I wrote this blog back in 2019 but never posted it. I can’t remember why, but I found it recently and it resonated with me more than ever. It’s about the first time the girls went trick-or-treating without me and about me trying to cope with the fact that they are getting older and more independent. Now they’re both in high school and hardly ever want me around. Ella didn’t even bother coming home this weekend after the football game until Sunday. In less than two years, she’ll be away at college and in 4 years, Seren will be too. As much as they drive me crazy, it still breaks my heart. And so, I decided to post this now for every mom that is struggling with cutting the apron strings like I am. This blog is for you. ❤
Before you start reading, I should warn you that this is more of a personal blog, filled mostly with feelings and less with financial information. You see, something happened to me recently that I felt like I needed to share with other parents who might be going through this too. Maybe we could start a support group, I don’t know. Anyway, here it goes. For the first time in 12 years, my kids asked if they could trick-or-treat with their friends instead of with me. Let’s pause for a moment to allow this devastating question to sink in... Okay, so technically only Ella asked, but that led to Seren deserting me as well. It is time to come to terms with the fact that they don’t want to hang out with me anymore. I am no longer fun.
Am I being overly dramatic? Of course I am, but it still sent a stab of pain to my heart. I didn’t tell the girls how much this aggrieved me, I just said “yes”, because why wouldn’t I? I trust them. They are good girls who have great friends. They don’t need me to escort them around the neighborhood. Still, I couldn’t help but feel like I was losing something. It’s not that I love walking around in the cold, carrying the candy bags when they get too heavy, and not being able to feel my fingers by the end. But we always had fun – laughing and joking, spending the evening together just the three of us. Suddenly, POOF, just like that and without warning, it’s all over? If only I had known that last year would be the last year. I would have held onto it a little bit longer. I would’ve taken a moment to make my peace with it. (Yes, I’m still being dramatic.)
I was lamenting this to a friend earlier on Halloween day. I believe the text he received was a lot of crying emojis. His daughters are older (both now in college), so he has already been through this. I thought he could relate. Instead, he said to me, “Jen, this is not a bad thing. They’re getting older. Enjoy some adult time.” At first, I thought he was too far removed to be sympathetic, but after a moment, I realized he was right. This was bound to happen, and truth be told, I’m lucky the girls spent Halloween with me for as long as they did. I remember trick-or-treating without my parents at a much younger age than Ella is. I shouldn’t think of this as the end of an era, but rather as the beginning of something new. I may not be able to stop my babies from growing up, but I can (and should) relish the fact that they’re turning into responsible young adults that I can trust to go out with friends and know that they’ll be okay and safe.
Once I got over this hump of feeling sorry for myself, I was able to buck up and have a good time on Halloween. My boyfriend and I went out to dinner and passed out candy, fussing over kids’ costumes and laughing hysterically as he tried to tether our giant blow-up dragon, Jerry, to the ground. (The poor thing almost flew away in the crazy, strong wind.) I even put on a costume! And as the wind picked up and the temperature dropped, and snow flurries were spotted, I found myself relieved to be inside and warm instead of outside, half-frozen, running after two kids.
What does any of this have to do with financial planning? Absolutely nothing. I just wanted to send a reminder out there that how we react to things impacts our own happiness. This includes financial situations. Will there be a recession next week, next month, or next year? Maybe. We can’t predict the future and we can’t control what the market does any more than we can control our kids growing up. The only thing we can do is make the best out of the situation we are given. In the financial world, making the best out of a situation is through education and learning. What we can control is what we know. By educating ourselves, we become empowered to make smarter financial decisions. By understanding how the market works and knowing that there will always be ups and downs, we will hopefully curb our panic towards volatility and shape our reaction to it in a more productive way.
If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that by changing my attitude, I can make myself happier. What could have easily been a deeply depressing night of me eating a lot of candy through my tears, turned into a night of fun – all because I changed my outlook on my circumstances. If we can all remember that the next time the market closes on a down day or the next time the media starts talking about the impending financial crisis, we might save ourselves a little bit of heartburn.
In closing, I hope everyone has a very happy Halloween! If you have littles, do me a favor and take a extra moment to appreciate chasing after them in the cold for all of us whose time has passed. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in starting a “Pre-Empty Nesters” club, hit me up! Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Links are below! Until next time!