As we are in that time of year when parents are sending off children to college, I can’t help but reflect back twelve years back when I dropped off my son at the University of Michigan.
As a single mom this was a double whammy. Single mom and empty nest!
Ben was the center of my life since he was three years old. Letting go sounded really good on an intellectual level; on an emotional level, not so much.
I remember bragging to friends that I had raised him to leave home, try out his wings. If the wings got broken, he would come home, he would mend and we would gently push him out the door again.
Reality set in very quickly as he unloaded the car of his stuff. He was on his journey and I had no idea where I was headed.
When it came time for us to part company, he gave me a hug, a quick peck on the cheek and he was bounding into the dorm to start his new life.
I, on the other hand, slowly got into my car, turned the engine on, inched forward as tears streamed down my face.
My baby was no longer going to be home.
As a single woman I was alone and the nest was really empty! The quiet in the house was deafening.
It took me awhile but I finally came to the realization empty nest provided me with opportunities. I could spend time on me, which I did: explore more deeply who I am, what I wanted for this new chapter. This was my time to take out my dreams and desires put aside years ago when Ben was born and revisit them. Some still resonated, others no longer served me and I was able to let them go.
This also became the time for me to move from Michigan to New York. So, I packed up just my personal belongings and moved half way across the country.
In the twelve years since then I have learned that yes, letting go of our children is difficult. The transition of being a hands-on mom who takes care of all the boo-boos to not having day to day responsibility is challenging, and the transition can take time.
Ultimately watching our children grow up takes the sting out. The empty nest does provide opportunities and it is up to us to take advantage of those and create a life filled with purpose and inner peace.