We spend a minimum of eighteen years as parents, feathering our nests, taking care of the children, and running a hundred miles a minute, all to ensure that our children are well taken care of and their every need is met – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
As summer comes to a close, many parents are posting pictures of the iconic moment in their lives - the moment they become empty-nesters. The proud, smiling faces in the pictures hide the heart-wrenching actualization that this chapter of life is also coming to a close.
There is no sound in the world more surreal than the final closing of the door. We find ourselves in an empty house or apartment that seems so much bigger than it once was. The only sounds being those we make ourselves.
The vast emptiness of the home expands into the abstract of life. The questions start to form in the depths of the night.
- What do I do now?
- How will I fill my day?
- What is important?
- Do I still have a purpose?
- What is my purpose?
Our lives don’t end when our children leave home. You would think we would know that as our parents survived our own departures. Yet, we struggle. It would be more concerning if a person didn’t struggle with the change.
The truth is that becoming an empty-nester requires that we allow ourselves the time to grieve the loss of our parenting role in their lives. Once they become adults, we have to let them live, grow, and master adulthood – without our interference. As much as the Mommy and Daddy in us wants to be there to hold the safety net, and smooth the rocky road for them, our children will experience failure, no matter how much we don’t want them to. We have to take on the role of the advisor or mentor, anything less is a disservice to their overall well-being and ability to handle life as it is.
Looking forward into all the possibilities can be energizing and exciting. The future is a canvas waiting to be painted, a story yet to be written, an experience yet to be had. The attitude in which we approach the future is the key to the unveiling of ourselves.
I have been an empty-nester for six years. It’s been an exhilarating time in my life. At first, I wasn’t sure of my path or direction. I assure you, no matter what stage of empty-nesting you are in, that it will get easier with time. You will find an entirely new and different relationship with your child(ren). It will be the time when you find that your adult child is now one of your oldest, closest, and dearest friends.