Empty Nest…Now What?
I have spoken with many mothers and even fathers this year, from across the country, all with similar words “I can\’t believe how sad I am. I have done this letting go before. I thought it wouldn\’t hurt this much. Why didn\’t anyone ever talk about how horrible it is to be home in a silent house?”
Your sadness and anxiety are real. It is interesting how parents and children parallel each other, both beginning new journeys and new roles. Different reasons for the change, but still, change is scary and lonely.
After all the lists and build up of goodbye, and the months of being together in the same home, and sometimes wanting them out already, it is time to rest. I know there are times you didn\’t cry in order for your child not to worry about you. Velcro Kleenex to yourself and let it out. Tears are healing. Talking is healing. Even if you are glad they finally left, talk about that.
- Write your story of what you will miss.
- Write what you are looking forward to, like less laundry and dirty dishes in the sink.
- Write what you remember people over the years, have said that complimented you.
- Write what lifts you up and gets you out the door.
- Write what you admire about your best friend.
- Write what your worries are.
- Write what has blown you away that you were able to do even in tough times.
- Write what you have done when you had free time.
- Write what you need this moment.
- Write what you are grateful for.
I guess you figured out I am a believer in the healing of journaling. It unfolds you to new parts of yourself. It brings memories that trigger other feelings and thoughts. It is safe, quiet time for you. It can lead you to what\’s next for you.
You can do it on your computer or paper and just keep it in a folder or you can buy a big lined journal where you can doodle and write. It is for you, not your English teacher.
Curiosity and compassion can be your two best friends any time of day.
Make plans, though, to be nurtured. Have an inspiring healing tape in your room to come home to and turn it on as you rest.
Have a friend email you to check on you and to remind you to go for a walk. Tell them ahead of time that you need this to start your day for the first week.
I notice if a plan is not on the calendar, we let the days pass by without being nurtured, so get it on your calendar. Sign up for fun on your calendar and go get. Play time for you. PLAY. We forget how to play. The other day, I was visiting a college student and she had a hoola hoop. I slipped it over and wiggled in her apartment. You know what makes you feel a little better.
Focus on yourself and try to stop the chatter in your head about what is she/he doing, why aren\’t they calling, should I call, etc.
This is your time, in little ways, to get to know you again, not as a mother, not as a wife, partner, friend, daughter, sibling, employee, etc.
Enjoy time with you and crawl back in when you feel too vulnerable. You will go “out” again. Let yourself simply be soft, sweet, with you. Play music if you know you have more tears, but can\’t let them flow. Rent a sad movie. I have had parents call saying they can\’t stop doing because they are afraid they will flood in their tears. You won\’t drown. I promise.
EACH TIME WE SAY GOODBYE WE GRIEVE FOR WHAT LEFT
Each time it matters how we care for ourselves. TREAT YOURSELF WELL and ASK FOR HELP. You would help someone if they were sad.
Take good care,
Natalie, whose daughter just left to go back to her job out of town and whose nephew flew into his sophomore college year, three thousand miles away, whose niece called , feeling homesick this week, which was her first college week and whose other nephew leaped into a new job and called having doubts. Change….it will always happen. Build inner resources for yourself that you can access in the moment! Breathing out loud is a great resource. Move into your new role and leave the perfection keys in the garbage. All of us will make mistakes and figure out how to course correct.