If you are like me you have been working towards that day for years. You have taught your child everything you could possibly teach them so they can make their flight out of the nest a victorious one. You have been so busy preparing him/her that you have at times completely forgotten about your own needs and desires. With tribulations you have seen the day approach and you have more or less gently nudged your fledgling out of the nest and like a proud parent and hoped and prayed that those wings would open wide and their flight would not end in a crash landing.
Now for the first time in 18 + Years you are without a “little” person to live your life around. You have time for yourself, can do things you want to do and have that extra room in your home you can now use for yourself. It should make you bubble over with joy and happiness. After all who wouldn’t want that bit of extra freedom?
The reality is just like your kid has to learn to fly solo now, in many ways you too have to relearn to fly. When you became a parent (in most cases it is the mother that has the issues with this the most) you set your “SELF” aside and become this new creation called a mom. With each day you went a little more away from ‘self’ and became a little more and more the person that could be counted on to “fix the world” and remove the obstacles. When there was something extra it naturally and automatically went to the child. When there was a decision to be made between something you wanted and something he/she wanted, it was most of the time the child that won that game. With other words, the young person you once were had to learn to be a lot less selfish, a lot less needy and a lot less… well a lot of things.
Perhaps you were dreaming of a time when you could be “you” once again. A woman instead of “just” a mom, but reality is that well the woman sort of got lost by all the lessons she herself had learned. In many cases that is a good thing, most of us were a bit foolish as youngsters.
The strangest thing however is that there is this sudden hole inside of us. Something is missing. You even miss the silly fights you and your teen had. Do you remember fighting about him/her not cleaning up after themselves? Well you house is doubtlessly a lot cleaner now that you clean it yourself and there is nobody to mess it up 5 seconds later. But strangely enough it is almost too clean. Do you remember how annoyed you had gotten about all the constant talking, the constant noise, and the constant interruptions when you were trying to get something done? It is definitely a lot quieter now, isn’t it? Or maybe that is the problem it is suddenly just a little too quiet.
So what can you do about that sudden black hole that wants to suck the joy right into it?
Here are a few tips I am using to move forward and keeping myself from feeling too empty.
#1 Rediscover a Hobby.
Did you use to have a hobby you had to give up because you just didn’t have the money, space or time to do? Now is the time to slowly dig it back up again. Use the space to set a hobby station up and give yourself permission to enjoy what it is you are doing without feeling guilty.
#2 Keep a Journal
My daughter and I used to have long chats daily and we always knew what was going on in each others life. Before she left to Basic Training she asked me to write a journal everyday and tell her what I was doing, what was going on etc. Believe it or not that request is probably at times one of the things that keeps me from being too lonely.
#3 Don’t force yourself to stop feeling.
Most of the time it just seems as if you are being beaten up emotionally by people around you if you admit that you are feeling loss and they try to make you feel foolish. Don’t let anyone make you feel stupid for feeling the way you do. If you do not have understanding people around you, just keep it to yourself. But shutting the feelings down by force will only give depression an opening. Losing someone you love, even if they are only going on with their own life as they should, is still in a small way a time of greave to some of us. Let it run its course.
#4 Look for the positive things that this change brings.
Nothing is ever all bad. Instead of focusing on the void, focus on the new freedoms you suddenly have. For example: You can now streak through the house dressed any way you want (unless you have other small kids around in which case you probably won’t have the syndrome yet either).
#5 Remember that you will see her/him again.
Just because they moved out doesn’t mean you will never talk to or see him/her again. Find wonderful and beautiful things you are able to tell your child. When they were living with you, you strove to make their live easier. I can guarantee you that they would not be happy to know you are being miserable.
#6 Plan a Trip or other fun outing you would not have been able to do if your child was still home.
By shifting your outlook onto something that will bring your joy, it may just help you learn to fly again as well. I know from experience that it is a lot easier to do something for 1 or 2 financially then it is for 3.
#7 Consider this a job well done and give yourself the praise you deserve.
If your kid has now naturally moved on to the next stage in their life, by having flown the nest and are now on the great adventure called life on their own, then it is safe to say you have done something right. With other words you must have given them the tools he/she needed to continue and grow on their own. Nobody ever said it was going to be easy, but you have given them what they need to get started. Way to go!!!
# 8 Remember you are still their Role Model.
Do you want your child suddenly look at you and watch you fall apart? No of course you don’t. I don’t want to be the kind of mom that is Ms. Guilt Trip and I am certain neither are you. Remember that one of these days they may be in just the same position you are in today and need to have something to fall back on. Your job as Mom or Dad isn’t done yet, the locations have just shifted. Show him/her that you are still the strong person and that you know how to live your life to the fullest.
#9 Reconnect with your own personal spirituality.
If you don’t have a personal relationship with whatever higher divinity you are following, now is the perfect time to return to your own personal spirituality. Take all the time you need to reconnect and grow yourself.
#10 Rekindle your love affair with your spouse.
You knew that was coming if you read my articles. Being a parent does put big damper on being a lover to your spouse. No matter how much you want to deny the fact, the facts are that this is true. How often could you not be amorous because you had to worry your kid heard you, would walk in or some other thing. Now you can once again become the lover you hoped to be. Go ahead, take some time to make yourself beautiful again and see if you can still seduce your honey.
Whatever you do, please stay away from drugs or alcohol or any other harmful addictions. You do not need any of them to elevate this feeling. In time you will get used to it and if you allow yourself the chance you may just find that you can enjoy it. Of course that only works if you don’t feel guilty about NOT being miserable 24/7.