Do you have to choose what kind of empty nester mom you want to be?
Hey there Beautiful!
Are you a mom who can’t wait to get her kids out of the house OR a mom who is dreading the day?
Do you have plans to redo your child’s bedroom into your craft room OR do you have no plans to change a single thing in your child’s room after they leave for college?
Are you completely over having no clean drinking glasses in the kitchen since they are haphazardly hidden in your child’s room OR are you constantly posting to Facebook baby pictures and lamenting about where the time has gone?
There's the joyful empty nester moms and there's the miserable empty nester moms.
I’ve seen the confusion of the joyful empty nester mom in social media when she can’t understand WHY the miserable empty nester mom is so upset that their child has left home to seek out who they are.
And I’ve also seen the miserable empty nester mom with a heart full of anxiety and eyes that have sprung a permanent leak as they fully realize what it means to their everyday life when their child moves three or more states away.
Why do you have to choose which side of empty nester moms to be on?
Wherever you fall on the mom spectrum between joy and misery when your child leaves your realm of influence is okay.
You walked, ran, sprinted, and even dragged your feet a few times during the long marathon of raising that child.
You finally ran through the finish line tape, your arms raised in victory, a huge smile on your face, and your mind repeating the phrase, “I did it!”
Give yourself the credit of achieving (or should it be surviving?) one of the hardest but most rewarding accomplishments in your life, raising a child.
You need to go out and CELEBRATE what you have accomplished!!!
To the mom who is joyful that her child is now out of the house: go out and celebrate!
You’ve worked danged hard over the years to raise a semi-functioning adult and you’ve done your very best. (You know the synapses in their frontal lobes in their brain are not quite fully functioning yet so mistakes are still going to be made.)
Now is the time to do what YOU WANT to do. You could redo their room, downsize all the clutter, go back to work, start a side business, take all the drawing classes that you never had the time for, volunteer, or don’t volunteer.
You have things to look forward to like doing less laundry, being able to think clearly for the first time in YEARS since no one will be interrupting you with a problem that ONLY you can solve, and going to the refrigerator to get the last piece of cake and finding that it’s EXACTLY where you left it.
How long has it been since THAT’S happened?
Yes even the miserable empty nester moms need to go out and celebrate.
To the mom who is miserable that her child is now out of the house: go out and get some chocolate ice cream.
No, I'm kidding but if you DO need it, go get it.
But you too should still go out and celebrate!
You’ve also worked hard over the years and deserve the time to appreciate what you have accomplished.
When you’re done celebrating and your thoughts turn inward to try and figure out all the answers to the questions that you have spinning around like a hamster wheel in your mind, give yourself time and a whole lot of grace.
You don’t have to find the answers right now in one day. That anxiety is coming from trying to solve all of your problems at once.
GET OFF the hamster wheel of spinning thoughts and trust in yourself that you WILL find the answers you seek.
There shouldn't be two groups of empty nester moms.
As you can see I’ve grouped all of you into two groups: the joyful empty nester moms and the miserable empty nester moms.
But that’s the wrong way to think.
All of us have been those two types of moms and all the variations in between them.
I’ve worked with women who are happy that their children are out of the house but are stuck trying to find their purpose.
And I’ve also worked with women who are so unhappy that they can’t physically see their children everyday but have also created a new side business for themselves that inspires them.
Be okay with whatever you're feeling as an empty nester mom.
It’s okay to be feeling WHATEVER you’re feeling.
It’s okay to be happy that your child called you but still cry after you get off the phone because you miss them.
It’s okay to leave their bedroom EXACTLY how they left it and it’s okay to pack up their memories in a box for the attic while looking at paint colors on Pinterest for inspiration.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, excited, anxious, ecstatic, worried, hopeful, and stressed all in one day.
Are you too 'scarecited' for what comes next for you?
Right now, I’m the mom that is excited for my future and also terrified for my future.
In a group I’m in they call it ‘scarecited’ when you’re scared and excited at the same time. I’m a planner and like to know what’s going to happen next.
There’s A LOT of unknowns right now which makes me anxious as well.
But I’m also so happy that both of my kids are out of the house.
When friends and coworkers would ask me how I was feeling about my kids leaving I always said, “I can’t wait!”
The facial reactions I got seemed funny to me ranging from eyes popped open in shock to head nodding in agreement and understanding.
I’m enjoying getting to talk to my husband more without having kids to interrupt us or that we have to save conversations for later when kids are not around to hear us. I know I’m extremely lucky that I have a husband that is my best friend and I still like being around him.
So 'scarecited' to create something just for me!
I’m also ‘scarecited’ to be turning my youngest son’s bedroom into my office instead of sharing my current office space with guests that visit us in our extra bedroom.
I think my problem is that I don’t want to make a mistake since this is all mine.
Every other room in the house has had input from another person. My husband and I gel when making decorating decisions but this is one time that I have to decide what I want.
And that’s a bit heavy to me to make a decision that only concerns me.
If I ask my husband’s opinion he usually says, “Whatever you want,” or “Are you sure about that?” So he’s no help. I have to remind myself that it’s just paint or peelable wallpaper and I can change it again in a year if I want to. It’s not permanent.
What do you love about being an empty nester mom?
I’m also enjoying that I can have two WHOLE hours to just think with no interruptions.
It’s, I just can’t find the right words of how amazing I felt when I was able to let my mind go down every path it could, bounce around with ideas, and JUST THINK.
To complete tasks from start to finish and know I did a GREAT job since I didn’t have to start and stop a million times.
But I’m also struggling to figure out my new routine of what’s best for me.
Should I work out in the morning or in the afternoon?
Should I wash clothes on Friday nights or on Sunday mornings?
Since I don’t have to look at my children’s calendar for their activities and then fit them in to what I want to do or what has to be done around the house, I feel a bit lost on how I want to schedule my time.
It feels liberating and uncomfortable, like I’m in limbo until I figure it out.
My advice for you - empathy, compassion, kindness, understanding and celebration!
But here’s what I am asking each and EVERY SINGLE ONE of you to do.
Feel empathy for what another woman is feeling.
Feel compassion when she is feeling the way she is feeling.
Be kind and understanding when you see a woman lost and at the end of her rope.
Celebrate when you see a photo of a woman traveling to a country she’s never been to before and having a wonderful time.
Congratulate her when she decides to leave her current job and go into business for herself.
Don't forget the moms who may never experience an empty nest.
I also do not want to forget about the moms who will never get to experience the apprehension of seeing their child drive their first car, feel the anxiety of having them move away to college, or the joy of watching them get married.
These moms have a child with a disability and a different path has been laid out before them.
I won’t pretend that I understand what you are going through and what you will go through in the future.
But I will always lead with empathy, ask questions so I can understand better what you do, and then listen with my mouth shut.
There is NO us vs. them!
This is not the time to be in an us versus them scenario.
However you are identifying yourself right now, as a joyful empty nester mom or a miserable empty nester mom, just know it can change.
There will be highs and lows, know it and expect it. But you can choose how you will react and respond to those around you, the thoughts and feelings that you experience, and the words that you speak to another woman who is trying to find answers.
Be the smile that someone needs to receive.
If you do want some extra support from some amazing women be sure to join my free Facebook group, Kids Are Grown, NOW WHAT? There are questions that you have to answer in order to gain access to the group so be sure to answer the ones that are required.
I’ll talk to you later Beautiful!