Waking the Walker

A mother's quest to survive her son's "zombie" years – aka his teens.

Tag: Single Parenting

Adjusting To My NEW Norm


Now that my Son is officially at college, my nest is very empty. With it just me at home, it’s really sinking in that I’m by myself.

This is a norm I have never experienced. I have been single most of my life, but I have always had a “roommate” whether it is family, partner or actual roommate.

This is a norm that will take more time to adjust to than I ever imagined. 

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For 18 years and 8 months, my daily routine revolved around my work schedule and my Son’s schedules; whether it be daycare, school, extra-curricular or work over the Summer.

Only having to deal with my schedule feels very strange.

This time of year was always our craziest too because of marching band/football season. Not having that is like putting salt into a gaping wound.

I have helped out at the football games as a means to get out of the house, but it’s just not the same without my Son in the band.

Again, it’s the gaping wound.

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But Really, What ARE You Feeling?


Over the course of the past couple months I’ve spent a lot time expressing the emotional roller coaster I’m feeling in regards to my Son heading off to college this month.

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This is an extremely challenging time because I’m excited for my Son to step into his own, but at the same time fearful because it’s all new for him.

Plus, facing the reality of an empty house can be a bit much to bear some days.

In order to ease this transition, I have been doing my best to process my emotions as they roll over me, and been open and forthcoming about all of them, knowing that keeping them bottled up will make dropping my Son off at college even harder.

My Son on the other hand has been very closed mouth. I figured by early August he’d be expressing some emotions regarding his new adventure, but I only recently found out from a friend that he is indeed anxious, especially about meeting his roommate, and believe it not, worried about me being alone.

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Finding out he’s anxious didn’t surprise me. Who wouldn’t be, it’s all new. Everything about his life will change.

But finding out he’s concerned about leaving me alone surprised me. I was touched, but it made me realize I need to make an effort to get him to express these emotions to me so I can assure him Mom will be fine, and so will he.

At about the two weeks out mark, I commented, “You do realize there’s only two weeks till we move you to college, right?”

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Home for Dinner


With the extremely busy schedules most families have today, sitting down to dinner, as a family is becoming a thing of the past. It’s actually more of a luxury when it happens. For many, dinner is grabbing fast food on the fly between practices, games, school events and lessons of some sort.

Growing up, my mother made sure there was a home-cooked meal every night, and we all sat down to eat dinner together as a family. Granted, this was in the sixties and seventies and we did not have the insane schedules most families have today, but my Mom was a single Mom who worked full-time.

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That in itself was somewhat rare for that time period, but my father passed away when I was three, and with five additional siblings, ranging in age from 18 month to early 20’s, my Mom had no other option but to get back into the work force. Thank goodness she had a nursing degree to fall back on.

So, for me, a single Mom who works full-time and cooks dinner every night was the norm. This is why I believe I am hardwired to be that way. Eating out, even fast food is and was a treat, not a common thing.

Even during our hectic marching band season through out my Son’s high school years, I would juggle my work schedule so I could be home on a Friday with enough time to heat up leftovers so my Son and I could eat together before we went to the stadium. I would calculate what I would cook earlier in the week so there would be enough for Friday night. Sometimes I’d supplement with some frozen food, but the bulk was home-cooked warm-ups.

Having that time together, no matter how brief, was and still is important to me.

Home for Dinner

My Son and I may be going in a million directions all day, but come dinnertime, we put everything on pause. We don’t answer the phone unless we know it’s important. Eating dinner together is a way to play catch-up after a day apart. 

As my Son has grown, and become more vocal about life in general, this has become the best part of my day. That’s why I get upset when he drags his feet coming to the dinner table because he’s caught up on something on his computer. Mostly gaming, which can infuriate me even more, but as long as we have time together at the end of the day, I let it slide, sort of.

Now that he’s working, I truly appreciate the nights he will be home for dinner. He has no regular schedule, so when he gets a day shift or a night off, I’m thrilled.

Even if I am still putting up with the feet dragging and late arrival for dinner, he’s home for dinner with Mom, something that will be a rarity when he heads off to college in August.

Being so programmed to pre-plan meals to work around my Son’s schedule, I’m quite sure I’ll feel lost the first couple months when I only need to worry about me.

It’s already evident the nights he works. Only having to plan a meal for me isn’t quite the same.

I am however using these nights as a means to mentally and emotionally prepare for dinner for one.

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There are many things I will have to adjust to when my Son is away at college, but eating alone will be one of the toughest adjustments.

Dinner has always been our time together. Not having him across the table from me will be a constant reminder that I am now an empty nester.

Granted, I can try to look at the positives that come with my son away at college. Like my food bills will be drastically less, and if I don’t want to cook, I won’t have to, but right now those things aren’t enough to balance the scales.

With time though, I know I will adjust, but I also know I will be looking forward to every visit home my Son will get, just knowing that he will be home for dinner will bring me great joy.

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© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2018. All rights reserved.

Old Days – Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_dinkoobraz’>dinkoobraz / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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SEASON OF TRANSITION


With high school graduation now behind us, my Son and I took some time to relax and reflect on “Days Gone Bye” and roads yet to travel.

The best place for that in my book is the beach. Breathing in the sea air with sand between my toes is the best decompression therapy out there.

Our beach of choice for this trip was Ocean City, Maryland. The town where I met my Son’s Father and the place of my Son’s birth.

When my Son was little we would come back every year, but over time we migrated further north to Bethany Beach. And some years we didn’t even make it to the beach, choosing other locations for a Summer vacation, like Georgia for our TWD Roadtrips.

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https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/our-twd-summer-road-trip-2017-edition/

This year, considering where we have come from and where we are headed, I felt it was extremely fitting we go back to OCMD. Having lived and work there for three years, I have many fond memories beyond the obvious romance with my Son’s father and subsequent birth of our amazing Son.

This place will always hold a special place in my heart. How could it not?

When I moved to OCMD, I was single and starting over after a divorce. I knew no one, but I knew OCMD was where I was meant to be. My move was most definitely divinely guided.

Of course at the time I had no idea why. Now it’s quite obvious.

When my Son was born, he became the center of my universe, especially after we lost his Father when my Son was only 3 years old. My wants and needs became secondary. All that mattered was my Son’s health, welfare and happiness.

Over the years we’ve certainly seen our share of ups and downs, as documented in this blog, but it’s those challenges and rewards that made our bond stronger.

As with all children, as they grow into their own, and make friends, their parents start to take a backseat, so having a week with my Son all to myself was something I was very much looking forward to.

As they say in the Visa commercial, it was priceless.

By August he will be headed off to college and I will be flying solo, again.

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In between now and then, he will be working his Summer job at an amusement park, and based on the shifts he’s been getting thus far, will more than likely be working a lot of nights, which means we won’t see much of each other. So it just makes the week at the beach, just the two of us, even more special.

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