I have two good friends that are facing an empty nest this fall. As I watch and support from afar, I am reminded of my experience with our empty nest when our only daughter left for college. I was shocked at how deeply it affected me. I had joked with my friends about the experience, but when it finally came time to say good bye, I wept on the way to the car…and continued for the two days we took to return home.
It was only with the perspective of time that I realized the true nature of my grieving. I was grieving for the end of a time in my life. The end of the phase when I would be needed as only the mom of a child at home can be needed. While I knew that my relationship with my child would always be there, I also knew that it would be forever changed when she no longer lived at home. I was right.
The years that have passed since my nest first emptied have been filled with many life lessons as I learned to navigate the path of an empty nester. The challenges of parenting a child as they mature into a young adult, retiring from a career and nurturing a long marriage. However, I want to reassure my newly empty nester friends that there have also been great lessons of joy and fulfillment. Finally, the time has arrived when you can put your own passions and needs first in your life. There is time to explore what hobbies and interests call to you….time to spend with friends….time to sit with a cup of tea and breathe.