I’m a recent Empty Nester and that’s kind of how it feels when your kids move out. Like they’ve abandoned you. You find out what “ghosting is” – they seem totally ungrateful!
You experience a wide range of emotions. One day you’ll be running around the house saying YAY everything is CLEAN and where I left it and the laundry is all done AND put away –
Other days you’d give anything to smell the faint odor of a 2 day old wet towel.
It feels like a terrible loss. a very REAL ending to the only dynamic you’ve ever known with them.
It brings up all kinds of feelings of Nostalgia, memories of Milestones and feelings of the beginning of the end of your ROLE…….
It can be especially hard if you were very close & had GREAT relationship with them like I did.
It might actually feel like you’re grieving a loss – or that this is the start of a major bout of depression.
In a way it IS – it’s the loss of what you’ve always known.
- Feeling demoted or “fired” from the significant, vital role we used to play.
- Feeling abandoned with no skills or ideas on how to fill the void.
- Feeling a total disconnect with your son or daughter who moved out
- Wishing you could have a do-over for some situations
I always joked I’d be the Mom that moved to college with my son – and we’d get “our apartment.” (part of me was serious)
– or that once he graduated he’d move back home – and it’d be just like you see on the Hallmark Channel……yeah – it doesn’t happen there either.
Be Grateful for your Happy, Loving Memories
The fact that I have VERY vivid flashbacks of sweet conversations and situations with my sweet blessing of a son does not help the transition.
Vivid memories of picking him up from preschool – trying SO hard not to be the “last mommy on the playground.”
Hearing his little four-year-old friends announcing: “Maaaxxxx your Mom’s here!” –
remembering how he’d run as fast as he could towards me – only stopping to give his friends all hugs -and then he’d say ”hey guys look at my mommy’s neck-a-lace”
Yes – those sweet days of rushing & playing beat the clock as I dropped him off every AM, went to work, picked him up the last five minutes of the cut off time, squeezed in a workout while he took Karate, made dinner, did homework, etc. ~ over and over and over.
Quick Story to understand the level of sweetness
I remember one morning rushing around feeding him breakfast and getting myself ready for work.
Getting in the car, making sure we had his backpack, karate bag, snack money, homework and my stuff for work.
I owned my favorite pair of shoes in navy & black and I also had my favorite skirt in both navy and black.
I worked at a job where we had to wear pantyhose (dating myself) so as I got in the car and tried to adjust my color-blind eyes to the light…..
I said very stressful and dramatically -“Max, is my skirt black or is my skirt blue?”
Seeing the look on my face this 6 year old sweetly (and wisely) said, Mommy, what color do you want it to be?”
SO HERE’S 3 ACTION POINTS you can use today:
POINT #1: Find YOUR own interests – it’s so interesting to them when we have our own things to talk about our own interests, our own things were working
I understand that some kids move out and there’s BIG stretches of silence – this is painful but you have ZERO control.
If they don’t respond then at least you would have found other interests – but there’s more to you than being somebody’s mom.
There’s more to you than being needed by your kids
and it’s not their responsibility to make us happy – that’s a terrible burden and it’s unfair.
2 different scenarios
Think about these two scenarios – do you have a friend or maybe you’ve dated somebody this actually happened to me and you think you want them to be ALL into you – until they are. You don’t see them for a few days and when you finally catch up -you ask, “hey what did you do yesterday or what have you been up to?”
They say “oh I just waited around for you.”
You might initially be flattered but then it becomes a burden. Dread sets in instead of interest & excitement.
It’s so much more fun to think of that friend who always does something new – who has something to share
the point is to live your own life, create your own interests. It’s such a burden for kids when we make them feel like they’re not doing enough to meet our needs
It could be an amazing relationship with a different level but you’ve got a play your part – one way to do this is to:
POINT #2: Show an interest in their interests – takes a little more effort but for most of us it should be natural. We want to share common interests with them but listen more than you talk.
It’s cool when our kids see that we have our own lives, we have dreams & goals & plans.
Here’s my trick: (but honestly it’s what I really enjoy doing) I do my best to try & read up on the latest sports statistics or find out what’s going on in topics that would interest him.
Articles, “I ran across this and remembered you mentioned”
The trick is to keep it short – a quick text “hey saw this today and it made think of you, have a great week!”
If he says “Thanks Mom” or just TKS – that’s NOT an open door to then start a big dialogue back and forth. The dread …..(person is typing…)
Be CREATIVE: when they’re younger they just were expected to go on family vacations – now maybe sign up for a cooking class together or get tickets to a sporting event.
POINT #3: ACCEPT that your relationship dynamic is changing – You can actually feel offended or HURT when they start to pull away.
But you’ve got to remember their increased need for distance & independence is appropriate for this stage of their lives – so don’t take it so personally.
Embrace your "adult" relationship
Enjoy the fact that you’re not needed as much. It can be sad you’re not needed as much – or it can be a nice relief! Whew!
Less worry means you can ENJOY the child you nurtured & raised into an independent human being.
Yes – it will look and even feel different – but it can be BETTER, CLOSER and more rewarding than EVER –
It’s a confusing, SAD and liberating time of transition – but we HAVE to find our own outside interests.
Our SOLE function every day cannot be to matter in their lives or still try “Parent” them.
Our goal in life is to give our kids the tools & foundation they need to live their lives their way.
This is a time for you to start finding out what makes you happy.
The key to success – and actually thriving -during these times of TRANSITION…is to turn these personal and emotional CHALLENGES – and that’s all on YOU – your perception, your reaction, your interpretation (yes, your kids might not be calling you as much or wanting to see you as much – but that’s NOT about you…..
The key is to turn these CHALLENGES into opportunities for TRANSFORMATION:
Create a vision and plan for the life you WANT to be living – one that includes HAPPINESS, JOY – and a relationship with your adult children.
You're still the Queen so remember
We’ll ALWAYS be their Mom – but the rules and their needs change. We’ll always ready to be their biggest cheerleader and maybe even sometimes a coach but now her role is to guide them – be more of a life “consultant”
You ARE NOT being de-throned ….you’re just putting a different CROWN.
Hey – come join other “Empty-Nest Queens” over on my FB page @Dynamic Midlife.