I am in a bit of a funk. The holiday decorations are put away and the house is once again far too clean and calm for my liking. It seems like seconds ago when it was filled with chatter, chaos and clutter when my three adult daughters happily busted through my door to celebrate the season. I wanted to freeze-dry our time, stop the train so to speak or at least slow the whole darn thing down. It is in times like these that I recall the words of my Gram who would remind me to “appreciate the flip side”.
Although easier said than done, I began focusing on the “flip side” of having my kids vacate my home. My Dad, who can spew quotes across the breakfast table verbatim from whatever periodical he has his nose in, recently told me that he read that over 40% of millennials lived with their parents in 2016; a record 75-year high that hasn’t been seen since the U.S. was recovering from the Great Depression. So perhaps that I have three daughters with four-year degrees in four years, cum laude, employed and living independently, is a good, no make that miraculous, thing.
My nest being empty means that my children’s lives are full, but it still hurts.
My nest being empty means that my children’s lives are full, but it still hurts. I ache because of my intense love for them. I am certain that most of us would agree, that when you love deeply and allow yourself to be vulnerable, you run the risk of getting hurt. However, if you focus on the “flip”, the immortal words of my favorite Pooh Bear come to mind. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” In 2017, I hope to have countless hellos even though they often come with goodbyes and the possibility of “ugly crying” that consists of audible sobs, mucus drainage and the need for Kleenex.
There will be times when the “coin toss” does not go in your favor and you will land on the “flip side”. It has been my experience, that what I thought were my biggest curses lead to some of my greatest blessings. When first diagnosed with cancer, I never would have believed that. How can anything good come out of something so horrific? I am grateful for going through “the war”, as my chemo buddy calls it, of battling breast cancer. I am now a member of the “pink sorority”.
Even though the “initiation” into the club was brutal, it allowed me to meet incredible women of strength who have motivated, inspired and forever changed me for the better. The “flip side” to the pain I endured was living every day to the fullest, doing things NOW instead of one day, discovering an endless source of inner strength, realigning my priorities, truly forgiving, finally forgetting, appreciating everyone and everything, having an attitude of gratitude and coming to the realization that any day with hair is a great hair day. It’s amazing what you can learn when you let go of the fear of “flipping”.
Your big, fat failure may turn into your greatest success. In the words of Thomas A. Edison, a man who helped us find the light, “I have not failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
If or when you find yourself hanging on the “flip side” remember that everything is temporary.”
May your upcoming orbit around the sun bring you moments of joy, good health, happiness and love. If or when you find yourself hanging on the “flip side”, remember that everything — the good and the bad, the moments of confidence and insecurity, the days of fitting into your skinny jeans and those where you need whip out the SPANX — is temporary.
Like my buddy Pooh Bear, there are times, especially in the post-holiday quiet, when I wish we could “go back to page one and do it all over again.” In the year ahead, I plan on embracing and appreciating the days when the ones I love are under my roof and around my table and explore what this new chapter of life has in store for me when they’re not.
Mary Helen Darah is an award-winning columnist who has appeared in numerous publications in the Toledo area and beyond. Her column, The Mother of Mayhem, publishes on ProMedica HealthConnect each month.