I’m looking out the window, watching sheets of icy rain fall, feeling soothed by the sounds of drops hitting the eaves. I feel oddly at peace, and it is this sense of inner quiet that inspires me to write about my feelings. I always knew this day would arrive– I just could never picture it or imagine how I would feel psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. After devoting the past 20 years of my life to being the best mom I could be and raising my two children, both are now off to college, spreading their wings and forging their own unique journeys. I guess this means I have done my job well.
My emotions are all over the place. The feelings are bittersweet. On one hand, I am thrilled for my children to explore the world and find their passions… yet, it is hard to fathom that the very core of my identity for the past two decades– motherhood– is no longer enough to sustain me. I have had a part-time career as a marketing consultant since the kids were young, and I have put in hours of volunteer and community service work– much of which has been extremely gratifying and fulfilling– yet my main focus has been my children… guiding and shaping them, teaching them, leading by example, and instilling in them solid values and morals so they would be well equipped to go out into the world and make an impact.
Now I am learning to let go and allow these capable young adults, whom I have nurtured, taught and mentored, to follow their own paths. This entails letting them make important decisions– even if I disagree with those decisions– allowing them to make mistakes and to hopefully learn and grow from those mistakes. I am learning to talk less and listen more, so I can really hear what my kids are saying, without passing judgment. Each day I am able to let go a little bit more. And, interestingly, it seems that each day my kids grow up a little bit more.
The theme for this blog came from a most unexpected source. When I first conceived of writing a blog, I googled “empty nest blogs” to help generate ideas. One of the first links that popped up was from the American Association of Retired Persons (better known as “AARP.”) I smiled to myself, partly amused and partly appalled. After all, I hardly consider myself fitting the AARP profile of white haired Viagra customers. And, although I am in my 50’s, I certainly do not consider myself old by any stretch. Nonetheless, my curiosity was piqued, so I clicked on the link to AARP’s web site. The first words that caught my eye surprised and delighted me: LIFE RE-IMAGINED. This phrase struck a chord deep within me.
The concept of an empty nest is very real and powerful indeed. Yet, as children leave the nest and begin their lives away from home, this so-called nest remains an important touchstone for all of us. However, using my new favorite buzzword from AARP, I prefer to think of it not as an “empty” nest, which connotes a void, but instead as a “re-imagined” nest, full of life and new possibilities. For my kids, it is a place where they will always feel welcome and loved unconditionally, a place where they will always be comfortable just being themselves. The re-imagined nest isn’t necessarily our physical house, but rather, our family unit, wherever we happen to live; it remains sacrosanct, continually overflowing with warmth and love. For me and my husband, and our golden retriever, who remain “behind” as our kids venture forth, the concept of the nest is equally important, as it is the glue that binds us together as a family. Our lives don’t stop because the kids have left, but rather, we continue on– just in a new and undefined way. I realize it is now time for me to re-imagine life and explore new and exciting possibilities. By writing this blog, I am taking the first step of my journey towards renovating and re-imagining my nest.
I hope you will join me as I step outside my comfort zone to redefine personal and professional goals, reexamine relationships from a new perspective, and revel in a newfound freedom to live in the moment. It’s going to be an exhilarating ride.