Are You Prepared to Parent Older Children?

February 28, 2024

Julie [00:00:01]:
Welcome back to the Crank It Up podcast. Today, I’ve got my friend, Jenny Carpenter, back with me.

She’s kind of like my partner in crime on these podcasts some days, and we are talking about what you need to know if you are the parent of an older child, shall we say. Maybe not fully grown up, but they’re an older child.

And I’m sharing some of the tips and the wisdom, hard earned wisdom, and experiences that I am living through literally right now and advice that I got back in the day when I was young before my kids were grown ups that has helped me still to this day, advice that I think can help you, stuff that I wish I had known.

Beyond the Empty Nest: Embracing Parenthood’s Later Stages

And, listen, even if you are not a parent of a grown up, I think this will help you navigate any transition in life because, you know, all transitions have a messy middle. Right? They have a beginning, a middle, and sort of the other side of it, and it can be a long time till we get to the other side of it.

And I don’t know about you, but I’ll take all the wisdom and all the mentoring that I can get to help me get to the other side of it. And then I wanna turn around and share all that wisdom with anyone who is yet to walk through that season. So that’s what I hope this episode does.

I think you’ll like it. Sit back. Maybe take some notes. And if you find that it connects with you in some way, I’d love to know. I’d love it if you leave a review, and I’d love for you to share it.

Today, we’re talking about something that, of course, is near and dear to my heart, something I’m going through. A lot of people I’ve been talking to are kind of getting to this place. Even you are starting to see that kind of looming on the horizon, and that is parenting older children. Done. Yes.

Something should happen there because, I mean, it’s a whole real thing. And what I have discovered is that people don’t talk about it. And by people, I mean women.

Women don’t talk about it and sometimes when they’re talking about it, it can be perceived as complaining, and sometimes they are complaining maybe because they don’t know how to communicate about it because no one really talks about it.

And when you think about if you have children who are older or they’re getting to that place and you think about it, I think about even when Jenna went our oldest went to college for the first time.

What conversations revolve around? They revolve around how your child is doing. So people ask you how your child is doing, but no one ever asks how the mom is doing. And I also really realized last week or the other I don’t even know why.

Oh, it was because my husband’s brother was here, and we were having this conversation because his girls are older too. And I realized no one also asks about the dad. So if it’s a mom and dad, you know, relationship, no one asks about the mom but no one’s also asking about JD, which I think is so interesting. So I do think it’s a more heavily dominant female, of course, but yes.

I was interested that both JD and his brother are kinda going through the same thing, but no one ever asked the men about it either.

So, anyway, we’re gonna talk about some of this transitional stuff that’s happening as we’re moving into life with older children.

Jenny [00:03:54]:
Well, it is so crazy because, I mean, think back to for ages, ages and ages, the amount of books and material for what to expect when you’re expecting and what to do the 1st year and, like, sleep you know, so many books on Everything. Younger, everything.

And then you’re discovering where’s my playbook for this season of life, and, like, it doesn’t exist. Or even more so what you’re finding with some of the resources, which we’ll get to, is you are finding some, and they’re primarily written by the man.

Julie [00:04:32]:
Yeah. Not by the mom. Yes. Which has been interesting.

Jenny [00:04:35]:
So there’s so many layers to this, Julie. So many layers. Many layers.

The Challenge of Finding A New Purpose When You’re The Parent of Adult Children

Julie [00:04:39]:
Yes. You are right. Because as I found myself getting into this, which I’m gonna be honest with you and you well know, Jenny, because you’ve kinda been all this dirty with me.

Like, you literally hit me smack in the face, and I was woefully unprepared for how it was gonna feel to move into this real official transition of children out of the house, making their own money and making their own decisions, which do not require your permission or your input, which is rude actually.

And, I was woefully unprepared for it. And when I started doing research to your point and try to find it because that’s my first go to is, okay. Let me get the books. Let me get the books.

Let me figure this out and found that there were, like, two books out there. And it really was infuriating, honestly, because to your point again, when I think about all the books I read up to this point about parenting, and then you think about the years that go into each season of parenting.

The difficulties and biases encountered in parenting as children grow and gain independence

So your child’s a toddler for three years, two, three, four, maybe? And then they’re a middle schooler for a couple years, and then they’re a high schooler for 4 years. However, they are a grown up human being for the majority. Yes. Most of their life, for the majority of the time that you’re a grown up human being.

That’s the majority of the time that you’re parenting. And so the fact that there’s little to no resources, tools, anything out there, I’ve really had to do some digging.

And now I’ve uncovered more as I’ve continued on this quest. And, of course, I’ve been told that I should write the book since there is no book out there.

You know, well, I need to. We’ll get there. Yeah. I need to actually get through this before I write this down. A little bit more before we’re the expert. But there really isn’t that much out there. So you are kinda figuring it out on your own, and I have found that women don’t necessarily talk about this.

So what is interesting too is, I think, tied in with this rise in conversation around menopause and hormone health and just women’s health in general because our culture is shifting because we are living longer.

And so this midlife season is longer and women are actually talking about their health and their hormone health and menopause in more natural conversations.

I’m hopeful that we’ll also start talking about the emotional health of the female that happens because it sort of feels like the ground has shifted underneath you. And Yeah. You are now trying to get your footing in this new life that you I just think for most of us, we’re unprepared for.

Jenny [00:07:35]:
We are. Absolutely. And it was funny. I just saw a quote today that was, like, perfect for our conversation. So I’m gonna read it to you real quick. Because part of me had the, like, aww. And then part of me had the, how rude.

