THE EMPTY NEST
We women have to transition because the children grow up and “leave the nest,” we can feel so uncertain about what to do next with our lives. The children have been the focus of our time and energy and then they go off to college or the army or trade school, they move out of state, they get married, they have their own families. We parents can feel such loss that it becomes depression, even blaming ourselves for having worked so much that we missed out on spending more time with our children during their earlier years. This transition can be a new and exciting time for you to focus on YOU, to pay some attention to your own self-care, to enjoy things that maybe you put off doing for a long time. The new freedom you have gained may feel like a loss but in fact, it’s a new opportunity to reinvent yourself and build your own better life. Perhaps with a new career or job, visits with friends, leisure activities, vacations or hobbies. If you have too much time on your hands, look for opportunities to volunteer and help others who are lonely – the social interactions will be good for everyone involved. The necessary task here is to find other purposeful activities to take up the time and space our children held. The reality is that parenting never ends. You will still be involved, for example, when the kids go to college and are faced with the risks of alcohol and drugs or when they face other inevitable challenges of their new independent lives. Even as successful adults, our children still need their parents for support and open communication – whether they think so or not! Overall, the years after our children leave are meant to be enjoyed and filled with added purpose.