Empty Nest

 Bird's nest

Well, after having children at home for thirty-three years, all have left the nest.  This was the first full weekend after the last one left, returning to school, last Wednesday.  It has been quiet- too quiet.  When all the sons were small, I longed for quiet sometimes, but this weekend the silence was deafening.  Mind you, I know that this is the natural course of things: we raise our children to be independent and to go out into the world.  It is the culmination of a lifetime of "mom" work!  But still, at this moment, I am sad and feel... alone.

The house is clean, I have done the yard work, and now I find myself wandering around the house, not quite knowing what to do.  Not that there isn't anything to do- I have plenty of projects, organizing, and reading to do, but none of it is appealing at the moment.  So, I have allowed myself this weekend to feel my feelings, not minimizing or denying them.

I will not get stuck here, but for now I am being mindful and acknowledging that this is a transition time, with all the emotions that come with it.  Sadness and loneliness are part of being human.  But so is joy, and I know that joy will be present again, and I will embrace it.  Changes, even good ones, can produce anxiety, sadness, and excitement.  

In order to move past the feelings, I believe you have to go through them.  No avoiding, no self-medicating (although I admit I did have a bowl of ice-cream!), no pretending. Feelings give us a message, useful information about ourselves or the situations we are in.  Right now the message, for me, is this- being a mother has been the most important thing to me since my first son was born thirty-three years ago.  And it still is, but my role has changed.  So now, it is time to broaden my definition of myself- to explore my likes, dislikes, interests- now that I have time to do so.  I will have to be intentional about making opportunities to be with friends and family.  I will have to be careful not to isolate, and will look for times to connect.  I will need to look for ways to help others, to give back, and make this time in my life mean something.

I look forward to times when everyone is home to gather for holidays and bask in the laughter, lively discussions and sometimes heated debates.  But for now, I can be sad.