I am 8 months into this thing, ‘empty nesting’. Man. It is a lot harder than I thought. It’s not like it took me by surprise. I always knew it was coming. But none of my friends talked about it being so dang emotional which of course leads me to think it’s just me. Am I the weirdo?
My boys and I have always had a good relationship. Well, as much as any mother/son relationship I know. They are active and always have been. They played all the sports in high school and I was there. I went to most every game, I hosted team dinners. I volunteered. I was the planner of events and vacations. I was the one who cooked the meals, cleaned the house, the clothes, made sure they went to their appointments, chewed their butts when they needed it, but we didn’t share common interests.
I think that’s pretty common. I didn’t want to hunt, fish or learn how to play golf. I still don’t. But now I am left with that feeling of what do we do together? How am I going to see my babies? Oye. Just writing that down makes me feel all whiney.
I have taken extra care to watch grown men with their Moms. How they act, or what they do. As of yet, I have yet to see a relationship of a Mom with her son that I want to emulate. It always seems the boys or men ‘have to’ see Mom. Does anyone want to spend time with Mom past the age of 7?
What would I have done different? Maybe I would have taken more naps so when they wanted to talk at 10pm, I would have had the energy to stay awake. Please don’t misunderstand me, my boys are great but in high school, it was a rough go for a while. Their Dad and I got divorced when they were 15 and 17, they struggled, bouncing from house to house, never knowing where their stuff was. They did some dumb stuff. Nothing major, just enough to make me feel like I was going to lose my mind and some nights left me huddling in a corner crying like a crazy woman? No. that’s not it, not a crazy person. Like a broken-hearted Mother afraid her kids are causing themselves harm. Those times were so scary. I did feel like I had broken my kids for a while.
But now. Oh my gosh. They are so awesome. In college and doing well. They have friends, doing the fraternity thing. They call their Mom, they talk to me. They share things. They remember my birthday. They do the right thing and did I mention they are handsome? No failure to launch here. I get choked up every time I see them and think, “Thank you God for giving me the strength to keep this creature alive inside me for 10 months. Thank you for giving me patience to get them to this point and keeping them safe from themselves. Please continue to watch over them.”
This empty nesting thing is all about me and my feelings. Letting go. Feel your feelings-that mess is hard. Share your story. hmph! I want to huddle in a corner, eat my feelings and just feel sorry for myself.
What do you do to prepare yourself for empty nesting? You don’t. You cherish each and every moment, knowing that, ‘this too shall pass’. If you are in an uncomfortable time where you don’t know what to do? “This too shall pass.” If you are in the time of your life and everything is great? “This too shall pass.”
For me, I have a great therapist. We talk about my fear of abandonment issues, co-dependency.
I have found joy in the work I do as a health coach and a yoga instructor. I have good friends and a support system. I have found love with this man of mine. I am doing new stuff like getting certified for diving. I do the journaling because it makes sense of feelings I don’t know what to do with. I do the exercise because it gets all my endorphins going. And I wait. I pray. I breathe. I take child’s pose. I wait to know my next right step. There is no hurry or need to fix. Sometimes you have to sit in it for a while. Find comfort in the discomfort.
Here is the thing about transitions that I have learned so far. It’s painful. Moving, a new job, the death of a loved one, divorce, empty nesting, they are all uncomfortable. Try to do the least amount of harm to your physical body as your mind wrestles with the discomfort. Love yourself through it. Don’t numb yourself through binging, drinking too much, or doing too much, no ‘shoulding’ yourself.
Get up every day with gratitude for what was and what will be. Find your joy and your zest outside of the kids you raised. Yes. You can do this because you can do hard things, you don’t have to do it alone. Find support. But yes my friend, you have to feel your feelings in order to get on with it.