Today is the first day of school for my two sons who are 12 and 9. 
 
They don’t want to go.
 
And I’m going to miss them.
 
When your kids are little, they physically need you. Like A LOT. Our brains are continually scanning – what are they eating, watching, doing, playing? Are they sleeping, drinking enough water? Are they safe? Where do they need to be? Who are they around? Are they happy?
 
As a mom, you somehow learn to a magic ability to scan this list of questions in a millisecond. The more you’re around your kids, the more your brain is conditioned to go through these questions, plus deal everything else. So this means during the summer or if your kiddos are still little, you’re used to orienting your time based on these responses and more.
 
And then they leave you.
 
There’s hours of quiet. “Finally, I can get something done without being interrupted.”
 
For me, this also means:
No more mid-morning hugs. Or kisses on the cheek. No afternoon laughs. No random games of Uno. No staying up late snuggling watching all the Avengers movies on a Tuesday night. No rambling stories about what they just built in Minecraft. No more working out together at the gym. No more summer “bucket list” mania.
 
It’s all the little, itty bitty moments I miss.
 
For me, it’s not really about the processing of time and them getting older. It’s more about the fact that my brain is still scanning those questions about their care and well being – but the kids are not there! My heart is searching for their presence. When I look around, I’m totally by myself and instead of it being relaxing. It just feels empty.
 
This is loneliness.
 
We don’t talk about what it feels like to be lonely. I think we can be lonely even in the midst of being around people. Even if you don’t have kids, recognizing when you feel “other” and apart is valuable. Asking yourself, what is missing?
 

Loneliness is a signal that you can introduce a new way of being.
  

When you’re a SAHM, whose kids are now all in school – this is a new way of being.
When they go to college…
When you move to a new city…
When a relationship ends…
When you start a new job…
When you join a new organization…
there can be loneliness in these changes, as you figure out what you want the experience to be.
 
A new way of being demands that you re-orient yourself. Your inputs have changed and usually that means how you spend your time changes.
 

Welcome it as an opportunity to bring more joy into your life.  How can you do this?

 
FUN
What do you do for fun that does NOT involve your kids (if you have them); require wine; or is something you “should” be doing? It doesn’t have to make sense or be productive. For example, I like writing, doing yoga, taking pictures of vegetables, music, being in nature, going to Toastmasters, reading poems, working out… these aren’t checklists in a day, they’re things that make me happy inside and crowd out loneliness. Read more here: https://laurakharris.com/what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up/
 
LAUGHTER
My kids make me laugh a lot. Yes, I get frustrated and angry at them, they’re not perfect, but they’re funny. When will you laugh today? For those of us not in an office or going somewhere surrounded by other people, there can be a lot of solitude, which can be restorative, but also boring.
 
Maybe you’re not 100% an extrovert, but everyone benefits from laughing throughout the day. I can’t tell you how to make this happen, but be mindful of how much — or how little — you’re smiling.
 
PRODUCTIVITY
This is a tricky one. There’s a difference between being intentionally productive and putting so much on your to-do list that you’re busy, crabby and numbing out. Being busy is a form of hiding pain or sadness. It is good to feel that you are contributing, but you must separate your value as a human being from the value you provide as the person who runs your household or is good at your job. You are NOT your to do list. You are NOT your work.
 
Trust me when I say, YOU can stop and smell the proverbial roses. If you need to, schedule in fun. My mom and I have Sparkle Day every month on the same day because we found that we were “too busy” to hang out together if we didn’t plan it.
 
MOVEMENT
I don’t care what this means for you – walking, dancing, running, skipping, prancercise (https://youtu.be/o-50GjySwew — see bullet point above about laughter). Give yourself both time to feel the melancholy, but also get out and move. You need those endorphins now more than ever.
 
CURIOSITY
Any time something changes in your life, see it as a chance to be curious in a non-judgmental way about yourself. The cool thing about change is that it’s a chance to make your life more of what you want it to be.  Check out this post, if that’s where you’re at: https://laurakharris.com/are-you-trying-to-figure-it-all-out/
 
After I get my kids on the bus, I have a ritual of playing the Marshmello song, “I’m so alone” and getting in a good cry. I’m able to recognize that I’m going to be lonely without them around. I’m not afraid of it though because I know that I’m not “stuck” there.
 
I’ve already introduced new ways of being that feel so good.
 
You are worthy of that, too.
 
Many hugs,
Laura
 
P.S.
This photo was taken at Benifit Fitness where we did personal training this summer together. I’ll never forget when my oldest helped me countdown on my last tricep dips or when he figured out how to do a proper deadlift and when my youngest scaled the rock wall! I’m so thankful for the great workouts and the chance to do something together. If you’re looking for personal training, definitely talk to them.   
 
This is my favorite writing about motherhood (have a Kleenex, ok?)
http://annaquindlen.net/goodbye-dr-spock/
 
My own poem:
 
ON MOTHERHOOD
It’s a tug like no other;
although they cut the chord,
supposedly
 
In many ways, it’s still there.
 
It’s more than responsibility
It’s more than love
It’s like a whole universe exists in your heart
 
And you watch it walk
around and away from you
but needing you; requiring you to
constantly recalibrate
how much to give, control or
nudge toward freedom.

Being a mama makes you
both powerful and weak
in the same breath.
 
You can lose yourself in it —
in them.
Their laughter. Their voices. Their wants.
 
Motherhood does make you special because
they will forever see you
that way.
 
The tug for me…
magical
emotional
and so totally
pure.
 
Regardless of the reality of smart aleck remarks and endless dirty socks.
 
Their eyes make me feel as though I am the sun.

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