My three children are nearing adulthood and I’m beginning to feel a deep sense of grief over the loss of their childhood years. The time flew by so quickly. How can I handle the sadness I feel regarding my soon-to-be empty nest?
Seriously girl, you have been preparing for this moment your whole parenting life. When your toddler graduated from the crib to the big bed and from diapers to underpants you mourned the loss of babyhood, but you also realized how much money you were saving on Huggies. You cried on their first day of school but you celebrated every milestone. You panicked the day they passed their driver’s test, but realized their ability to pick up their sibling or a gallon of milk made your life easier. The empty nest is just another step in the process, and lest you think that parenting ends when the birds take flight (that’s a whole ‘nother conversation), think again. You will always be the mother of your children, and though relationships with adult kids will become more hands-off, you’ll still be there for them.
You’ve spent many years preparing your children for adulthood. And as they get closer to moving on, this is your time to dream! Start thinking now about what you might explore once your kids are off finding their own way.
- If you are married, consider this season as a second chance to fall in love all over again. Your love has endured the child-rearing years, so cherish the opportunity to focus on each other without the daily responsibilities of parenthood.
- Do you want to invest in furthering your career? It’s not too late. Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? It’s a great time to figure it out and act on it.
- Consider how you might serve others. Is there a ministry that tugs at your heart? Reaching out to survivors of the sex trade? The incarcerated? The children in your church? The homeless? Victims of domestic violence? There is no better cure for sadness than serving. It takes the focus off ourselves and onto others.
- Be a friend. You’re not the only mom you know facing an empty nest. Share your feelings with a friend and pray together – it will benefit you both.
- Is there a hobby you could never quite find time for? Take piano lessons or become a master gardener. Learn to quilt. Join a fitness center.
Take heart! The possibilities for growth and making a difference are endless! You’re going to get through this! And remember, in 2017, 31% of all adult kids were living in their parent’s house. So you never know – they might be back!
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.”
—Psalm 127:3 (NIV)
What a great blog! For my first read, I read the post about grieving the loss of their childhood years. Great advice! As a mother of 40-something sons, and a grandmother of 5 of whom the oldest is 16, here is another help. Perhaps use this time to channel your own childhood memories or dreams. Find a child (or group of children such as a Sunday School class) to mentor and encourage. Do fun, silly things-even just going for a walk to a park and swing on a swing again or build a castle in the sandbox. Re-read some fairy tales and sing some nursery rhymes. Let yourself go back to the level of a younger time and just relish that sweet innocence of youth while holding the hand of a little one who needs that helping, mature and nurturing hand.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. Great to connect with you!