I’m trying to adjust to the empty nest.
Sometimes when the babies leave the nest, we mothers go crazy trying to adjust to the changes.
“I could feel her heartbreak from a thousand miles away, I cried her tears, I mourned her loss. I saw the pain beneath that smile, the strength behind those eyes. Our silence spoke about our presence…
What a conniving double-edged sword pain is, breaking and binding us concurrently. Such a profound thing love is, that someone once a stranger I now call mother.” ~ Evy Michaels
I am blessed to have two strong, beautiful daughters and one stout, handsome son. I am honored to have two granddaughters by my eldest lovely daughter. Those little girls are the light of my life. Every second I spend with those little darlings is like the fountain of youth. Seeing them centers me.
As mothers, we go through many changes when our children leave the nest. We also go through a major identity crisis when our babies start having babies. We worry, but we learn to let go and not project our fears onto our children as they venture out on their own.
“Behind all your stories is always your mother’s story. Because hers is where yours begin.” ~ Mitch Albom
As mothers, we remember those little souls we used to read a story to. We remember the endless days of cleaning up the messes. We remember the crayon drawings all over the walls and the pain of stepping on Lego blocks in the darkness. We remember the tears we wiped away. We remember the booboos we kissed and the teenager fights we went through.
As the holidays are here, we struggle with the empty nest. We remember those excited little faces as they ran down the steps to see what Santa brought them. But now we wake up alone. Silence fills our Christmas mornings. How can we adequately treasure the endless stories we would read and those giggles throughout the day?
My oldest loved hearing Winnie the Pooh stories over and over again. My son would ask, “Again, I want to hear it again mommy,” as I read The Monster at the end of this Book. I would fall asleep reading the never-ending stories of princesses and dragons to my youngest daughter.
What wouldn’t we give to have those days back again? But we cannot. We must adjust to the empty nest and hope our children understand that our identity crisis will pass.
As we reminisce through the past, we hope our children can be patient with us this holiday season.
There are three things a mother struggles with when their little birdies fly away to seek their own adventures.
#1. It is not an easy transition to hear our daughters being called mommy.
I had the responsibility to raise not one but two daughters in this world. My first born is strong and vibrant. She is the one who now has the responsibility of raising two daughters of her own.
When our daughters become mothers, we are proud of the new title they have grown into. But, as their mother, we ask our daughters to try to be patient with us as we watch our little girl now being a mother too.
It’s difficult for our daughters to see us shifting into our grandmother role. We ask that they show us respect as we deal with the process of aging and letting go as we can. I remember when Winnie the Pooh and his friends ran out of fear of the unknown from the Heffalump and Woozles. We too learn to face the unknown and dance with the Heffalumps and Woozles.
#2. As mothers, we must be brave watching our children venture out into the world alone.
Fear and anxiety fill us when our children tell us they are moving away from the family. We want to encourage their independence. Yet, when they venture off, we have to let our own fears go. We have to adjust to the silence within our home.
We are afraid while they are away from us. We cannot do anything but worry. Who will be there if they fall? Who will wipe away their tears? A mother’s job never ends.
I am proud of my son for having the courage to pursue his dreams at such a young age. Was he trying to get away from the women he lived with? I hope that being with many women at home helped him become a caring and attentive young man today.
When they leave our home, we wish they would call once in a while—Even if they have figured out that there are no monsters at the end of the book.
#3. When our children leave, the nest is empty. We have to adjust to a new way of life.
My story did not end with one daughter and one son. I had another daughter. As the last born, I admit that I spoiled her.
Tired or not, we are proud of how our children grow up.
I remember the day my youngest told me, “Mom I will never leave you. You are stuck with me forever.” When they are young we cannot imagine them ever leaving. But, they do. They get married. They have their own babies, and they leave us behind to build a new life.
We must now walk down the same hallways where we cut our foot on that broken plastic car at 2 a.m. when they fell out of bed. We must sit at that same table where we once begged them to finish their last bit of broccoli. And we must lay in our beds worrying that they are safe without us.
It is the way of life.
I cannot lie. It breaks my heart that my daughter has grown up and broken her promise to never leave me. But, I am glad she was brave and ventured out into the world. We prepared them for this life of independence. We hope that our brave little princes and princesses keep fighting those dragons. We hope our love and protection was enough for them to give it back to the world.
“Like a mother who protects her child, her only child, with her own life, one should cultivate a heart of unlimited love and compassion toward all living beings.” ~ Gautama Buddha
When we look back, they have grown up so fast. When our children leave the house, we want them to understand that we are adjusting to our new way of life—our new adventures. We will still worry. We will still call and ask questions about their lives. We will still be afraid for them.
Call us and be patient as we are adjusting to the empty nest.
Author: Christina Martin
Image: Jordan Whitt, Unsplash
Editor: Angel Lebailly
Copy Editor: Travis May