I never thought I’d be one of those mothers who pines away for her children when they leave the nest. After all I raised them for this day. My children gained more and more responsibility as they grew older and I pulled away in stages because I saw the end from the beginning. I may have bitten my nails when they weren’t watching, but i started letting go from the beginning.
In preparation we had conversations where I told them that, at whatever age they had reached at that point, I was going to hand things over and we had the same conversation again as they aged. I said things like “you are about to start school, wow that is a big responsibility, I bet that someone responsable enough to go to school is responsible enough to make her bed, what do you think?” By the time the were older teens near graduation the conversations went more like this “Well, I think it is time for you to practice doing things on your own, while I’m still near by. How about you call and make your own doctor appointment and go to the doctor without me? You can just fill me in when you get back. How do you feel about that?” They did great! They have taken each step with pride in themselves, with a mixture of trepidation and confidence, and they did it! I know they have what it takes and they know I do. I know that they have what it takes to make it in this world. Mistakes and all. I’m just not sure I have what it takes.
I have become more of a worrier all of a sudden. I worry about things like, will they be safe, get good jobs, will they have a good home, will they marry well, will they be responsible, centered, balanced, wise adults? How will they handle failures? How will they handle success? Will they be kind, loving, generous, and emotionally engaged to their spouses and children? Will they pay their bills on time and avoid debt? Will they remember to “do right”, as my grandmother used to say, will they become who they were made to be? And so much more.
The answer is yes and no. I get it. They will do all of this and more and they will make their own mistakes, but I have raised them to understand this is a wonderful tool for learning and growing. They will also have great successes and I think they will handle it humbly. So why worry?
I remember the anxiety from the first time they stayed with a babysitter, or went to a sleep over? I remember the first day of school, the first time they drove away in the car? This is my first. My first time of saying “you did it, you made it! It is time for you to do life with me as an optional advisor and I think you will be great!” I need to hear “mom, you can do it. I’m going to grow up and you’ll do great! You will be who you were made to be. You will fill other roles, discover new things about yourself, take time to learn new things. Mom, we will still be here, it will just look different, after all you raised us for this day.”
So, maybe I am pining away, missing little people more than I expected, but they have been my life every single day for 21 years. I am not defined by being their mom, but being their mom is part of my definition. However, I have great expectations for them. I look forward to seeing their lives unfold and I look forward to seeing my life unfold. I have had the greatest adventure filled with so much joy. I have loved parenting and can think of nothing I could be doing that was more important than raising my kids. I just didn’t listen. I didn’t listen when older women told me “enjoy every minute honey, it goes by so quickly”. I will say it too, it is true. But, still it went by so quickly and I enjoyed as many minutes as I could.
As for the future, I am still a newlywed. I have been given the greatest gift of a second chance and he is wonderful. I have gained 4 more wonderful children and a grandchild. I look forward to pouring into their lives and letting them know how loved they are and that their dad and I believe in them and love their unique personalities, that we want to see each of them be the person they were designed to be and I look forward to seeing the adults they are becoming and see the lives they will lead. And I still worry about them all. But, know they will make it. I hope our home will be a place to come and be recharged, encouraged, loved, and believed in for all 7 of them (and those to come). And I will still remember that it goes by so quickly.
The lesson to be learned? Empty nests are still home. That warm, cozy, place, we can all just be ourselves and be loved. It is my pleasure to make this soon to be empty nest “Home”.