Our son started college in Canada last week. After spending ten days with him helping him to settle into the new apartment, my husband and I headed to California. My husband is on business, and I rarely miss an opportunity to visit this part of the world with him. It’s one of our favourite places.
I suppose it is a fairly gentle way to begin our new life together as we are not physically in the empty nest. Even so, after twenty years of it being ‘the three of us’ my husband and I are rediscovering what it is like to be a couple. Know what? Aside from a healthy dose of missing ‘our little boy’, it’s actually kind of fun!
I’ve discovered some interesting truths about being an ‘empty nester’ the last couple of days.
It really isn’t as bad as you anticipate it will be. I had visions of being in floods of tears when we left, but actually it was okay. There is a real sense of accomplishment when you feel that it’s time to help your child go out into the world on their own. After all, you raised them. While their success is ultimately dependent on them, knowing you have brought them up so they are ready to strike out on their own is very satisfying.
It’s hard to stop ‘mothering’ your child(ren). I find myself asking my son silly questions about his timetable, how he’s going to get from one place to the other and what he’s eating. I’m working very hard on being caring while avoiding micromanagement, something our son no longer needs. It’s a fine balance, and I know our son will be much happier when I get it right!
An empty nest is a great catalyst to reinvention. Often our children love us so much as we are, it can encourage us to stay in a rut. I’ve been stepping outside my comfort zone the last few days – everything from eating on my own in a restaurant to having my hair styled differently. (Just styled, not cut – I’m stepping outside my comfort zone, not leaping!). Starting anew has made me realise I have a lot of possibilities and potential open to me that I might not have had time to notice before.
Not only can you rediscover yourselves as a couple after the nest is empty, you may also notice that your experience raising your child(ren) has made the connection between you richer. You never stop growing as a person, and it really wasn’t just our son who grew up in the last twenty years. My husband and I grew up too. We are more well-rounded as individuals and that enhances us as a couple.
So if your children have recently ‘flown the nest’ or are about to in the near future, fear not. It is a big change, but it’s not a bad one. Hang on to your positive attitude and your sense of adventure and you’ll be amazed at just how full an empty nest can be.
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