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Let the Next Mantra Begin

April 4, 2014

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It's been a week of variables, in weather and moods, and what's for dinner. We're still in comfort food mode, and I've made white chicken chili this week, and a cheesy hotdish, and I'm thinking about a pan of enchiladas for tomorrow. We've had a few warmer sunny days lately, but the snow falls as I write and it seems the drive will be full of snow soon. "Shovel-able" snow, they say. Which is how I would describe the pile of scholarship applications, letters of recommendations, copies of transcripts and essays, college information, and stamped envelopes on the work counter in the kitchen. Shovel-able.

Not a complaint, mind you. It's simply that time of year when young people heading off to
college in the fall are swimming through requests for this and that, a stream at first and then a flood, and by the time it's all said and done for our son, it will be September and he'll be in college, and there will be one young person at home, the youngest, and it won't be long before the paper flow begins again.

When people talk about Empty Nest Syndrome, the general tone is not one of joyful exuberance. An empty nest implies silence, loneliness perhaps, maybe a "what now" kind of feeling. I get it. I miss the kids when they're away, and there will be days once the youngest leaves when things feel dark and silent. There are days like that now, on occasion, with the first having taken flight.

But this is the way of things. A child is supposed to leave home. A child heading off to college is a bonus, The Big Payoff in ways for eighteen years of wonderfully exhausting parenting. You spent all those years supporting, loving, lifting, feeding, reprimanding, encouraging, listening...and reminding: You Can Do Anything You Want to Do if You Set Your Mind to It. It's true. And then they're gone.

But your life isn't over then; things are simply shifting. They'll come back. You're their
parents; you are home. The trick is to remember, in the midst of the papers and graduation parties and packing and goodbyes and phone calls and homesickness, that you have your own life. You set your mind once, long ago, to raising children, and you did it. And now? Let the next mantra begin. Ask yourself how you want to live, and then set about it. Make a craft room out of one of the kids' rooms and start up a business. Take dancing lessons. Fly to New Zealand for a week. Write that book. Drive out to the Grand Canyon. Have mushrooms for dinner. Get a job doing something you always wanted to do but couldn't because it didn't pay well. Learn carpentry and build yourself a bookshelf and fill it with all the books you've wanted to read but couldn't, because you were busy living the life of raising children so they might live their own. And they will.

My search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie will continue for as long as I live. Thank
goodness there are far more recipes for chocolate chip cookies than Eskimo words for snow, because I aim to try 'em all. One recipe at a time.

Donna's Light and Puffy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup shortening
1 cup oil
Beat together

Add 2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 tsp soda
4 tsp cream of tartar
4¼ cups flour
2 cups choc chips

Bake at 350 on foil lined cookie sheets, 8-10 minutes or until they reach your preferred level of doneness.

Enjoy!

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