that they grew up learning about goal setting, discipline, sacrifice, and knowing that it is important for parents to have other interests. They would say I was there for them, and I can see how my actions, good and bad, have influenced them in their own endeavors—each going in their own direction, one demonstrating a lot of my same characteristics and the other probably taking a little more opposite approach, but both being tenacious, strong, young women who know how to handle some discomfort in life.
Cuddling vs. Pedaling
I am no doubt a better person and even a better mother because of athletics. I am not saying that parents need to put their life on hold for their children, but the key is finding that precious balance. I certainly needed training and racing in my life when they were younger, and need it still today–it is a part of who I am. My girls know that I am mom, coach, athlete…I just am not sure I always had that in the right order while they were younger.
A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, hobbies, goal setting, healthy eating and working diligently towards being the best we can be. We have an opportunity every day to demonstrate to our children what and who is important in our life, and they learn so much from what we do, probably more so than what we say. However, if I could have one more morning cuddling in bed with my toddler versus jumping out of bed to go meet the group for a long bike ride…I would not hesitate to choose the cuddle time (and then hit the trainer later to get in the bike ride).