Duck family in vintage photo

How to Cope With Empty Nesting

As the days and years fly by and I morph into one of those wise old ladies, I realize there will always be lessons to learn along the way – no matter how wise or old I become.

I know I’m not the first person to discover this particular aspect of aging, but as my kids head back to school and my eldest gets settled at college for his sophomore year, it strikes me how much I’ve learned in just this last year alone. I am rapidly nearing that phase in life known as “empty nesting.” Basically, it means my kids are moving on with their lives, and leaving me to sort through how I – one who played the role of supportive mom – fit in. Hmmm.

One of my friends calls it, “Chapter two.” Well, I like that better. It sounds more like the beginning of a lengthy novel than the ending of the breeding/nurturing season. My chapter two started with the departure of my eldest son, on his way to college in another state. I was ok with it and then I wasn’t. The adjustment was not smooth and I surprised myself with manic bouts of loneliness. Chapter two continued when I started this blog. I needed to share – share knowledge, experience, life. Writing made me feel like I was busy. But the loneliness didn’t go away.

Then I realized that I was lonely for more than my son. His dreams (and, now, the dreams of my other high school-aged children) were my dreams. And, in fact, they were the only dreams I had.

The hardest thing I’ve learned this year is that eventually you have to let go of the dreams you have for your children – and let them dream their own. To let go of their dreams you have to listen. Listen when that actor son of yours says he just wants to lifeguard this summer. Listen when your drummer joins an a capella group. Listen when your daughter quits chorus. They’re moving on and you need to move on as well.

The next hardest thing I learned is that you have to create new dreams – your own dreams. And it’s not easy. I’m not saying that you stop supporting your children. You’ll never do that. But you’ll learn to create new goals, new dreams, a whole new you. My recommendation is to come to terms with this before all of your children are gone. Be honest with yourself when the first one goes. And then listen…to yourself. Once you really listen you’ll be ready for chapter two – and chapter three – and so on! And chances are, those kids of yours will now support YOU!

…to be continued…

Duck family: Reflections on Empty Nesting

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5 thoughts on “How to Cope With Empty Nesting

  1. Hi Laura
    This is so weird I have been trying to find your email address for the last few days with no luck. When I saw this on my timeline I knew this was blog you wrote that got us somehow connected.. Sure enough I click on the link and that is my reply that I wrote 2 years ago.
    I would love your email as I have something that I need to ask you.
    Best
    Maureen

  2. Oh wow! I have tears in my eyes. I have only one and she is off to college in the Fall. However with all the decisions that come with starting their next chapter I feel like we have been talking about going to college for a very long time.
    I honestly do not feel or am accepting that in about 5 months she will not be in her room upstairs. That scares me so much, that I literally have to block the thought.
    However I will say that mentally I will never be ready for an empty nest but I am physically changing my life and creating something pretty amazing. They say timing is everything and that is just so true.
    I have been on a heck of a roller coaster job wise and the harder I tried to get secure the worst it got. I now know that the offer I just got is why I had to take that journey, it led me to where I am now.
    Sadly my marriage is probably over once my daughter leaves and I am actually okay with that. I made the choice that I want to wake up happy and I know if I continue the way I have been I will never feel it. We have been trying to make it work for over 6 years and when someone is unwilling to change, as hard as the decision is you have to pick yourself up dust yourself off and move on.
    Thank you for this today, I apologize as I probably wrote more than I should have.
    My daughter is truly my best friend in the world and I am so grateful for the relationship we have created and nurtured.
    Stay in touch so we can help each other
    Maureen

    1. Maureen – you have touched my heart today! It is one thing to write a blog post about your experience, but to know that someone has read it – and found value in it is the ultimate reward! Thank you for that and for sharing your innermost feelings. We are definitely ‘sympatico’ and I hope to stay in touch as well! Do you write a blog?

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