But it says,

Our children’s independence is a reminder of how much we had to give and all that we have accomplished. It is a pleasure to remember that it is not a form of abandonment, but an expression of a job well done.

And part of me was like, oh, that is kinda cool. And then part of you is like, well, now what? Like, so you did so they’re saying yes, yes, on so many levels. But, you’re saying, okay. So I did my job. So now what? Now what’s my job?

You and I have had many conversations about this next generation of young adults. Totally different than anything that’s I mean, we all are always totally different from the generation that comes before us. But, like, this one in a different way in that for yourself, say your generation is…

You very much came from the… you grow up. You go to school, you know, maybe still. Then, you get married. You have babies. Those kids grow up. And before you even have a chance to think as a mother, what is my next step? You’re a grandma. You’re or you’re planning for a wedding and now you’re grandma.

Now we are seeing a different trend where there’s this gap between mom and grandma. Because mom and grandma do have similar type responsibilities that you’re like, oh, I have a role. I know what my role

Julie [00:09:13]:
I have a job. I have an opportunity.

Jenny [00:09:15]:
There’s this in between or maybe you never you never are a grandmother, which is also totally fine. But, like, this new this blank space, baby, and we don’t know. We’re not really sure what to write in there.

So we can write it ourselves, which means you’re the trailblazers.  And that’s why there’s no material about this because it went from pregnancy books, how to raise your kids, to how to be a great grandma.

Generational Differences, Impact of Technology on Parenting

Julie [00:09:36]:
Yep. That’s true. And I think that we, our generation, you know, this midlife generation is so vastly different from our parents. And I know my parents had me when they were older so that I know that that plays into it a little bit for me as well.

But I think if you go back, I do think that previous generations have had more similarities than what my generation, gen x, and then moving into millennials and gen z, and then whatever it’s after that. I don’t know what it’s called.

Because we did grow up… not I guess grow up like as parents what, you know, kind of with social media starting to come in about like, I can remember I had a bag phone, you know, like the first version of a phone In the car.

In your car. Yep. Plugged into your, you know, back then a cigarette lighter. Like, what the what? And that but I was, like, 22 or 23. And so then for the rest of my grown up life, like, I have always had something like that in my hands.

And then social media and how much technology has advanced, that is very different from our parents, our grandparents, whatever, they certainly have their innovations and their advancements and all of that, but I think technology has made this generation And connectedness. Yes. It’s just very, very different.

Okay. So now take that times like a 1000 because my children grew up very digitally native. They don’t know a world without smartphones. They don’t know a world where they can’t know what is happening across the planet.

They don’t know a world like that. And I didn’t grow up that way. I grew up in my tiny little town of 1200 that still doesn’t have a stoplight in it, you know? So it’s this whole it’s a new generation parenting a new generation and no wonder we’re all like what the freak is happening?

We don’t even know we can’t keep up and there isn’t there just isn’t information out there, I think, because people haven’t done it before.

As our children’s independence blooms, it’s crucial for us as parents to cultivate our own lives. Finding joy in the “empty nest” begins with nurturing our personal growth and dreams.

Jenny [00:11:38]:
You’re right. It’s also enhanced because when we were well, I would have had a cell phone when I was, say, like, your daughter’s age. But it wasn’t this instant being able to still, like, instantly communicate or the expectation of instant communication.

Where now from the time, if you choose to let your child… when and if you choose to let your child have a cell phone or a watch or whatever, we’re so used to instant gratification in the sense of, how are you? How are you feeling? What’s going on in your life?

And, like you said, there comes a point in that obviously, something else I saw too. Like, maybe the teenage years are supposed to be the natural progression to helping you let go a little bit.

Julie [00:12:22]:
Because there’s suppression there.

Jenny [00:12:24]:
Because they’re fine. They’re good. That’s all that’s the difference you’re gonna get.

But, like you know, so it does start to lessen where it’s not that, like, immediate, like, thing, but I think that has something to play with it too, why it’s so much harder when all of a sudden you’re like, oh, well, we haven’t I haven’t heard from you. Why not?

Traveling With Adult Children: Managing Responsibilities and Independence

Julie [00:12:40]:
Yeah. It’s just a weird shift. And, I’m learning as I go different pieces that they need to get more fully into being recognized. And by recognized not by the world, but by us, by the parents, you know, recognized as grown up humans.

So when we were in Hong Kong, one of the pieces that I noticed was specific to my husband. It was not for me. I didn’t care about it, but my this was a piece that I as I watched, I’m like, oh, this is a piece for him that is challenging to his identity to step fully into being this parent of grown ups, and it was calling the Uber or using the Google map and knowing where we were going. And the girls clearly use Uber all the time.

They’re on Google Maps all the time. Jesse lives in Hong Kong. She knows where she’s going. So they knew everything that was happening, and I was perfectly content to just go along for the ride and just get the Uber, do whatever.

And he was very much like, wait a minute, where are we going? What’s happening? And let me see the map and what’s the Uber and what’s the license plate and da da da.

And it took me a couple times for that to happen to go, oh, because as the dad, his role has been to be in charge of the logistics, in charge of all of this, and now he’s not and this is hard for him. Like, this is his transition piece.

And I thought that was so interesting because I think each parent has something different that is a challenge for them.

Jenny [00:14:18]:
Well, there’s two parts that I thought of when you were talking about that. And the first is, like you said, each parent has their own. Is that, like, we don’t realize we all have it’s not an invisible bias.

