My three kids are grown and gone, with my “baby” graduating from college soon. Time sure flies by when you have children, doesn’t it? But it’s exciting to see them successfully creating lives and careers of their own.
I once saw a sign that said, “The goal of parents should be to give their kids roots and wings—roots to help them stay grounded and wings to enable them to fly.”
Although I feel confident my kids have strong roots and strong wings, being an empty-nester can provoke confusing feelings, both happy and also sad. The house feels different—much too quiet at times. My husband and I feel different too—sometimes a bit hollow, after decades of filling our days with the joys and challenges of child-raising.
A wonderful season of our lives is over, and we’re just now realizing how wonderful it was. Now a new season has arrived, and it’s time for us to give ourselves some of the attention we once reserved for our kids. It’s time for new joys, new activities, and new relationships—and it is not always easy to make the transition.
For me, this has become a time for discovering what I want to do with this important second half of my life. I finally got my own computer and my own bank account after decades of sharing everything. It was scary for me and, I’ll admit, not entirely welcomed by my husband. Sometimes women who have been so defined by motherhood must make such drastic changes that our growth and transformation can be alarming even to the best of husbands and friends.
But I’m convinced we must not waste this new season. Our “second half” should be a time when our wisdom ripens, our minds and bodies retool, and our souls blossom. For many of us, it’s a needed time of self-discovery and reinvention.
Our reinvention may require adjustments for all those who love us—our husband, children, siblings, parents, and our friends. But if we are not strong enough to take a stand for ourselves within our close relationships, how can we be strong enough to take a stand for ourselves with coworkers or strangers?
All this is a bit scary, of course. But it’s needed, and it’s worth it. If you’ve ever seen a beautiful butterfly struggling to break out of the confines of its cocoon, you can picture the often-agonizing transitions empty-nesters face.
It turns out that our kids aren’t the only ones who need roots and wings. Women and men at midlife have this same need—to rediscover our roots and to sprout new wings to help us soar into a joy-filled future.
Don’t shy away from the struggle, my friend. A new life can be right around the corner.
Find out more about Mary Buchan, Lifestyle RN, on her website.