Empty Nest Update By Teresa K. Flatley
Well, I guess you could call me an Empty Next veteran. Our youngest son left for college in 2005, seven years ago this week. A long time.
Like everything in life, those years have flown by, and from where I am sitting now, things have turned out well. I was sad when my sons left home for college and a new life, but have found that watching them grow and mature and live their own lives has been a real joy and something I wouldn’t have experienced had they stayed at home all these years.
I just finished reading a book called The Bluebird Effect about a woman who rehabs songbirds. She develops a deep affection for the birds she cares for, but the ultimate goal — always — is to allow them to retain their wildness and to release them back into the world, no matter how cool it would be to keep them with her for the rest of their lives.
Now that I look back, that’s what we as Moms do and do so well. We spend a lifetime taking care of our children, raising them to be strong, happy and healthy adults and then have to step back at a certain point and let go, hoping we have done all we could.
There is pride in that and respect and always, a lot of love. None of that changes no matter if they are here under our roof or thousands of miles away.
So take heart if your children have recently moved on to the next chapter in their lives. It’s time to take care of yourself now, to spend time on those interests you left behind when you had children, and to always be there to share in your children’s joys and accomplishments. It may be a new role, but it’s a good one.
Teri’s website at www.BoomThis.com focuses on what’s important to Baby Boomers, including work and play, health and fitness, money and retirement and much more. She also sends out the Boom This! Ezine which includes columns on life as a Boomer and other newsy bits. To subscribe to the free ezine, just send Teri a note at email@example.com.
Update from “Lea” past member for a several years
I do not post on the site much anymore, but do come in and read the post. I am a mom of a only child, a son. I lived my life for him, he was always my world and never thought of myself as anything but his mom. When he first moved out (suddenly with no warning) I was beyond crushed. I cried for 3 months, I did not have a clue what to do with myself. All of a sudden I did not know who or what I was anymore.
After some rocky times for both of us he moved back home for a year. For sure I was back in mom mode lol. I was better prepared when he moved out again, but was still sad. I felt like a chapter of my life had ended and my house seemed empty. Over the last year I have formed a new relationship with him, one I enjoy very much.
I don’t see a empty house anymore I see a clean house, I no longer hear a silence. I now here my guest, my choice of music my choice of tv programs Do not get me wrong, I would love a do over and see him come from the school and throw those little arms around my neck But now when he comes “home” I get to fill those arms in a HUGE hug.
It took some time but I realized I did not “lose” my child I just accomplished what I set out to do the day he was born, I raised a wonderful man and it is his time. Hang in there ladies and visit the site as much as you need. I met so many wonderful friends on here that helped me so very much. God Bless All Moms!
Personal Update from “Jenny” past member from Australia
It’s been nearly four years since I registered on the empty nest, stumbling across it one night when I was at my wit’s end, grieving over our children leaving the nest.
Since those early posts on the message board, my life has changed dramatically. After years of caring and looking after the needs of our children, I had no idea what I was interested in, what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. To help pick me up out of my depression, I embarked on a series of changes which have taught me a lot about myself and others.
I started out by losing 40 kilos, working out at the gym daily and for the first time in a long while going out and buying some new trendy clothes and feeling good about myself from the outside at least. I found exercise, whether it was the gym or walking, kept me challenged and worn out that I was less likely to feel teary at the end of the day. I then set about changing my life bit by bit including changing my job which I had had for the last sixteen years. I ended up finding my present position in a community based organization where I assist a range of people who have health, disability and financial problems. While my working days are long now, I feel some sense of purpose. There are people relying on me for a sense of structure and stability in their lives.
However, the emptiness still remains. While I still have good relationships with my children, the fact that they live in two different states, means I don’t get to see them very often. I’ve had to accept the reality of my situation – when I’m out shopping and I see mothers shopping with their daughters, etc. I look at this simple everyday sort of event and think to myself, this is never going to be me. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder – I’ve found the opposite to be true. As each year passes, while I can see the family bond exists, I feel I know even less about my children. The telephone calls get shorter or the intervals between calls longer.
So how do I get around this. I know I’m not completely healed. I just continue to keep busy, studying part-time. Sometimes I think, I make my life too busy but I figure if I’m busy, I won’t have to dwell. My husband and I have done some travelling and in many ways, the empty nest has opened up new and exciting doors for me. I know I’ve come a long way since those early posts to the Empty Nest site and am grateful for those other moms who replied to me those days.
All I can say to anyone navigating the empty nest, is be gentle with yourself. Do whatever it takes, in those early days to get through them. Things do get better, life will be different and we just have to work at letting go and moving on with our lives.
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