I can’t think of the right term, but, like, we have biases ingrained in us that we don’t know and we don’t we’re not necessarily aware of.

And so like you said, his bias of, like, my role in this is I didn’t realize that that was important to me.  It brings me… that’s one of the things I wanted to ask you is that I love the phrase like, the first time I heard this, I was like, oh my gosh. Where it was, like, adults taking their young children on what was supposed to be called a vacation.

And they’re like, no. No. Going away from home with your young children is not a vacation. It’s called the trip. We’re going on a trip.

That’s true. Or an adventure, an experience. You know? It’s not a vacation. 

So that I was very curious, unpacking that with you a little bit more. It’s like so now you did go on a vacation With your children, but they were adults. Talk us through like you said, you just mentioned JD a little bit and him doing that, but, yeah, how did… who’s planning the trip? Who’s in charge of logistics? You were actually going to a place that someone lives there.

Who’s the youngest of the family sword there in charge? Explain that. Like, how did that go?

Let Adult Children Take the Lead and Recognize Their Independence

Julie [00:15:56]:
The piece that I learned when we were there was really interesting for me to learn. So, again, you have to unpack some of the layers. So my love language is gift giving. That’s what I do to show affection, appreciation, loyalty, whatever like that is my love language is gift giving.

And even as they’ve gotten older, it might not be gifts. Maybe it’s a gift card here, there, but still last week I sent off packages. You know, like, that’s just what I do. I’m a gift giver.

And I’ve always been the one to plan the trips. You think my husband planned trips? Hell no. No.

Let’s take him out of the equation. I’ve always been the one to plan all the logistics. I think that if you’re in a male, female marriage, probably most women can relate to that, that they’re probably the ones that are planning the trips and doing the logistics of it.

And I’ve always been the one to work on the financial end of it too. You know? Working with our accountant, Emily. This is when we’re paying for this and, you know, just all the budgeting, all that kind of stuff. And so when we got ready to go to Hong Kong, I told the girls, you take care of your flights. I’ll take care of everything else.

This will be my Christmas present to you. You don’t need any more stuff. I got Hong Kong. You know? And they’re like, okay. Cool. Cool.

So that way, I could also get whatever hotel I wanted because, you know, it’s a different kind of hotel at 25 than it is at my age, and I have a little higher standards and we’re just totally fine, which is totally fine.

So I’m like, I’ll take care of that. And so in my head, I’m really budgeting and planning that I’m really paying for everything else when we get over there. And when we got over there, at one point, we were doing something and Jenna and Josie both said, well, I wanna get dinner tonight. And I’m like, oh my God. No. No.

No. No. No. I was I was so like, what? What? They’re like, no. I wanna get dinner tonight. I wanna do this. I wanna say thank you and blah blah blah blah.

So they did and it was I’m like, this is kind of interesting and amazing. I’m not really sure what to think about it. And I had to stop and go, this is their way of signaling

That they’re grown ups. They because I even said, I’m like, but I wanna do this. Like, the I that wasn’t the deal, you know, whatever. They’re like, mom, we budgeted for this. We said yes to this. We didn’t come over here thinking that you were paying for all of us. We’re grown ups too.

If I don’t let them contribute, it makes them feel like children. It was this a-ha moment for me that they saw a lot of the trip as their gift and they were really grateful for it and we had an awesome time, an awesome time.

But there were these pieces that they wanted to pay for because it was a signal that they’re grown ups too and they could. And it took me a minute to put those two pieces together to really make that connection and then go, oh, like, this is important to them to say they are capable of doing this. Like, there’s a step.

Jenny [00:19:19]:
Capable and just a way of saying thanks. Like, I recently experienced, just with actually, within months of each other. And not that I hadn’t done this before, but two pretty significant things that I did for my mom that were surprises to her, that were I paid for the whole thing and, you know, and got to take her on some really cool experiences.

And she was for me, as the child, it felt really cool to do that because it was a way of saying, like, thank you. I see you, and I appreciate you, and I appreciate you in this season of life.

Like, I get to do this for you in the season of life we’re in now. But it was funny is because come Christmas time.

Of course, I got her a Christmas present. She’s my mom. I got her a Christmas present. And she’s like, I told you you didn’t have to get me a Christmas present because you did blah blah blah for me already. I go, that’s because I wanted to do that for you. That wasn’t in place of. It’s just what I wanted to. So, yes, you’re right.

As a mom, just say, awesome. Thank you. I love you. Thank you for this. Yeah. And just accept it. But like you said, learning to accept the gift.

Julie [00:20:27]:
Learning to accept that and really seeing it as a necessary step for them.

Jenny [00:20:36]:
It’s pivotal for your relationship.

Julie [00:20:36]:
It was pivotal. Yeah. It was. Now certain let’s make no mistake. They were not asking to pay for the hotel room already.

But it’s that little piece. I was like, oh, this is more than just, you know, saying thank you. This is really a kind of a statement on their ability to do that. And if I don’t let them, it’s like I’m saying they’re still children.

And I gotta tell you, it’s fun to travel with older kids. We were walking through Magic Kingdom the other day and listen. My first trip with my girls to the Magic Kingdom, Jenna was 3, Josie was 8 months old.

So and then Jesse when she’s been like, we’ve been going since they’ve been I mean, Josie was 8 months old. You know? So we’ve been doing this thing for a very long time. I’ve pushed those strollers through. We’ve done all the things in any kind of way.

