So…. It’s Spring. Spring of 2018, the weather in New England may not be saying so, but the calendar indeed does. Spring is a marked time for new beginnings, a time to launch into our days with renewed energy and vitality after a long winter. This has always been the time of year that I break free of my own version of winter hibernation and begin to stretch. With warmer weather and longer days it feels natural to begin to feel and think “brighter”.
My two youngest children have been away at college and will return home for summer in 2 weeks time. Our daughter is half way through her junior year and our youngest son is completing his freshman year. If you’ve read my earlier posts you would know that this was my husband and I’s dreaded year of “empty nesting”. A major shift in our family dynamic, one of which has been shifting since our oldest son left for college over 6 years ago. He has completed his college degree and has found a career path that he is delighted in.
We had a big celebration weekend this past weekend for our daughter’s 21st Birthday…WOW! What a milestone! We are enjoying our adult children so very much! With family time for us come discussion time…
We have been well aware that our two younger children have not found college to be as exciting and rewarding as our oldest son did. It has been a struggle. Our daughter in three years time has taken a semester off, transferred schools and is still just not feeling happy with her experience there. She has made some good friends but often feels surrounded by negativity and feels she has no escape. Campus life just has not been fulfilling or rewarding for her. Our youngest son never really knew if college was right for him, he would throw around different ideas when he was in high school and not fully deciding on going to college until end of his junior year. He had mentored at our local elementary school as a Phys Ed teacher and decided to pursue that path. College courses have proven difficult for him leaving him with feelings of frustration and often feeling like a failure. They have both shared with us that they do not want to return to college in the Fall.
This did not come as much of a surprise. My husband and I have wondered if spending the money for them to just go through the motions and not feel fulfilled is the right thing for them anyhow. The feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction they’ve shared throughout their journey has left us to feel this may be best as well. Our daughter has decided she will finish her degree online while working at building her new dog business. She has a passion for dogs and has run her own dog walking business for a couple summers and would like to grow her business into something more. She gets excited when she talks about this and it is clear it is the path she will follow for now just not knowing what’s around the corners up ahead.
This leads me to our daughter’s anxiety and depression. It has flared up terribly in the last few months. I do feel a lot of it has to do with her age and not being able to “see” where she is headed, or what is around the next corner. She is very often in a very heightened state of stress. She has battled with autoimmunity with unexplained body rashes, sicknesses that can’t be explained, such as severely inflamed throat and fevers that test negative to strep or mono (she has been tested many times over the last 3 years) … it is always a result of high white blood cell count showing her body is fighting infection but no illness per se. This is very unsettling. A lot of what I have seen happening (sickness, weight gain, anxiety, depression, etc) all seem to point in the direction of her gut health. She has taken antibiotics over the years for these illnesses and I feel she may be way off in her gut chemistry. My mission now is to get her home and begin healthy eating with the addition of prebiotics and probiotics and hope to get her back on track with her health and see if her other health issues iron themselves out.
Our son has also battled with major anxiety. He was diagnosed with a mild form of OCD with his anxiety last summer. My children do not “present” themselves as having these illnesses, they have always been active community members, good students and were top athletes in the sports programs they’ve been a part of. Most of my friends do not even know we battle the way we do with these everyday struggles. I don’t know that I am necessarily keeping it a “secret” it’s just that often I just don’t feel like it is my place to tell their story. It is their path, their journey and they should be able to tell it as they see it and as they wish when the time is right for them. I have chosen to tell my own story of anxiety at the age of 46.
So here we are… Spring… new beginnings. My son wants to travel, he wants to experience life! Our daughter wants to also travel, she talks about jumping on a plane and heading out to some sort of conference or dog trade shows… they are ready to “fly” in different ways. One thing I can say with sincere positivity is they will be okay…. they struggle today because they are so in-tune with their inner selves that they feel everything… they want answers for what feels unsettling. They are not drowning out what this feels like with drugs and alcohol, and to be perfectly honest with the decisions to not be on a college campus right now, I am clear that they don’t like seeing others doing this either. I am proud of them and we support their journey!
“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.“ – Arthur Ashe