Last month I attended my final parent college orientation. Of the three that I have attended, it was definitely the best. One of my favorite sessions of the day came when the Career Counselor asked us all to stand and think back to when we were 18 and whether or not we had an idea of what our ideal dream job would be. He then asked those of us who are currently working that 18-year-old dream job to remain standing. As I stood standing there with a few others, my husband looked at me like I had two heads. When I sat down, he leaned over and whispered, I didn’t realize you had your dream job, and I told him I sure do because as long as I can remember, my dream job was to become a mom. So I stood there quite proud of myself for achieving this goal even though I knew this wasn’t the type of job that counselor was talking about.
Once you have landed your dream job, you never want to give that up, and that’s where I am right now, but unfortunately, it seems that the time has come to shift my role from Mom to Empty-nester.
As I sit here writing, I can’t deny the sadness that has been creeping into my heart for the past few months. The day has finally arrived that my nest, once bustling with laughter and joy, is emptying out. The prospect of becoming an empty nester fills me with a sense of apprehension and longing, for I am not ready to let go of this chapter of my life.
Being a mom has been the most rewarding and fulfilling role I have ever taken on. From the moment I held my babies in my arms, I knew that my purpose in life was to guide and nurture them. Every milestone, every tear, every triumph and defeat shaped our family into the tightly-knit unit we are today. The thought of this dynamic changing leaves me with a sense of emptiness.
My children have been my constant companions, my source of inspiration, and my reason for being. Their laughter fills my heart with sheer joy every time I hear it. Their curiosity sparked endless conversations and inspired me to do better, and their dreams fueled my own aspirations. The idea of them no longer living in our family house feels like a void that cannot be filled.
My brain understands that this transition is a natural part of life, but my heart disagrees 😊. I know that my job has been to help my children grow, so that they can spread their wings, and venture out into the world to find their own paths. I have always tried my best to encourage their independence and to help nurture their dreams. But as much as I want them to thrive and find their own happiness, I can’t help but yearn for the days when they were young and needed me.
Not only does the idea of becoming an empty nester leave me feeling quite sad, I am having an extremely difficult time letting go of the dream job I’ve held for the past 25 years. Well-meaning friends and loved ones have suggested that maybe it’s time to focus on rediscovering myself. I cherish the years I’ve spent raising my children, and I’ve established a strong sense of purpose and identity through my role as a mom. I value the person I’ve become and the wisdom I’ve acquired over the years. So, I find myself asking what is there to rediscover?
After thinking about this for quite some time, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a re-discovery I need, but rather a shift in my role and perspective. If I can give myself the grace and time to slowly accept and work on the transition from actively raising my children to supporting them as independent adults, then I can still keep my dream job, just in a different capacity. I know it’s going to be a delicate balance of letting go while still offering guidance and support when needed, but I am up for the new set of challenges and joys because it’s what I’ve wanted to do my entire life.
While my nest may be emptying, my heart will always be full of love and gratitude for the beautiful journey we’ve had as a family. I can cherish and hold on tightly to the memories and traditions that we’ve created together, and look forward to the ones yet to come—birthdays, holidays, weddings, family gatherings, and maybe even someday (way down the road) new little people to care for—that will always bring us together.
Flying Solo (for now),