And I saw those strollers the other day. We were walking to Magic Kingdom, and I’m like, listen. I loved every minute of when we were here with the girls. I loved every single bit of it.

And I do not miss pushing that stroller one bit through these crowds.

Oh, the fact that we would like, just going on this trip with people who are like, hey. Let’s do this. Or, hey. When you do this, you wanna go to let’s go take a cycle class. Let’s go to brunch. Let’s go hike this hike, and we could, it was very cool.

Identity shifts as a parent when children move away and lead their own separate lives

Yeah. In terms of logistics, Jesse did a lot. Well, we did a lot of the, like, the Disney piece. You know, here’s our days that we’re going to the park, and then we’ll kinda figure out what we’re doing at the actual park. And then after that, we kinda let Jesse be in charge. She lives there. So we’re like, I think you like this.

I think you like this, like, I think you like this. We’re like, cool.

Jenny [00:22:22]:
And I’ve also, in my family, been the only one that’s not lived close to home. And I have lived a couple of different places since I’ve not lived in Hong Kong. I’ve stayed in the country, but still but but that is also it’s also very cool to have that role reversal because it’s not like them coming to visit you at on I mean, if you’re capable the way to college, they have that experience, but the difference, like, no. This is where I do life. Right.

Like, that’s cool. So it’s cool that for her that she got to kinda show that. And all and and I’m sure your your other girls experience that as well too.

Julie [00:22:56]:
And I think that’s also that that was also a little pivotal moment as well because, you know, I went to college. My husband went to college. So when you go to visit one of them when they were in school, we have some familiarity, we have some understanding of reference of what college is about.

I had no frame of reference for what Hong Kong was gonna be about. So not only are we traveling halfway across the world, not only are we traveling with our grown up children, but we’re also going to a place where I have no frame of reference, but my child does, which is now that’s kinda strange too.

So there’s just all these pieces that I don’t think… I think there it’s kind of finding the delicate balance.

It’s like it dates between not sweeping under the rug these feelings and these, like, realizations and this feeling of your identity shifting and the ground shifting underneath you. Like, not sweeping that under the rug and not downplaying it, and also not acting like your world is ending, you know?

And there is some place in the middle there that you have to kind of figure out and some days you’ll be sad and then other days you’ll be less sad and then other days it will feel like your world’s ending because you can’t figure out what you’re doing. And then other days you’ll be like, this is freaking awesome.

And I just think that’s all sort of part of it, but I don’t it’s not that much different than when your child goes to school, goes to kindergarten, or maybe goes to high school, like those big life transitions. It’s just that they come back home at the end of the day. And in this transition, they don’t.

So you really don’t have any idea what’s happening in their day to day life. I think that’s a challenge.

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Jenny [00:26:01]:
Well, I also heard and I think it was, like, it was a comedian. There was a comedian recently that said, you know, when your kids are growing up, you are around them 365 days a year per se. Like right?

And they said and then once they move out of your house for the rest of their life, you get one more year. If you add it all up for the next, whatever, say, 20, 30 years of their life, you know, for however long we live, hopefully, even longer than that, they’re like, you kinda get one more year with them.

But it’s chunked out, but it’s chunked out. But when you put in that frame of reference, you’re like, oh, dang.

And what I love too so my kids are younger than your kids. But I do have one in high school, one in middle school, one in elementary school, still two. And but it was that realization, when the first when my oldest was in 8th grade knowing, oh, shoot.

Knowing that these next five years are gonna fly by so fast. And so I know I’m grateful for women like you that are taught now starting to talk about it. So thank you for blazing the trail on that because it allows those of us that are in the early stages of mid mid to see something a beacon on the horizon, to be like, okay.

There’s things coming up that might be different and how and kind of preparing ourselves to navigate that.

So I’m curious. If you were looking back, what advice would you have for someone like me in my shoes where it’s not like, oh, my kids are all in college.

That’s not quite you but those who may be parents of high schoolers or maybe they have one in college, but they still have others at home kind of thing, like, say, five years out from the empty nest or whatever. That is one step behind you. Like, what advice would you have for them in that season of life?

Redefining Your Life As a Mom of Adult Children

Julie [00:27:59]:
Well, I have two pieces of advice. And also just a reminder that if your children are in college, you’re not an empty nester yet. So calm down and don’t get all the feels about it yet. I mean, that’s preparation. This is that you’re pre gaming right now. That’s pregame.

Jenny [00:28:14]:
That’s tailgating. You’re tailgating. 

Julie [00:28:15]:
You’re tailgating. It’s cute. You think you are. You get all emo because you don’t know what’s about to come, but I’m just telling you that’s just preparation. So I have two things to say.

One is a piece of advice that I was given by my husband’s head football coach they played for in college and then worked for. And this is before we had children. And she gave it to me as a football coach’s wife, but also just as a woman.

She’s pretty progressive, interestingly, I think, very smart, very Greek. And she said to me early on, you better have something for you. And I took you know, at the time, you take that in sort of as a football coach’s wife. Like, it’s so easy to get just right down that rabbit hole and get swept all of that.

And she said you better have something for you because you’re gonna be alone a lot. You’re actually alone most of the time. And I really took that piece of advice and kinda made it part of who I am.

So I would say to someone who is starting to look at life with children gone, if you have made your children the center of your universe and you don’t have something for you, friend, get to work on getting something for you right this second.

You need to get to work like it’s your freaking job because I have had something for me this entire time. I went from being a high school English teacher to being an entrepreneur that has been the joy and passion of my life.

