Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Folk Hearts

     I had a sentimental moment the other day ~ an inexplicable outbreak of tears while listening to my favorite radio station, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio. Some of you are NPR fans familiar with programs like "This American Life" and "Prairie Home Companion." It would be perfectly understandable for Ira Glass or Garrison Keillor to evoke an emotional response. But I was listening to "Car Talk" ~ a call in show dealing with auto maintenance (I have no interest in cars or maintaining them, but the show is pretty amusing).
     A woman called in, asking for advice on upgrading her van. Hosts Tom and Ray inquired about the size of her family and what features she wanted in a new vehicle. She had a 19 year old daughter who was away at college and a 17 year old son in high school. When the hosts replied that she could get by with a smaller van because her daughter was gone and wouldn't be coming back home and that her son wasn't far behind, I just lost it.
     Hearing my sobs, my husband brought me kleenex and asked what the heck was wrong. I was so choked up that I could barely answer. I kind of gasped that I was having an emotional moment about the boys (he kind of rolled his eyes and made a quick exit).
     For the past couple years, I've been mentally preparing myself for the "empty nest." We've raised our sons to be independent and have encouraged their decisions to pursue their passions, to attend college far from home, to travel abroad, to spend time with girlfriends and their families. We don't want to hold them back. The best thing they can do for us is learn to take care of themselves. It's time. I understand that ~ intellectually. Emotionally, however, I need some convincing.
     Perhaps my health scare has made me more sensitive and needy. Maybe my hormones are out of whack or I need a stronger antidepressant. It's possible that random acts of violence in schools and on college campuses (including a murder at my son's university just this week) have heightened my sense of helplessness and vulnerability. Please, all you empty nesters out there ~ tell me this gets easier!
     This is the last of my heart quilts, made to teach hand applique. It incorporates lots of techniques for preparing the hearts: plastic templates, freezer paper, fusible web, basting around cardstock templates, cutting directly from fabric. It also uses different methods for stitching hearts: needleturn, buttonhole stitch, reverse applique. The quilting is done with perle cotton.


  1. What a lovely quilt. Sorry I have no words of wisdom about your empty nesting, but I bet you'll get through it just fine.

    I love Car Talk too.

  2. I love this quilt. And thanks for sharing your story.

    Another car talk fan here and I haven't even driven in years (living in cities with great public transport).

  3. As an empty nester myself (single parent since he was 4, just the two of us plus 2 cats...) I completely understand how you feel. It is completely natural and normal to mourn when you children leave the nest. All I can tell you is to get your goodnight hugs and kisses while you can, and enjoy every single moment of every single day, because the time will come when you won't get that unstructured infinite amount of time to talk, relax, and enjoy. Once they move out it's completely different. On the other hand, watching them make decisions on their own, and seeing the friends they make, will tell you if you've done a good job.

    So now, when they ask you, "Hey Ma, would you like to..." make sure you say Yes.

    Letting my son go was absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. I was absolutely terrible about it at first. But he dealt with my anxieties with grace, humor, and love, and I knew I had raised him properly.

    He never forgets me, and we go out on "dates." It's fun. He picks me up, helps me with my coat, and opens every door. He even picks up the tab at the restaurant.

    My mom once told me, "He will go, but he will never go AWAY." Have courage, and relax; you're a Mom. It's your job to feel this way.

    Now your job is to keep your arms open, so whenever they needs you (and they will!) you will be ready.

    Of course, I still have a hard time buying only one gallon of milk a week, and he's been out of the house now for two years....

    (I came from Tonya's, btw)

  4. Well, our son just graduated college this weekend...so I can totally empathize about this post! He is a wonderfully, independent, self-sufficient person who cares about other people, so I guess we did OK. But...each time our car rolls away from his apartment, I cry and sob for about 30 minutes...then I am OK! It is hard because he lives away from us, another city 3 hours away. I can only echo the advice from above, just enjoy each hug, each moment of quiet talk...because they are treasures!