I know there are times when mommy-hood gets to be so overwhelming that you think (or scream in your head !) “I just need a minute of peace and quiet or I am going to lose my mind!” And it’s a proven fact that you do need to find that time and take care of yourself to be a good parent. But, finally, one day that last little darling leaves home. It does really happen. You’re standing in the middle of your living room. Empty nest … now what?
How do you fill all those hours that were once filled with running from one event to another; cooking all those meals and feeding them constantly; the constant piles of laundry; and of course the noise- that constant din of TV’s, cell phones, iPad, etc. Suddenly, much faster than you would have ever thought possible, they’re gone. It’s quiet. No one needs you to take them to the mall. There’s no game to go to. There’s no mountain of laundry to tackle. No one’s starving!
What happens next can go several different ways. You can either dance in the streets with joy, or you can curl up in their closet, weeping.
If you are married, you may look at each other and think of all the fun you can have. Or, you can look at each other and wonder – who are you? If you are single, you look all around your home and think, “Wow, I really am all alone now.” Your next step can really set the tone of what kind of joy you are going to get out of the rest of your life.
You have the whole world at your feet – don’t miss it! Couples can reconnect if they need to or continue life like before, just with more time available. They have each other to turn to and to do things. Single parents may have a little harder time adjusting to their new found freedom.
I was a single parent when I experienced an empty nest. I’ll admit that I was lonely at times and missed the kids terribly. But eventually my friends became more important than ever. I had the time to spend with them. I could go out to dinner or to a movie – or both, whenever I wanted to. It was wonderful! It did take a little time to rekindle some friendships but well worth the time and effort.
I didn’t experience the feeling that I had no purpose as much as some have. Raising teens can be a challenge and I was confident that my children had the life skills to become successful adults. I may have been a little naive at the time, but I did not stress about my children going out into the world. I had raised them to know Jesus as Savior and they both did. That was enough for me to know that God was in control and I could let go.
A few weekends ago, I watched “My Big Fat Greek Family Wedding 2” and was struck by what lengths “Tulah”, the main character, took to try and keep her daughter from going to college in another state. Her comment was, “What will I do without her?” I think that is a sentiment a lot of parents have when their child leaves home. But, isn’t that what we’ve been preparing them for from birth? Isn’t the point of parenthood to raise children who can go out into the world and give of themselves and not take?
Mom, you have done a great job because your child wants to move on and become independent. That means you have prepared them adequately or they wouldn’t have the idea to leave home where it’s safe. Let go of them and let them soar into the life God has planned for them. Your plan for them will never be as good as His is – let them find out what it is.
Now it is your time to do what you have always wanted to do. Take out your bucket list – or sit down and make one. Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself:
- What things make me happy? Could you finally get into that hobby you’ve always wanted to do?
- What have I always wanted to do? Maybe it’s a trip to Ireland or Hawaii!
- Who can I help? Every non-profit organization uses volunteers.
- What skills do I have that I could share with others? Is there a class you could possible start- like cooking?
- What skills do I need to learn? Maybe you’d like to learn to do woodworking or gardening.
Once you’ve answered those questions, take the time to think about what you’re really interested in and then act on it. You may want to volunteer, or take enrichment classes, or travel. The possibilities are endless! Don’t sit around having a pity party because it won’t do any good and it may even drive people away. Get out there and live!
The thought of being an empty-nester can put fear in the hearts of many women. We’ve poured out our lives on our children from the moment we knew we were pregnant. We’ve nurtured them and watched them grow and mature. Now it’s time to cut those apron strings. It’s ok, you’ve done a good job. Let your kids know that you are still there for consultation. And then look ahead – God’s got big plans for you! Be open and willing to do what He tells you! It’s worth it!
Enjoy that empty nest,
Joette Knapp is a Professional Life Coach, Speaker, and part of the coaching team at Big Blue Couch™ Coaching. After surviving losing her first baby, and two devastating divorces, Joette turned to her faith and discovered that God can take the ashes of her shattered life and turn them into something new and beautiful. She is passionate about helping other women walk through life-changing experiences and discover that there can be a great life on the other side.
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