I have had something for me, and it’s still been hard. So that would be advice number 1, is that you better have something for you.

You and I both know we see it on social media all the time. You see in the fall, you see the parents take their kids to so the moms take their kids to college and they have, you know, a little mentee b, a little mentee breakdown about, oh my God. I am.

I believe they get to college, blah, blah, blah, blah. But then you never see anything about it ever again. No. And no one asks the mom. No one you know? So you have this little mental breakdown when you take your kids to college as if they died and the world has ended, and that’s just simply not the case.

You’ve just taken them to their next stage of life. But if you don’t have something for you, if you’ve just made your life exponentially more hard, and you’ve made it really hard for your child.

The value of therapy and a mindset shift to embrace new parenting dynamics.

And I have done that by going through my own challenges. I have made parts of this harder for my own children, not intentionally, but I have done that. So number my piece of advice number 1, better have something for you so you don’t make it harder for your own child leads into my piece of advice number 2.

As your children get older, they are going to trigger different pieces of your emotional and generational baggage that you may not even be aware that you’re carrying. So I’m gonna tell you right now, if you’re not in therapy, just start it.

Just start it right now because it’s really challenging to navigate the season when you’re in the season and you’re being triggered and this baggage is coming up. And, you know, for me, with all the girls out of the house and my husband retired from football.

So I’ve taken football out of my brain, and I’ve kind of taken that day to day parenting out of my brain at the same time. So that makes a really big dance floor for your crap to come up and tap dance on it. So, you know, it’s like, whoo. We got all kinds of space now.

So much room. So that’s, while they might be having fun in my brain, I was very much not having fun and, that’s when I started therapy and I wish I would’ve started it sooner because we’re all carrying generational baggage.

So to walk through life going, I don’t have any anxiety or I’m not carrying any baggage, you’re lying to yourself. Yes you are. That’s just part of the human experience. And rather than wait till you’re in it and your kids are triggering some of this stuff for you to try to deal with it.

If you can get ahead of the game just a little bit and start to kind of understand, you know, why does this make you uncomfortable? Why is this bothering you? Or what is my identity going to be aside from just being a parent?

If we can start to dive into that and get some tools in your life before it actually happens, that will help the transition so much.

Jenny [00:32:50]:
And to tie those two points back together, because I think the therapy piece is so important in learning how to deal with that. It’s also just having someone else to talk to about this transition so that it’s not your child.

Because I have seen that before too where the parent starts to open up about their struggles to their child, and now the child’s trying to be their therapist.

And, like, try is carrying that and also and with others, it doesn’t even have to be about the child parent relationship just in general where the child is having to help the parent unpack things beyond their expertise.

And so it is very helpful whether, you know, therapy, of course, number 1, and or just don’t have it be your child. Have it be someone else.

Julie [00:33:43]:
And there’s a very different way there is a difference between conversations around why you might be handling something the way you’re handling it or why something makes you uncomfortable. I mean, I’ve had more conversations about all of this stuff with my girls in the last year than I think I’ve had their entire, you know, life.

And some of those conversations are really important because if they don’t know why you’re even what’s even happening in your brain, they’re just like, why is mom weird? Well, you know, this is what’s happening.

This is why. And then they go, oh, and it starts to make a little more sense to them. You’re not asking them to solve it. No.

But to share some of that stuff that, well, this is kinda how I was raised and this is what I felt growing up and this is so this is probably why I’m reacting this way. I’m gonna go, oh.

And also what it helps them do is sometimes remind you that they aren’t you or there aren’t that situation or that we’re in a different time now.

Like or, you know, they’ll say, well, but, mom, you’re not grandma or that’s not gonna happen for us. Did you? I’m like, oh, sometimes you need something, you know. So some of that is that sharing, I think, is important, but you cannot be more right to your point.

Like, you know, Michelle Obama talks about this in her book, The Light We Carry. Your spouse cannot be all the things.

Your children are not all the things. Exactly. Or friends are not all the like, you need a kitchen table full of it like your coaching staff. You know? It’s like for us who speak football language, it’s like your coaching staff.

You know, you need a staff of people where you go and talk about all these things without putting the expectation on one person that they’re supposed to be your be all and end all.

You know, JD isn’t supposed to hear all the stuff that’s happening in my brain, but we can have conversations around it and he can understand it and we can have, you know, cool conversations around it, but it’s also not his job to be my therapist.

Jenny [00:35:39]:
Nope. Yep. I love that. I’ll and I absolutely love that analogy. Like, no one’s no one was designed to be our one and only for all things. Like, that’s why we need community

So much, and we have to be intentional about the people who we do invite to our table, so that they can help us with that. So that’s the advice you’d have for women getting ready to enter the stage.

What about those that are either in the thick of it right now with you and or maybe even farther down the line. Maybe their kids are in their forties. Yeah. But they just haven’t dealt with it yet. Would the advice stay the same? Would you tweak it a little bit? No.

I think there is a sense of urgency?

Julie [00:36:19]:
A little more sense of urgency because when I really understood that the majority of your time is parenting grown ups, I would say this. You know, my husband and I raised our girls very much as parents and not friends.

We were parents with capital p. We’re the ones calling you, like, are you home for the sleepover? And, nope, you can’t have a cell phone till high school. And, like, we were strict parents. We were not friends.

And now comes the time where we can start to shift into more of, I’ll say a consultant role, a consultant role, a mentorship role, a friendship role.

