Embracing the empty nest

About now your offspring may be packing their bags to head off to the next stage in their life at university or college. Suddenly there’s a void in your life – an empty nest.

buNow call me harsh, not very maternal or just different, but I couldn’t wait to get the house to myself. To be able to go the loo without being interrupted, to have a bath in peace and to recapture some of the original me, if I could remember who that was.

I love my children to bits and have loved having them at home but when the time came for them to go then it was time to go.

Think about it… what other creature, mammal, organism or living soul has their parents by their side for 18 years? Well, apparently killer whales can stay with their family until they are 30 (OMG) but some leave their newborn to fend for themselves after literally days.

So how did our emotional compass present us with guilt about letting go, after 18 years plus being a devoted, loving, caring parent?

From the moment you hear their first cry your days for the foreseeable future are numbered. In the first few years you are literally needed on demand 24/7, so where did you, yes you, the person you used to be disappear to?

I obviously missed each of my children when they took the next step in their journey but heck I embraced the freedom, bunting and all.

No longer did I need to be ‘just Mum’. Michele returned from the enormously long sabbatical and a new life could begin.

I could actually be spontaneous once again, I could actually have a life that was mine to do as I wished. What’s not to like?

Preparing for the inevitable

Let me rewind for a moment. Getting to this stage of euphoria, hours sitting making bunting ready for the celebration, was a process that didn’t happen overnight. It was something I created a few months, if not a year or so, before the impending departure of my children to uni.

Let’s face it, we all know it’s going to happen so why do we behave like it’s some big shock?

Lady laying in on a sofa in front of a fire with a cup of teaI figured that the yearning that I could have felt when my nest was empty was something that belonged to me, would be temporary and although may take a few days/weeks to adjust, I prepared myself to get used to the new dynamics of my family and me.

Actually, one of the thoughts I kept replaying to prepare myself for my impending freedom was that change is good. The next step was vital for the healthy development of my children and to dwell on what is lost wouldn’t do anyone any good.

So for the sake of all concerned I had to get a grip and sort myself out.

In years gone by there were many things that I had to bypass in trying to be a respectable, responsible, devoted parent. Having meals in peace, drinks after work, going away on weekends away, holidays on my own, having a two-seater car, meals for one/two, and so on.

And so as my children were growing up I used to dream of this significant date of freedom, not to mention the delirium at the prospect of relinquishing taxi duties at ridiculous hours of the day and night.

When it did arrive I was prepared, in a state of impending excitement and good to go.

Letting them go

Let me not delude anyone into thinking this transition was without a mini trauma. I dropped my son off at uni, feeling like a sharp object had been thrust through my chest, sobbing with my daughter.

I got as far as the gates of uni before I called to ask if he fancied going for a drink! What a wuss. But deep down I knew I had to let go, let him fly and be his own person.

The first few days were weird. I couldn’t really pinpoint what exactly I was missing. Was it the washing lying around, the smelly socks, the empty cereal packet or even the half-eaten pizza under the bed?

But by day four I had a full diary of events planned just for me, called all my friends to say I was ‘available’ and embraced the freedom and choice it gave me.

The other great thing when they came home, I made time to be ‘with’ them instead of feeling like I was juggling everything. They got all of me because I knew our time was limited.

Remember, you get more of what you focus on and if you keep harping on about your flipping empty nest then you are confirming your desire for more pain, loss and sorrow – your very own self-fulfilling prophecy.

My advice? Get over it, it has to happen and anything else is just plain selfish – let your offspring go to live their own life and start living yours.

All the words and thoughts in this are my own and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree – may make you think though!

Michele Walsh

About Michele Walsh

I’m a qualified coach and NLP practitioner, using my 17 years of business experience to work with women in business, combining a strategic approach with creating the right mindset to help businesses grow and develop. You can find out more at www.msmoneymaker.com

  • Imogen Jamieson

    I am about to wave off my second and although I agree with all your advice, its going to be tough to have to say goodbye to her. Like you say, you know its coming and you can prepare for it but I still found it tough when the day actually came with my first and it will be just the same this time round I am sure. I agree that its important to mask your own feelings though – it makes it so much harder for them if you don’t – but my view is that you shouldn’t beat your self up for finding it hard – part of loving is letting go but that doesn’t mean its going to be easy!