Are you sad?
Are you moving?
What are you going to do with all your time now?
These are a few of the questions I get asked as I begin the phase of a parent’s life called, “empty nest.” With my youngest child leaving for college next month, the inevitable morbid curiosity comes from fellow parents still in the throes of diapers, PTA meetings, teen angst, and just the overall balancing act of motherhood. Is there such thing as the legendary “empty nest?” It seems impossible that the sweet little souls we dedicate our lives to will actually grow and thrive and then – *sob* – leave! But yes, dear reader, it happens, as I can attest. At times, this new perception of me can feel like a wizened old crone rocking on the front porch and telling tales about ye olde days while hawking tobacco into a spittoon.
Yet, despite my morning mirror evidence, I am not that wizened old crone. I am about to celebrate my 49th birthday, and my 50s are waiting for me with bated breath. Because they know they are going to far outshine my 40s. To be honest, my 40s kicked.my.butt. I faced unexpected challenges I was ill-prepared for, and it is taking the entire decade to sort this mess out. Luckily, with some fantastic help and innate stubbornness, I feel like I am s-l-o-w-l-y finding a stronger voice, putting greater value onto my feelings and needs, and forging a much healthier, happier outlook – perfect timing to prepare me for my last chick flying the coop.
Yes, this new chapter is an ending of sorts. It’s the end of my children living full-time in our home, filling it with an energy and life force that was so special and that I was very lucky to have. It’s the end of in-person parenting and the first day of school photos and permission slips and the year broken into semesters and spring breaks. But here’s what it’s not the end of – my life.
To me, there are so many new beginnings happening. It’s the beginning of my son embarking on an amazing adventure, pursuing his life’s passion at his dream school. It’s the beginning of my daughter taking the next ambitious steps to achieve her goal of going to law school. It’s the beginning of me using this opportunity to fill my nest with different feathers, a re-feathered nest if you will. A renewed creative life, an amped-up focus on health, and the search for pursuits that bring me fresh joy. It’s time for more girls’ trips (hint – I’m always available now!) and date nights and a new approach to parenting adult children.
So, with that, here goes the answer to those questions:
Are you sad? No, I can’t be sad when my children are happy and living their best lives. But, it is bittersweet, and there is so much I will dearly miss. I’ll still be doing “mom” things on a daily – it will just look different now.
Are you moving? No, my husband hasn’t finished remodeling the dang bathroom, and I want to enjoy it for at least a minute. Plus, I’m never giving up my back porch!
What are you going to do with all your time now? Stay tuned!