And if you haven’t done that, if you’re still in a parenting role and your children are grown up and married and maybe have their own children and you’re still trying to parent them, that’s problematic.

That’s where you need to get let me go back to advice number 2, therapy. You need to and you get to you get to I’m not saying that’s an easy mindset shift, but I’m saying it is a mindset shift that I think if we can get there is kind of freeing that you get to shift into this new role of sort of being a consultant, being a friend, being being a mentor, being a guide, and not that have you made your bed?

Did you have a budget there? What are you doing? Have you paid off your credit card? Like, I don’t have to do that anymore. And I’m not saying that that’s a 2-sided coin. That’s also hard, but it’s also freeing.

So if you haven’t shifted into that sort of consultant role and your kids are kind of further down the line, it’s time to get there. Time to get there.

Jenny [00:38:09]:
And I’ve also… going back to your point about having something for yourself too, and this reminds me of, like, you know, when we’re talking about I was a mom and now I’m a grandma, like, kind of thing. And now we have this in between or this forever. You know?

And the importance of working to become a whole person that is not dependent on a title. Because I’ve also seen women when they were older and their kids moved out of the house and they’re in this middle space and they don’t know what to do, refuse to do anything with their life or the chance their child might call and need them.

Or, well, what if I’m… I think there you’re perfect’s not the right word, but, like, you do want I mean, how glorious to create a life where you’re like, sure I can come to Hong Kong?

I can create flexibility around that, but not putting your entire life on hold for the chance…hat a phone call rings or and allow and because if you’re just sitting there waiting all the time I mean, think about the angst and anxiety and all that that that creeps in as well too versus, like, you know, I have a life, then I get to help my children.

And I get to maybe be a grandma, or I get to play this role that I want to play, but that’s not my only role. It’s not my only job. I’m still me. And like you say, we’re human beings with goals and dreams. And what does that look like and tapping back into that? You know, it’s so important too.

Julie [00:39:45]:
I think, you know, there’s a lot of things that my mom didn’t quite get right, but there is this one thing that my parents did and some of it had to do because, again, they were older when they had me.

So they had, of course, a little bit more freedom, but we also know, to your point, older human beings who are very set in their ways and won’t leave their house. So we all also know that.

But I will remember when my husband was coaching at University of Texas and we were coming up to play Louisville and my parents were in Central Illinois at the time during football season.

And I just remember calling them and going, hey. I’m gonna get along with this game. Do you wanna go to Louisville this weekend? Literally, my mom goes, hey, Jess. Do you wanna go to Louisville this weekend and watch the game? I was like, Yeah.

That’d be cool. Okay. We’d be it was literally on a phone call because they could. They could. You know? And I’m like, that’s and I said that to JD last night. I said, if we ever need a catalyst for making sure we’re staying on top of our health, like, I think about what we did in Hong Kong.

And I never want my kids to say, let’s go do this and me go, oh, I don’t and the or them thinking, I don’t know if my mom can do that hike or I don’t know if dad can do that walk or whatever.

Jenny [00:41:06]:
Why we need to take care of ourselves. Exactly.

Julie [00:41:09]:
That is the truth. But there is that balance of I thought that was so I’ve never forgotten that however many years ago that was 30 years ago that they had a life where they’re like, oh, cool. We’ll be in Louisville this weekend. Love to do that.

And also make no mistake, they also had a home in Florida that they bought when I was a senior in high school and were also very much like, no, we can’t come up to this or that or whatever because we’re in Florida and I’m like, you know what? You’re smarter than me.

So they did the one thing they did get right, I think, was and which I think was hard for them at first because I was the youngest and the youngest by so much, and it was two of us for a long time that once they bought that house in Florida, they really did have a life that existed outside of me.

And quite frankly, I enjoyed that. I thought it was kinda cool that my parents were doing kinda cool things and going and traveling and such. So I have to remind myself of that as well that probably my daughters would think that was cool to see us do that too.

Jenny [00:42:13]:
Yeah. Absolutely. So I have two more things, and then we’ll see where this goes from here. But, like, we talk about how much we hate the phrase empty nester. Oh.

Julie [00:42:27]:
Or Or

Jenny [00:42:27]:
what’s the other one? The parent of free range children.

Julie [00:42:30]:
Yes. Or,

Jenny [00:42:31]:
like, have we found a better have we found something better yet?

The Empty Nester Experience

Julie [00:42:35]:
No. And I do use the word empty nest because I think people know what it means. I think it’s such a sad term. It’s such a sad term. And let me say this too, which is kind of off topic. It’s kind of tangential.

Julie [00:42:49]:
It’s interesting that and and women do this to each other. Like, if I would go on social media, let’s say, I’d be on my Instagram stories, I’d be like, you know, I’m just I’m sad today or I’m I’m kinda going through it today.

Like, this transition is really hard. I would be sent these sort of, like, hallmark platitudes. Like, you launched so well and I’m like, I in no way am saying that my children don’t freaking blow me away all the time with what they’re doing and that they’re I fully am on board with their exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s really saying I’m sad today.

Like, this is a hard transition for me and I’m sad. And we are so quick to give these, like, Hallmark quotes and and sometimes you need to be sad.

Sometimes you need to be sad. Sometimes you need to sit in it for a minute, and then you need to dig into the books and the therapy and the tools and community and get out and about and take some tennis lessons.

My dad started painting when he retired. Beautiful painting. So he probably never had the brain space to do it when he was working. Go find those things. At the same time, it’s okay sometimes just to go, this is a hard identity shift for me. You know?

