The Empty Nest - Survive and Thrive!


Kids grow up.  Sometimes they move away.  
And sometimes, after the grandkids are born, kids take the grandkids and move away.  
These are not small transitions for the woman who has wholeheartedly loved and prioritized her family.  It’s easy to feel displaced, with a huge sense of loss.  You may feel that the ‘color’ and vibrancy have left your world. Your role has changed rather you wanted it to or not. And it’s easy to look back and recall the years gone by, fondly, and conclude that the best times are over now.  
It’s easy to feel that you aren’t yet done parenting your adult kids - that you see that there’s still more to teach and guide them through.  You want another year, another opportunity to pass on to them the skills or knowledge you think they are lacking.  You may find yourself looking back wishing you had done some things differently when they were younger.
A mother who’s only daughter moves away for college finds herself feeling empty and alone. Another woman finds her heart aching as her son and his wife have moved away with her first grand baby.  
Such changes can bring on a surge of loss and grief.  Grief is not a pleasant journey and it never moves as fast as we wish it would!   
But, somehow, the magic of our internal, natural tendency to grieve and heal takes root.  Eventually, the dark clouds  seem to lift, and life starts to feel a bit different.  It’s common to find that the relationships with adult children are rich and meaningful in wonderful new ways.  It can now become an adult/adult relationship.
 As you relinquish the responsibilities of child rearing, you make space for a new and different relationship with adult children. 
(Sometimes getting to this point requires patience on your end. )   It may take your adult child some years to feel solid and confident of their own adulthood before they can engage in this new type of relationship with you. 
Because you are no longer focused on child rearing, there is now more space in your world to pursue who you are today.  Rearing children is an enormous undertaking that likely seemed all-consuming at times.  In the midst of it, it was easy to lose track of who you are and what you really enjoy.  The ‘you’ prior to having children is a different person in many ways that the ‘you’ today.  
The wonder of maturity and the years of life experiences have refined and shaped you into the woman you see in the mirror today.  There have been both positive and negative experiences, But cumulatively, they have profound effects on shaping you.  You are older and wiser, and simultaneously, you are growing and learning still more.
With the new freedom you can enjoy the luxury of exploring creativity, friendships, and adventures in new ways.  You can find new growth opportunities and indulgences as well.  
I remember after my own adult children had left the nest how odd it felt in those first few years to just relax in the evening!  No more was I taxiing them to outings, nor was I waiting for them to get home at night so that I could fall asleep.  At first it felt empty.  But, over time, I have really come to enjoy the luxury of it!
Be patient with yourself as you allow yourself to adapt to this enormous transition in your life.  It’s OK to feel whatever you feel, and to know that loss leads to space for new beginnings.  Take good care of you as you experience this life transition!  You really can - not only survive- but thrive!  May the journey lead to wonderful new chapters of your life!