Monday, 28 April 2014

Feeling sad about your empty nest? Make something

No skills required!

I recommend this to anyone who is feeling sad about their empty nest: make something. It could be a photo album or a collage of favourite family pics, a patchwork cushion or a rag rug.  You don't have to be good at sewing. The key is that you use clothes your kids once wore (I'm the kind of sad person who can't throw this stuff away, so I've got bagsful), or family photographs and mementoes.
The rag rug I'm  making with my husband - using fabric from the clothes our kids wore when they were younger

Leaving home tradition

It's not a new idea. Apparently it's a tradition in some cultures to give adult children a home-made quilt when they leave home or get married.  The friend who told me about this plans to hide secret messages in the bedcover she's making for her son. That way she can say all the soppy stuff she's too embarrassed to say to his face.  The day he flew off on his gap year she made a photo collage of her son's life, from pregnancy to picnics to teenage parties and hospital visits. She sobbed while she was doing it and felt a lot better afterwards.

Face your empty nest

It's a good way of acknowledging the past - and accepting that it is past  - while creating something for the future. But it's also painful!   Sorting through the toddlers' dresses and teenage T-shirts always makes me feel sad and nostalgic.  You can't help thinking, how did that happen? How did someone who is now  6'2" fit into those stripy leggings his grandma knitted? For me clothes, like scent, trigger memories like nothing else.

Face your new direction

But it's cathartic too - therapeutic, even.  The whole process of sorting and deciding which fabrics to put together is deeply satisfying; it feels like a very positive thing to do.

Create your own heirloom

There are times when it feels a bit self-indulgent.  But when you're facing the empty nest there are times  when you need to indulge your need for a good cry - it  really helps.   And it's not just about wallowing in the past: it's a very practical step forward. It's  a way of coming to terms with the passing of an era, and with your feelings about that, while creating something steeped in memories - an heirloom, even -  which celebrates your child's new direction as well as your own.

If you want to make a rag rug it's dead easy - and there are courses and books to show you how. 

More Rag Rugs by Jenni Stuart-Anderson - who also runs fantastic courses 

Making Rag Rugs by Clare Hubbard