Preparing for the Empty Nest and Why it’s Not so Bad
The empty nest isn’t as bad as I imagined.
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When I was younger, I have to admit I envisioned midlife as a time of crisis. Over-the-hill adults buying fancy red sports cars they couldn’t afford, trying to act young and cool, but only fooling themselves.
But, here I am at midlife and that is just not me.
Realizing that my life is changing into the second half has almost been an awakening.
My kids are almost grown and one has actually left the nest.I do miss holding them when they were little and being their everything. But, I’m also kind of impressed I kept them alive. I raised productive humans! So, I choose to see this life shift as a time of growth. For me personally and for our relationships within the family.
I am also able to explore myself and my marriage again…and that isn’t so bad.
Without running kids around as much or attending multiple sports, it has given my husband and I some time to learn and try new things. We have a little more time to connect and do things we never had time for before. It’s almost funny how the simple things have almost made us feel like kids again.
Self-care was almost non-existent, but now it’s on the forefront.
We didn’t intend for it to happen, but it did. Our entire lives revolved around our kids. I don’t regret it, but here we are now with them leaving the nest.
I remember it specifically. One week before my wedding the pastor sat us down for a pre-wedding consultation.
“Don’t make your marriage about your future kids. They will leave you.”
That always stuck in the back of my mind, but 20 years later that was easier said than done. The second my daughters were born, my heart melted. I could not believe they were mine. They became my entire world. I did not want to spend a second without holding them.
I have always worked full-time, so I had a twinge of guilt that I wasn’t spending enough time with them. I worked all day so when I came home, it was family time. We kept up with the school, sports, church activities. I enjoyed my time with my kids and feel grateful for everything we have been able to provide for them.
The time went by very fast. Like it or not they are basically grown. And, if I must admit the marriage and self-care took a back seat for a very long time in raising them.
The final year
When my oldest was a senior in high school, a friend sent me an article about the “final year.” I wish I could find the post to reference it because I took it to heart. It was the year of lasts.
It’s a weird feeling to start realizing it was the last time I would experience certain things with my oldest. It was also strange to feel like she “doesn’t need me anymore.” But, also rewarding to recognize that I actually kept her alive for 18 years. I must’ve done something right!
And, through this process I have come to realize, she still needs me. But, it is in a different way and that is okay! Rather than being a rule maker, we transitioned to the point where she is making her own choices and I can only hope to be a guide now. It has always been important to me that she learn take responsibility for her choices and be prepared to face consequences of her own choices.
My job at this point is to listen more and start releasing the reigns. Her senior year I began the phase of “letting go.”
Here I was, during senior year realizing my little girl was getting ready to leave the nest. It’s all I’ve known for the past 18 years. I could either sink and buy the fancy sports car or swim and grow as a person and within our relationship.
I began to focus on what I really want for her:
- The ability to make good choices and be safe.
- To be happy and to follow her dreams.
- Take responsibility for herself and live a life of integrity.
- To know how much she is loved and to have a good relationship with our family
“The only two lasting things you can give your children is roots and wings.” – author unknown
The very first thing I did her senior year was give her medical consent to make her own decisions. She was old enough to drive and could meet with her doctor on her own. I was pleased that she always consulted with me on decisions over vaccinations or medications and thoroughly did her own research.
Win! This is exactly what I want her to do. Research and make informed decisions. I can let it go.
We also did not put any pressure on her for college or major choices. She may have stressed herself out overthinking the decisions, but I have always felt it was important for her to make those choices. After all, she is the one that would have to live the life and work the job. We have always encouraged her to pursue what her heart tells her to do.
As a result, she always bounces her ideas and plans off us. I love to see her weighing out pro’s and con’s.
Win! This is exactly what I want her to do. I can let it go!
When she actually left the nest, I made sure she knows that her room at home will always be her room. But, that we believe she has wings and is 110% capable of not only flying — but soaring and I am so thankful to be able to see it happen.
Facing the empty-nest isn’t really sad for me. I’m actually kind of excited to watch her fly and follow her own dreams. I always knew she could.
But, while she’s flying I’m gonna be cherishing my youngest as she steps in this direction. I’m transitioning again into preparing her for the big leap out of the nest. But, maybe this time with a little more confidence on my end.
Plus, I will also be utilizing my time to find me again… and that’s really not so bad. Are you an empty-nester? What has been your experience? Please comment and share below: