It’s been over 6 months since my last post. My break, although unannounced, was intentional. It’s important to take mental health breaks when needed. In my posts at the beginning of the year, my emphasis was on physical health goals. I’m happy to report that I adhered to those goals. I joined a gym and have worked out religiously at least 3 times per week. In fact, working out has not only been beneficial from a physical standpoint, but also from a mental one.
I have gone through a few personal things this year, as have we all. The most major was becoming an empty nester. My daughter went off to college in the fall of 2016 and it was ROUGH. My son was in his senior year of high school and we were zeroed in on college applications. I had just completed my PhD and was getting back into the workforce. I focused my energy on those things, but I still missed my daughter like crazy!
My son graduated from high school in 2017 and took a semester off before starting college in January 2018.
When he left, I was lost.
It was insane! There I was…the mother of two college kids, both scholarship recipients…and I was sad?! I had been preparing them for this and myself, or so I thought, since they were born. I had given my speech about being an empty nester in my early 40’s and still looking good (I do!) more times than I can count, but when it happened it still hit me like a ton of bricks.
I guess I’m naïve in a way. I instilled in my children to spread their wings and fly, but I never really thought about how I’d feel when they were gone. As a single mom, I had romanticized the thought of not having my life revolve around theirs without realizing that was the only life I knew.
Can you imagine missing sitting in the carpool lane waiting for your son to finish band practice or being the designated Uber to drop your daughter’s friends home after club meetings? It really happens folks. I find myself missing everything from the major occurrences to the most mundane. Although it’s normal to miss your kids, it’s also important to embrace your new stage in life. Here are 4 things that I’ve used to adjust to being an empty nester.
1. Practice gratitude. My children are doing exactly what I worked so hard and sacrificed so much for and I am truly grateful. Actively focusing on this changes my outlook.
2. Set out to achieve something new. This can be anything from taking up a new hobby to starting a new career. Done and DONE!
3. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to travel, but due to time and financial constraints this wasn’t always feasible when I was raising my children. Now, I am making it a point to go somewhere I’ve never been at least once a year.
4. Realize you’ll always be Mom. Your kids still need you no matter where they are and no matter their age. Your role changes as time progresses. Adapt to each phase. This gives your children the security of knowing that they’re not doing life alone and gives you reassurance that you are still needed.
I have implemented each of these things and, even though nothing…I mean NOTHING takes the place of your children, I’m learning to navigate through this new stage.