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  • mcreynoldsle

Are you a new empty nester?



Family hugging at the airport
This was hard: Saying goodbye at the airport

This is my first post because becoming an empty nester took me and my husband by surprise. I can't be the only one.


For context: Right before Covid hit, both our kids, one a fresh college graduate, and the other, a high school graduate, moved out of state for NYC and SoCal, respectively. They left with our blessings and loving support, but we didn't know what was coming, and we sure didn't know we wouldn't hug them again for over 2 1/2 years. Covid restrictions, their jobs, our jobs, boarding costs for our dogs, and the fact that they both picked the most expensive places to live in the country meant FaceTime visits for a while.


We raised our kids to be fiercely independent, in a supportive, responsible, and loving home, and they thrived despite all the chaos that ensued. But holy cow, the first Christmas when they did not come home, that hurt. My husband and I debated not decorating the house, and I held a few pity parties for myself.


I was so mad because the Hallmark movies, the romcoms, and the beach fiction I read all showed empty nesters...ok, maybe a little sad at first, waving to their kid driving away... but then.... hey look at mom and dad, on a cruise for Thanksgiving, and then the kids come home for the holidays and everyone makes cookies and dammit, that sure didn't happen.

We raised our kids to be independent, thriving members of society, and they are, but man, I thought they would come home!


Don't get me wrong. I love this time of life. I enjoy waking up to a clean kitchen, just the way I left it. The house is quiet and calm--I can actually read a book in the family room. I have leisure time! There's less laundry, and cooking is completely different now. Because cooking for 2 sucks and we all know it. My husband and I are discovering new adventures, and we talk to our kids as much as our schedules allow. And I miss them so much, it's a throat punch.


I realized that it's normal to feel loneliness, sadness, emptiness, anxiety, and relief when your kids leave home. We are going through a huge identity shift because our roles have changed. Our adult kids still need us-- but in a different way.


Fellow empty nesters, if you are feeling like me, remind yourself:


You are not alone in your feelings,

Your kids are supposed to leave home, and they can do so because of the foundation you built for them,

They know you have their back,

Trust in them,

Trust in yourself,

You did a good job!


Remember:

You have a new relationship with your adult kids

Allow yourself time to grieve your changing family, loss of traditions, and changing roles

Rediscover or pursue hobbies, passions or activities

Nurture relationships and expand your social network


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