We are so happy to welcome this month’s Be Our Guest blogger Kelly Kardos. I was first drawn to her luminous images of monarch butterflies and luscious food and travel photographs.
Kelly has just retired and is testing out her wings as a recent empty -nester navigating through her new and very different role as a wife and mother. She’s taken to her travel journal — tearing, gluing, and drawing bits of memories from her day-to-day life as well as her travels. She revels in time spent baking, working out regularly, and volunteering at the school she just left after 17 years. You can find her on Instagram @kellykardos.
I’m a planner. That’s not to say I can’t be spontaneous, but for the most part I like to plan — to cover as many bases in order to project a predictable outcome. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I planned years in advance for the inevitable empty nest syndrome. I had heard and read all sorts of horror stories about the subject. A lot of marriages end in divorce after the last child leaves the house. I didn’t want to be a statistic when our youngest left the nest. When your last child leaves home, you realize its you and your better half. The only question left is, “Who is this person?”
I was a very involved mom with Austin. I volunteered as a room mom while he was in elementary school which eventually led to a part-time job at his school which lasted 15 years. I read to him every night until 3rd grade when I wasn’t reading Harry Potter “fast enough.” I was at every Tai Kwon Do belt test, swim meet, award ceremony, and Civil Air Patrol meeting until he got his drivers license. We stayed connected by having dinner as a family every night, and had yearly treasured family vacations. My husband and I started “date night” on Wednesdays where we kept our couple connection, a ritual we keep to this very day. My husband had his hobbies and I took up photography and purchased my first DSLR camera when Austin entered high school to keep me busy beyond the empty nest.
Honestly, such good planning.
Even the best laid plans can fall short as I discovered this past February. Austin’s time had come to test his wings for the first time. One day he was home and then he was off to the Naval Station Great Lakes to go through boot camp. Life had changed in a blink of an eye. Even with all my planning I was unprepared for the emotional trauma of having the last child leave the nest. Dare I say, I likened it to a death. My heart was grief-stricken and shattered into a thousand pieces. Those first few days were foggy and seen through tears that flowed non-stop. To make matters worse, the recruits were stripped of their cell phones. There was one 30-second phone call to say he had arrived safely and would write when he could…then click. Silence – – deafening silence. Being incommunicado after 22 years was like rubbing salt to the wound.
I am ten months into this transition and constantly navigating trying to establish a new kind of relationship with the child I used to know with man he has become. No plans, just winging it.
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See you soon.