Don’t cover it up with a Hallmark card and expect you’re just shoving women’s emotional health under the rug.

And let’s acknowledge that the identity shift is hard at the same time we take action to help ourselves move through it. Because we can’t be sad all the time, and you don’t want your kids to see you sad. And if you do, that’s narcissistic. I said it. I said it. 

Jenny [00:44:29]:
I said what I said. Okay. But that’s a valid point because oftentimes and this is anything whether someone you know has lost somebody or they’re going through something that’s really hard, and you just don’t know what to say.

But not saying something also speaks volumes, and you don’t you don’t want to say something because you want to reach out and let them know, I see you. I honor you. I love you. I will check-in with you.

So I guess that’s okay. Two parts. If you do, I’m sad. I’m feeling sad today. Yeah. What would be helpful or what maybe but we’re not even asking for help. What would a good response be or some of your favorites that you’ve gotten?
And, like you said, no one ever checks in on the moms to say how the kids are doing. How can we, as, you know, a community, women in general, how can we support other women, you know, going through this?

Nurturing Support Networks Beyond the Family

Julie [00:45:25]:
I think what women probably need more than anything is just to feel seen. Without their feelings or without their feelings being swept under the rug, without feelings being amplified, without just just sort of letting their feelings just just be. You know?

So sometimes it’s just nice for some to get a text to go, hey. I was just thinking about you. Sending good thoughts your way. And I’m like, oh, I just kinda need that today. You know? And it’s no more than, I was just thinking about you.

Hope you’re doing okay. Sending you some good vibes. I’m like, that is so lovely. That is so lovely. Jenny Corporal is, like, so good. Some people have a gift for this. I don’t really have a gift for it. I gotta work on it.

But I agree with you. You know, also having been through the death of a parent, like, I remember people who didn’t say anything, and I know that grief is uncomfortable. And when you are moving into a new season of life, there is grieving that happens.

So it’s a grief of a different kind. And we as a human society and as women, we’re the nurturers. We’re the caretakers. You know, let’s get okay with it just being an uncomfortable emotion. Let’s just be okay with it being uncomfortable.

I would even rather have someone say, I have no idea what to say. I just wanna let you know I was thinking about you today. Oh my God. That’s it, it’s all perfect. That’s amazing. The fact that you went through someone’s mind, what a gift. What a gift.

And finding that space between acknowledging, but also let’s not make it worse than it. Again, like, you’re you’re tough.

Jenny [00:47:02]:
You’re not, we’re not asking you to solve the problem. Just acknowledge that this is hard and be like, I and I love you.

Julie [00:47:07]:
Yes. And the world hasn’t ended. The world hasn’t ended. No. You know? Or if you’re local and you see someone struggling going, hey. Let’s go take, let’s go take a walk. Or, hey, you wanna go be for coffee or, hey, do you wanna go let’s go take this new cycle class that’s in town or, you know, whatever.

Jenny [00:47:29]:
You said, like, amplifying feelings is, like, that question when you do ask about the mom, even when it’s a new mom or whatever, it’s like, oh, and how are you? Or it hasn’t ended like Yeah.

You’re expecting you to be like, I’m terrible and awful. This is Yeah. And the moment the times when you’re actually fine and, like, doing great,

Have you ever had that feeling where, like, you actually feel bad for being like, no. I’m actually totally awesome. Like, this is I’m great. And then they’re like, oh, like this. Like, can we just ask, so how are you?

Julie [00:48:01]:
Yes. Just ask.

Jenny [00:48:01]:
And not put and not say, oh, how are you?

Julie [00:48:05]:
Yeah. Or or just even the like, sometimes it’s hard to describe how you are. You know? That is because grief is weird. Grief is uncomfortable. Grief happens even when your child goes to kindergarten, there’s a form of grief that happens.

Yes. It’s a transition. Transition is a little bit of a form of grief and just being okay with the uncomfortable emotion of grief or just being uncomfortable and just acknowledging that, oh, this is uncomfortable and and I don’t even know if you, like, it’s hard to describe how you are.

Because sometimes it could be, lumps, I suck today. Thanks for asking. Today sucks. Today sucks. And sometimes I think you don’t know how to answer.

Sometimes rather than even just asking, just, hey. I was just thinking about you. Hey. You know? Or if you’re, again, if you’re local and say you wanna go do something like even my friend, Doug, who lives here, who’s a cast member here at the parks, sometimes he’ll just text me and go, hey. I’m going to Epcot tonight. Why don’t you meet me? And I’d be like, oh, yes.

Yes.I will. Thank you. You know? It’s almost like he’s got a plan. He’s thinking of me. He’s asking me, and I’m like, I would love to. You know?

So just don’t be afraid to reach out, and remember that all transitions are kinda are there’s a little bit of grief in there, and don’t be afraid to reach out with plans and invites. Sometimes we sometimes don’t know what to do with ourselves, literally.

I mean, JD and I were talking about this last time.

Like, we need to make sure that we’re having fun because when you have children when you have children, like, there’s something like these automatic opportunities for fun. You know? Like, they’re just fun things that are happening.

And now when it’s just the two of you, you’re like, are we having fun? Like, we should make sure that we’re doing some things that are actually fun.

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Jenny [00:49:53]:
That is so true. And that, like and this, again, is a whole another, like, conversation, but having to making friends outside of your kids’ activities. Yes. That’s a whole another podcast that we will unpack at another time. But, like, I do realize that now too.

