Dear Empty Nesters,
First of all, congratulations! You must be feeling a variety of emotions as you realize that your house is no longer filled with the commotion of kids. On one hand, there must be this sense of relief; you have successfully survived one of the hardest aspects of parenting: the first 18 years of the child's life. Alternatively, you may also have some feelings of slight sadness as you realize that the children you have nurtured, taught, inspired, bathed, provided for, taken care of, argued with, listened to and watched develop over the years are no longer residing in the same place as you.
There is also probably an unending sense of pride as you can now sit back and watch your offspring take on the challenges of the real world semi-independently. That is your kid out there doing that; how exciting. Finally, there must also be an overwhelming sense of wonderment as you ponder "now what?" as the dynamics of your house change. No matter what you are feeling, always remember to embrace those thoughts and acknowledge them, but try not to ruminate over the ideas that come about. Memories and the emotions that are inflicted by those memories are important to an extent, but when they begin to infringe upon your ability to move forward and create new memories or feel new emotions, then it becomes a problem. Always remain mindful.
Please take some time to re-evaluate what defines your purpose in life. In the past, a large portion of your identity and purpose was to be a mother or father. This still holds true; just because your kids are gone does not mean that you have completed your duty as a parent rather, it is just that the nature of that responsibility has shifted.
Your time commitment is different now too. Gone are the days when you have to drive your kids to extracurriculars, attend school programs, help with homework, deal with school drama, throw birthday parties, coordinate social events and actively teach important life lessons to your kids. Now they are off on their own, coordinating their own schedules that you sometimes are a part of. Thus, take this time that used to be set aside as primarily for your kids for yourself.
For so long, you have relentlessly put your kids' wellbeing over your own; due to that reason, and many others, your kids are eternally grateful (even if they do not always seem like it). All of the selfless sacrifices you have made for your kids did not go unnoticed; however, now is an opportunity for you to prioritize your own wellbeing. Return to a hobby that has made you feel excited or try something entirely new. Implement acts of self-care into your daily routine.
Truly take pride in your occupation, if you have one. If not, perhaps apply for a new job or find a place to begin volunteering. Most importantly, fortify the relationship between you and your partner; after all, the two of you are some of the biggest reasons why your kids have made it this far and are off exploring the capacious world we live in.
Here's to the parents that have recently been deemed "empty nesters." Thank you for your time commitment, genuine thoughtfulness, financial support and unconditional love that you have provided relentlessly while your home was full of the hustle and bustle of raising children. The young adults who are making their way through the world would not be where they are today without you.
I hope you enjoy this next chapter of your life because you definitely deserve to.