This fall I found myself in a new phase of life. I don’t think I was ready for it but it still came like a tornado that could not be stopped. Our youngest moved off to college at Auburn. One would think that after going through this experience with the first born a few years ago that i would be fine the 2nd time around. Yet I found myself crying like a dripping faucet that would not turn off. For the past 21 years I have loved being mom to Matthew and Aaron. The grief has been deep and real for what is no more. Letting go of something you love is not fun. I miss going to bed and hearing them upstairs. I miss the dinner table and hearing about their day. I miss friends dropping by and joining us for dinner or just to hang out. It’s quiet. Too quiet. Even the dog and cat seem sad.
One definition of empty nest syndrome I read: Not a clinical diagnosis but a phenomenon in which parents experience feelings of sadness and loss when the last child leaves home.
Of course I have encouraged my children to become independent but the experience of letting go has been painful. I miss being part of their daily lives. Admitting I have cried a lot is not embarrassing to me.
My husband bought me an art gallery to cheer me up. At first I thought he was crazy for doing this but now I’m glad. As I have grieved for what is behind I am now daydreaming about the future. I feel ready for new adventures. I’m ready to celebrate my past and my future.
The impact of empty nest syndrome does not have to be negative. Recent studies suggest that this stage of life can have positive benefits as well. Todd and I have a new opportunity to connect with each other, improve the quality of our marriage and rekindle interests for which we previously did not have time.
My purpose is changing. Questions I have been reflecting on: Who am I now? How do I relate to my kids? How will my marriage be affected? Where am I needed? Every woman in this stage needs to determine her own redefined role as wife, mother, friend and more. I don’t have all the answers but I know God has a purpose for my life and the Bible still has guidelines for it. A mom can still flourish and thrive at the second half. I’m ready for this new phase.
Here are some tips that have helped me:
- Accept the timing. God is in control and still has a plan for my life.
- Keep in touch. Though I try to let them initiate we still have regular contact with texts and phone calls. I love that they share prayer requests with me. And I love praying for them.
- Seek support. I have 2 great friends that are going through the same thing. It helps that our boys are all friends. (Love you Jodi and Angie!)
- Stay positive. I like to write and making a list of all of the positive parts of this phase of my life helps.
- Stay active. Reinventing myself is what I am doing now. I love being a small business owner and having more time for community involvement.
It’s exciting when my boys come home for a weekend and I cook all of their favorite foods. I think they might have a new appreciation for us too. It’s fun to hear about their adventures at college.
If you are an empty nester I would love to read your comments about your experience.