From Empty Nest to House Arrest.
Three weeks ago, I was enjoying my empty nest. I was traveling for weeks at a time – part pleasure, part work, never needing to check in on the home front. What a difference a week makes.
Little did I know the roost would return and I would be sheltered in place with my husband and two adult children. While it wasn’t the life I expected after finally being released of kids in the house after 27 years, I am finding ways to relish in the novelty. It’s also not lost on me that I have family to comfort me, and people I actually LIKE being around. I’m finding ways to hold up while being holed up.
My college-aged son’s online classes are in full swing which he will take through the remainder of his term. My 25-year old daughter has escaped SF to enjoy home-cooked meals and room to spread, and my 27-year old daughter and son-in-law remain ensconced in Austin where she fortuitously planted a garden in the fall and is enjoying the bounties of her efforts. We are all WFH (work from home) and testing the limits of technology, physical space, and patience.
While it’s hard for many working from home who are struggling with homebound children, diminishing bank accounts and escalating stress — I do think we are changing the landscape for how work will be done. If we can, for a moment, focus on the positives (which incidentally is about the only way to stay sane), I’ve found many. Rather than the weekly calls with my kids, I get to share daily meals, games, walks, and shows. We are found scattered all over the house, huddled over our computers, pacing on work calls, and primping (or not!) for Zoom, until the lunch bell rings and we meet for a shared meal. Then it’s back to work. I’ve taken over the laundry room for many calls - a place without noise, distractions, people walking through my video calls, and a pleasant standup desk (where audio calls enable an efficient laundry folding moment.) We all try to squeeze in an afternoon stroll to bulk up on Vitamin D and bonding, then meet again for happy hour. (Did I mention the special joy of having adult children?)
During this time, we’ve dusted off the Scrabble board, enrolled in MasterClasses, binged on Netflix, and competed with 65 families worldwide in a trivia night. We’ve enjoyed homemade bread — thanks to MEA — and even competed to see who can create the tastiest mix-ins. (Toasted walnuts, rosemary, and raisins is a winner.)
With so many “together moments”, we’ve dug deep into our feelings, fears, hopes, and dreams, while engaging in healthy debate over how our world will be forever changed. I know this moment shall pass, but while it’s here, I’m trying to focus on whatever’s good, noble, pure, lovely, and admirable. I’m taking time to prioritize those most important to me. And I’m reflecting on edits I need to make in my own life. As some have wisely asked, is this the hard reset button the world needs?
Diane Flynn reboots women, workplaces, and MEA comadres through her role as guest faculty for MEA all-women’s weeks.