Alma Maters, Composite Photos & the Empty Nest

Oregon State University, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Corvallis, Oregon

I now have two daughters in college. This is the goal for most parents with pre-college age kids, and I was no exception.  Once you get there, however, you realize the goal post has been moved. The “consultant” role though less daily is still time consuming.

Being constantly available to guide, support and encourage your children never really ends. I knew that the demands of the “consultant” role for me would weigh much less heavily than the hands-on role of motherhood prior to college. As a creative thinker and writer for much of my life I have required long stretches of solitude to read, write and educate myself on the many topics that have fascinated me. When I married the necessary breaks in my long periods of solitude took some adjustment. Luckily, my late husband was a golfer which enabled me to have blocks of time alone while he was entertained on the golf course. Children in no way allowed for anything resembling solitude. The early years of motherhood were particularly difficult primarily due to the lack of personal time. I remember going to a party when the girls were small and spending the first hour sitting alone on the outdoor patio just thinking my own thoughts. Eventually, I surrendered entirely to the demands of motherhood and thought of my life in term of B.C. (Before Children) and A.C. (After Children).

In September I came home to an empty house (AC). For some this would be a terrifying prospect, but for me it represented a retreat of sorts. Initially there was much discussion on the topic of my moving. It was reasonable to assume I would. After listening to a good deal of advise my understanding was that “empty nesting in place,” was the wisest way to transition. It provides the necessary time to regain your equilibrium after the years of devotion and dedication that the role of motherhood requires.

After a very enjoyable and entertaining summer with both my daughters living at home I found the tranquility of being alone very pleasant. I went to the grocery store and asked myself what I would like for dinner? Then, I filled my fridge with my favorite foods. I cleaned my house top to bottom and gathered a large stack of books to read. I found three pairs of scissors and put them all back where they belonged, now they are easy to find, as opposed to the horror of before. I have a hair brush not sometimes, but all the time. I always have tooth paste. I love how things do not move. I can find nail polish, coolers, the tape dispenser and other popular items with ease. I can easily locate most of my clothing and my kitchen is always clean. This saves me approximately 20% of my time.

I am working toward the success of Ocean SF steadily in the mornings until I leave to teach language arts in the afternoon. The lack of interruption is blissful.

Last weekend I traveled to see my daughter at my alma mater where she is a college freshman.  As much as I wanted to see her I was sad to leave the peace and tranquility of my new life behind. Getting the dog to the dog sitter, boarding BART to San Francisco International Airport, flying to Portland, renting a car and driving to the campus took most of the day, but her bright smile at the end of the journey was well worth it. We stayed up late into the night talking about her new life. It was a relief to see her so happy.

During my stay we found a composite picture of me from my sophomore year of college. Over the past several weeks I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about who I am, what I want and where I see myself in the future. I’ve been pushing my company forward becoming a Bluesign partner and one of ten brands selected to be part of the launch for a sustainable retail platform started by Google engineers. It’s due to launch in January. Both of these milestones help in creating a path forward.

As I looked at my young face in the composite picture where I was a little sister at the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, I thought about who I was then compared to now. I looked over at my own daughter who is so much like me and now experiencing the both the joy and stress inherent in college life.  I thought to myself that I accomplished so many of the things I set out to do: graduate from college, have a successful career, and raise a family.  Now, our quiet family house is still and I walk the halls alone. I am making lists of what I want to do next. As I do this I think I am really no different now than the girl in the composite photo. In her eyes I see all of the plans she was making. I want to reassure her that they will all come to fruition. As I plan my next chapter expanding my company and building my brand I expect it will be the same. After all, I’ve seen it done before.

Love and blessings.


1 thought on “Alma Maters, Composite Photos & the Empty Nest

  1. I loved it! Well said, Sydney, and I’m seeing a bright future due to all your hard work.


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