garden carrots transplanted and still blooming cinthia milner

Veggie Gardens (and) Dahlia Gardens (and) Empty Nests

Yesterday, a friend was bemoaning her soon-to-be empty nest. Two beautiful girls graduating (one from high school and one from college), and the college girl getting married. All within a couple of weeks of each other. Her house will go from hustle and bustle to tomb-stone quiet. Her therapist suggested a hobby. Why do therapists think hobbies are a good replacement for kids?  Anyway, gardening was suggested, but she’s never gardened, and hasn’t a clue where to begin.

So, if your kids are leaving, or you’re just bored and feeling a tad interested in gardening, here’s a wee bit of advice.

Start with a veggie garden.

#1 reason why: You are rewarded with your own food. You’ll have the delicious thrill of holding in your hand, one sun-warmed, juicy-ripe tomato that you grew. What better hobby than one that produces produce?

#2 reason why: You will till, sow, weed, water, harvest, and basically tend to your garden, if not daily, several times a week. It is gardening 101+.

It is baptism by veggies.

You’ll begin by finding the sunniest spot in your yard. You need what I call parking-lot sun. Direct sun 10-4 is best. If you live with no yard, containers work too. I grow my lettuces in big, fancy pots that I used to plant elaborate container gardens in, but now prefer the lettuces. And, since there’s no reason to reinvent the how-to-garden, veggie garden instructions, here’s a great book on getting started. It’s fairly cheap on Amazon, or I’d bet the local library has a copy. I have one copy if anyone wants to borrow it, and feel free to pass it along to the next gardener-in-training when you’re done.

Veggie Garden Book Ed Smith

Here’s the link for his book.

Side Note: I regularly tell my clients, you don’t have to do everything in the book. I’m generally speaking metaphorically, but in this case, I mean it. This guy loves his vegetable garden, but you’re allowed to start small. Overwhelmed = Failure. Do a 1/4 of what this book suggests. Another little, pithy thing I tell clients, it is easier to add than to delete.

We want success here.

Last bit of advice: Buy and plant dahlia bulbs around your veggie garden. (You buy these now, and get them in the ground over the next few weeks.) They’ll bloom late summer when the veggies are winding down, and keep you motivated to get out to the garden and clean up the summer veggies, or plant fall veggies. Here’s inspiration.

firepot dahlia transplanted and still blooming cinthia milner

Firepot Dahlia

 

dahlia garden transplanted and still blooming cinthia milner

Assorted Dahlias

dahlia transplanted and still blooming cinthia milner

Dahlia

 

It’s Called Empty Nest & it is a Syndrome

  1. A syndrome, in medicine and psychology, is the collection of signs and symptoms that are observed in, and characteristic of, a single condition.

No wonder we have so many syndromes. Somebody is collecting signs and symptoms and giving that a name.

  1. Empty Nest Syndrome refers to feelings of depression, sadness, and/or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood homes. (Psychology Today)

Note, it does not say feelings of exuberance, joy, relief or downright giddiness. This surprises me. I totally expected to just jump right into this empty nest thing, and soak it up. It has been 25 years since I was alone, as in, all by myself.

So okay, it’s been a DAY since the College Son departed for Costa Rica to do the student exchange thing, and I can officially claim the syndrome of an empty nest. “Hi, my name is Cinthia, and I have Empty Nest Syndrome.”

I realize, for those returning from Afghanistan with PTSD, it just loses something when said out loud. But, this dang house is too quiet. And, I swear, not making it up, someone just tried to open my back door, but they did not because it was locked, and I was screaming. So, instead they ran off, and are presently telling the neighbors, “Um, yeah, don’t try making friends with the lady in the house on the corner. She’s cr-ra-azy.”

Well, I feel a tad crazy. I mean, all the hubbub that goes into getting your 20-soon-to-be-21-year-old son ready to live in a foreign country is crazy making. (As in, in two weeks he’ll turn 21 in Costa Rica. He’ll have his 21st birthday in San Jose. I feel so good about that.) It was/is an emotional roller coaster for this family whose favorite place to travel is Jekyll Island for a two-week stay at the Hacienda where we speak English, and sleep on the beach all day. Adding stress to our lives by experiencing “another culture” is typically not our M.O. because life is stressful enough in this culture, why go looking for it in another one? A real global girl, here.

At any rate, I expect the College Son to come back all tanned, 21, immortal, and ready for the next big challenge. Because he is almost 21. But, me? Well, the Psychology Today newsletter that gives us the Empty Nest Syndrome low-down, says part of the dilemma for we women (and men) whose children are leaving home is that we are also facing  “so many other life challenges.” Like caring for a parent, or losing a parent, menopause (I cannot believe I just wrote that word in public), looming retirement or disabilities. Disabilities? I should be offended. But, as I type, I have my foot propped up because I am in pain equal to childbirth, and assume amputation awaits me. Adding insult to injury, this is not the result of an injury, so clearly, old age has arrived along with my empty nest.

Just a quick note: Let’s catch Psychology Today up with the times. Right after Empty Nest Syndrome is the now popular, I’m Never Retiring Syndrome, shortened to the Remember-When Syndrome.

All in all, first empty-nest-day down, put me down for a no. I preferred my children at age 3. They hadn’t learned the word no yet, were still in my constant care, and loved to snuggle. The problem? It seems that’s about the age I should have started the letting go process. Susan Newman, Ph.D., says in her article on the topic, that the first step into the kindergarten classroom is a benchmark for the first day of pulling back, preparing both child and parents for final departure day.  Okay, so I am WAY behind. Typical me. Now, it’s about the cram.

But, alas, I have no choice. The baby literally flew the coop, and the eagle has landed in a sunny, tropical spot, no less. So, what’s a mom to do? Costa Rica sounds like a nice place. I hear it is a great place to retire. If such a thing existed, I mean. Psychology Today also said I should embrace new adventures at this juncture of my life. So who knows? Maybe I could be a global girl.

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, empty nest syndrome

The eagle in a tropical paradise. (Photo courtesy of SnapChat. Yeah, like those things work.)

FYI: this is a fun blog for empty nesters: Adventures of Empty Nesters