Like, it is the 1st winter my oldest son is not doing an activity that he’s done for the last five years or whatever. And I realized, I’m like, oh, I wonder how so and so is doing. I’m used to spending this portion of my life with them during this season

And I haven’t seen them. This is weird. Like, you just got so used to that and how yeah. You kinda have to figure things out on your own sometimes because those children are no longer leading you into these situations, so that’s funny.

Julie [00:50:38]:
I think we did discover during the pandemic, at least I know I did, and I think that this is probably true for a lot of people, that all of us are a little bit more introverted than maybe what we thought. Yeah.

And so sometimes we think a reach out is gonna be this big, oh my God. Now I’m gonna have to go, like, to a family barbecue and spend three hours making small talk blah blah. Actually, no.

Most people really don’t want, you know, they really don’t. Reach out can just be a reach out with nothing other than I was just thinking about you today, and no one has any expectations that now we’re planning our next vacation together.

You know, it’s okay. Let’s take the expectation off, you know, of that and sort of the pressure off of that. And, you know, I just think as women, we should take better care of each other.

Jenny [00:51:23]:
Yeah. Well, I have one last question for you, and then we can go along on our merry way. But, like, so you are in the beginning. We’ll call it the beginning. The first act still of this parenting adult children and, going to continue to figure it out as you go because you’re a rock star like that, and you’re gonna continue blazing in the trails for us even when it’s hard.

And, yes, you’re gonna feel sad, and some days you’re gonna feel like Wonder Woman and everywhere in between. However, what is your lifeline right now? How are you best navigating on your best days?

What can you look to and be like, these are the tools that are helping me navigate this right now?

Julie [00:52:02]:
It’s my habits. I mean, because I get up and I don’t have to worry about what I’m doing, which has always kind of been the case, but they’ve really taken on more importance, which I know is the opposite of what most people think because you don’t have children at home, so you think you can get up whenever you want and do whatever you want.

But I have found that my habits throughout the day are my lifeline. They give you that purpose and that intention and that energy. Energy begets energy. So having structure and routine in my day helps me not be sad. You know? It does.

I was talking about it this morning on my reel. Everyone thinks that you’re lifting weights and stuff for your hormones. No. I’m lifting weights, so I’m not sad. Because if my weight is really heavy, I can’t really think about anything else, you know, or anything that I’m doing.

And then, again, going back to that fun piece, I’m really trying to I’m tapping back into stuff that is for me and stuff that JD and I can do together and cultivating more fun and releasing the pressure because I’m someone who could I could work all the time if I wanted to because because I have the great pleasure of loving what I get to do, but that’s not healthy and that’s also not fun.

So let’s actually cultivate some things that are fun, but it will it’s I mean, it’s habits. Just getting up and having a routine that I’m stepping into rather than saying, well, I can just get up whenever I want.

To me it doesn’t lead to a day that’s very productive or a life that’s very productive, and I don’t think my girls would wanna see me doing that. And I think at the end of the day, those three and knowing they’re watching me, shoot. I better stay on track. I don’t have any… There’s no room to mess up here.

Jenny [00:53:53]:
That role doesn’t change. That role doesn’t change. The message to your children. How you live your life from when they’re toddlers to when they are raising toddlers. How you are choosing to show up for your life will always have an influence on them. 100%. Or another. And, and, well, I think you’re doing a great job.

Julie [00:54:14]:
That’s what we’re getting there.

Jenny [00:54:15]:
From the outside looking at it.

Julie [00:54:16]:
I think it’s getting there.

Jenny [00:54:18]:
I think it’s great. I think it’s great. So well, thanks for letting me be a part of this conversation today.

Julie [00:54:23]:
Good. This is good. I hope this is valuable. And even if you’ve got even I’m just gonna remind you that it’s not.

Let the seed be planted and, you know, take those two pieces of advice to make sure you have something for you, to unpack your stuff, and and make sure you’re kind of doing that prep work, and and just really becoming the best version of you in all seasons of life so that as you transition to no matter what it is, high school, college, beyond.

You are modeling that for your kids because whether you think they are watching you or not, they are watching you and they are taking this into their psyche.

And I think part of our job as parents is to lighten the load of generational baggage that we are absolutely going to give them. But if we can lighten that load a little bit, then I think we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. So thanks, Jenny, for being into that.

Jenny [00:55:21]:
Thanks for having me.

Thank you so much for listening to the Crank It Up podcast. If you know a friend who would benefit from this I mean, who wouldn’t? If you know a friend who would benefit from this episode, this conversation around personal growth, will you share this episode with them? I would appreciate it.

Let’s get the world, especially women, talking about personal growth. Let’s get the world, especially women, on an intentional personal growth journey. Let’s get the world, especially women, talking about cranking up your goals, cranking up your dreams, and cranking up your life.

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And let’s get connected on Instagram @julievoris and

Thank you so much for listening to the Crank It Up podcast. If you know a friend who would benefit from this I mean, who wouldn’t? If you know a friend who would benefit from this episode, this conversation around personal growth, will you share this episode with them? I would appreciate it.

Let’s get the world, especially women, talking about personal growth. Let’s get the world, especially women, on an intentional personal growth journey. Let’s get the world, especially women, talking about cranking up your goals, cranking up your dreams, and cranking up your life.

Want more motivation & inspo sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe to my Peptalks!

Ready to level up your personal growth & development? Get info on the #1 tool I use on my journey! 

And let’s get connected on Instagram @julievoris and

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