Empty Nest. In my young motherhood days, the term went right over my idealistic head. I mean, what sane woman wouldn’t appreciate freedom from diapers, babies’ crying, and children’s battle shrieks? Seemed I struggled perpetually to find down time, during which I could simply read, for crying out loud. But by the time my children grew up and, one by one, began to leave home, I found that I was no more immune to the terrible EN Syndrome than the next woman. Oh yes, I did feel sadness. Even wept now and again. And I visited my child’s bedroom to sit there in an attempt to feel closer to her or him.
My next Empty Nest experience came much later. My daughter, Angel, in the midst of a divorce, along with her two young sons, moved in with me. Three years passed quickly, with me involved in the child rearing process all over again, complete with all the chaotic baggage. My maternal side quickly resurrected and my heart became as engaged as it had during my early mothering days. Only now I was middle-aged, which compounded the stress and energy-drain. Then one day, Angel announced, “This isn’t working, Mom. I’ve got to get my own place. My own space.” Kerplunk went my heart. I understood. Yes, I did. But my heart didn’t. Not at first.
Yet– after the moving dust settled, I found that I soon welcomed the blessed quiet and peace that came post-empty nest. I discovered that the initial, long ago experience of letting go had prepared me for this exodus, one that freed me to fly above the Empty Nest!
Three Steps to Flying Above the Empty Nest
Prepare ahead: I remember telling myself, months ahead, to begin to let go in degrees. When my first daughter went away to college, though I’d seen it coming, I felt desolate at first. But it did help that I’d acted out the role at times, imagining Pam being gone and experiencing vicariously the coping emotions and honing the ability to divert my attention. Sure, when the time came, I had my moments of sadness but I wouldn’t indulge too long before turning my mind elsewhere.
Change Hats: I had to work at this one. I traded my ‘mother’ hat for that of ‘close friend’ hat. I worked at seeing Pam as an independent entity. A very close friend and one whose judgment I trusted. Oh yes, that took unprecedented focus and determination. But I soon relaxed in a new belief in her. It also took a strong conviction that I’d done my job well. As a result, I soon relaxed with a new confidence in her and myself. That worked magic for our relationship, as well as my renewed perspective.
Get a life!: Wow. An abrupt, screeching halt to loving, feeding, nurturing, policing and disciplining offspring can be worse than a debilitating whiplash. It leaves one stunned. Disoriented. Now we can do one of two things, mothers. Number one, we can hole up in our child’s room with a lethal stash of chocolate, sniffing that old T-shirt, and crying till the cows come home. Or we can get out of the four walls and do all those things we wished we’d had time to do all through the childbearing/rearing years. I chose the latter, both times. Your child’s launch into this big old world is but a prelude to a renewed you, a better than ever you who can fly above that Empty Nest!
Emily Sue Harvey is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month. This means we are offering sensational deals on all of her works. You can learn more at our website.