Laura Osborne began playing tennis in her mid-30s, little did she know what an important role the sport would play in her life just when she needed it most.
For years, Laura was a devoted Mom to her two boys. When her first one, Michael, left to college at 18, she was prepared. A natural planner, she began her “off to college” mission three years in advance. She used one year for teaching laundry tech, the next for cooking basics, and the third for overall survival without her. When it was time for her son to leave, he was ready and so was she. But with her youngest, Greg, her baby… things did not go so smoothly.
“It was Greg’s decision to go to boarding school at 16, to fulfill his dream of skiing at university. I just adore my guys so much, and I was so proud of them but heartbroken at the same time. I wasn’t ready for my youngest to leave so soon. There just wasn’t enough time.”
“The first month away, he was sick at school and called me sounding awful on the phone, “Can I come get you?” I asked half way out the door. “No, it’s a closed weekend,” he said and managed without me. To have them not need you anymore the same way is a huge blow.”
“Then there was that emptiness, that used to be filled with activities all centered around the boys. And the friendships I made while organizing these activities faded as our priorities shifted.”
Laura found herself lost. With her defining “Mom” identity stripped, she had to reinvent herself. Turning to recreational sports and volunteer work, helped Laura to refocus and set new goals.
BEYOND THE GAME
Seeking out games and making herself available to jump in at the last-minute, Laura quickly filled her days with playing and friends.
“I would try to be upbeat and happy on the court, making an effort to be complimentary and supportive. We would play with joy, laugh and have lunch afterwords. Getting together to play with other empty nesters and making new friends, gave me a new sense of purpose—something to look forward to in the day.”
“There’s a sisterhood, a camaraderie and friendship that extends beyond the game. It was so fulfilling and rewarding, it really helped pull me through.”
EVERY POINT HAS TO END
As time went on it got a little easier, but once in a while there were still pangs of emotion that would come over her. “There were moments, when I would remember so fondly that sweet after school time when we would gather over dinner. We would enjoy good-natured banter and laugh — the family unit was together. They just grew up so so fast. That’s when it felt good to hit the courts or go for a run. “
“What I love about playing tennis, is that its a lifelong sport that doesn’t plateau. The more you practice the better you get and the more confident you feel. There’s a pride in accomplishing something just for yourself…it’s a wonderful rewarding thing.”
“I try not to be too hard on myself and my partner. Every point has to end. It is so important to look forward and be positive. The older I get the more I try to remember to be kind to myself, work on improving my game and never lose the joy of playing. If there’s ever a time I don’t have fun playing tennis, then I must be doing it wrong.”
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE FUTURE EMPTY NESTERS?
“Find things that make you happy (it doesn’t have to be tennis) and add more of them to your life. It will give you something good to look forward to each day. Your days will be more full; you will start new routines and miss the old ones a bit less. Then before you know it the kids will be on school break and back with you!”