Empty Nester? Maybe It’s Time to Create a Mid-Life List

About four years ago, after my husband and I dropped our youngest daughter off at college, I went through a sort of mid-life crisis. I missed being a mom and I wondered how I would fill the void. Sure I had my part-time bookkeeping business, but it consumed only a few hours a day and it wasn’t interesting any more. Something was missing? But what?

This prompted me to review what I like to call my “mid-life list.” This is similar to a “bucket list,” with an important twist. The idea was to refocus myself and figure out the things I wanted to do with my life in my fifties – while I could still do them. My list was short.

  1. Learn to play the piano
  2. Travel to Africa to see the elephants
  3. Travel to Tahiti and see the island of Bora Bora
  4. Travel back to France (with my family this time)
  5. Write a book

At the time, I didn’t own a piano and, with two daughters in college (on the east coast no less!), I couldn’t afford a trip to Africa or Tahiti. I had already traveled back to France in 2001 with my family (more on that later), so that left me to examine the fifth item on my list more closely.  If I did write a book, would it be fiction or non-fiction? What genre would I choose?

The answers to my questions came to me in the shower (which is where many of my ideas seem to materialize, strangely enough.) I’ll find my diary from my au pair adventure in France and write a memoir! For many years, friends and family had suggested I write about this experience and I would finally have the opportunity.

Over the next few days, I tore the house apart looking for my diary. Where in the world did I put the thing? It wasn’t in the garage. It wasn’t in the closet under the stairs. It had to be somewhere. I drove to our storage unit and searched through a few containers, but left in despair, certain I hadn’t put it there in the first place. The next day, I checked the house again and then went back to the storage unit. One item at a time, I carried everything out of the storage unit, searching through bins and boxes until only one remained. Buried inside this last container was a plastic bag and inside that bag was. . . my diary! Clutching it to my chest , I almost wept as I whipped out my cell phone and called my husband to tell him the good news.

There you have it. That’s how I found my passion. You can find yours too. Go out and make your mid-life list. Who knows where it will take you.

Comments

  1. Kathleen Manthey says:

    I too, am an “empty-nester” and that is why I chose to read this post. I seem to have come to a stand-still, not knowing WHAT I want to do. I have three daughters and for more than half my life I was a Mom. Now that the last one has moved out, it’s not quite what envisioned. I thought I’d be fine and that my husband and I would somehow have a renewed relationship, acting like we once did BC. (before children) But we didn’t. We are still the aging parents…. lol

    • Linda Kovic-Skow says:

      Thanks for your comments, Kathleen. You and I certainly have something in common. Have you made your “Mid-life List”? I think it’s important to write down your interests and investigate them. Hopefully, one of the items on your list will stand out (as it did for me) and lead you in a direction. Good luck on your quest!

  2. It’s a pleasure to learn about your book, which I am going to buy in a few minutes. I was an au pair about twenty years ago in Nantes, in the Loire-Atlantique. I have thought many times about writing about this experience, but ultimately decided fiction is the way to go. Because I worked for six years with au pairs and host families in “the other Washington” (DC), my book, Au Pair Report, ended up focusing more on them. I thought I’d write much more about my own experience as an au pair, but the book just went in a different direction. It’s so interesting how we process our past experiences and filter them through stories. Congratulations on getting your story out there!

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