Okay, another week has gone by and this empty nest thing is not going away, but it is getting a little easier. I definitely still don’t like the overwhelming quiet that pervades the house, but there are some benefits.
The house stays cleaner, neater and tidier, there is less laundry to do and don’t even get me started on the beautiful state the bathrooms stay in. How come I have 3 children but there always seems to be 9 dirty towels in the the bathroom?
Our food bill at the supermarket has gone down. This is relative in that I try not to think about the enormous amount we paid for a meal plan at their universities. To be honest I will take every penny I can save along the way. We had a coupon for our local supermarket and we had to spend $140 to reap the benefits and just couldn’t spend that much, oh how times have changed. That is another benefit, we can eat what and when we like!
The positive and negatives aside what I am really feeling is that most things in life are not all good or all bad. The key is to just live in that moment, experiencing it, feeling it, living it. Yoga says you can only control your reaction. So when the empty nest sneaks up on you, and it really does, how are you going to react? First I cried, then I did a yoga and meditation practice, then I blogged. For me these were all things that help me process this life changing event. The yoga and meditation keep me grounded and help me maintain my yogic steady state even when I miss my children.
In fact the process helped me realize it’s not all negative, this is an opportunity to open a new chapter for my husband and me. A time to reconnect and discover our own hopes and dreams not just what we want for our children. Now after 5 weeks I can look forward to parents weekend and going to see my daughter, hopefully I won’t cry when we leave this time. Even if I cry I know that I’m okay with returning to the empty nest. I’m living in the moment, in this new chapter I may not love it, but I don’t hate it.
This fall my youngest left for college. It is a new phase of life, a new stage. How did this happen? It seems like just a moment ago I was holding each of my 3 children in my arms as newborn babies. in that instant I was filled with so much joy, love and happiness and now already the last is leaving the nest.
So my nest won’t officially be empty for 4 more weeks when my oldest son leaves for Thailand to go and teach there for a year. It seems so very far away and almost incomprehensible that we won’t see him for almost a year. My second son is back at college for his Junior year, and my youngest is having a great start to her Freshman year in college. I am so proud of each of them and happy to see them moving forward in their lives, this is exactly what my husband and I want for them! So why is it tinged with sadness for us and most other parents?
I find for me there are several reasons. First, while yes I am still their mother there is a change in that identity. I am not needed to mother them every day. Unlike when they were younger they don’t need me to drive them around, make them a snack or tuck them in at night. I am still their mother, but like a cousin once removed, I now mother from a distance.
Some of the sadness comes from missing the daily communications. My house is so quiet, no more noisy dinners as we hear about everyone’s day, no more friends dropping by filling the house with noise and laughter. No longer can I hug them when I notice they are having a tough day. Communications are planned, first texting “are you available to Skype at 8?”, then waiting till 8 o’clock and hoping the technology will work for us.
What does yoga have to say about this? Yoga says that your attachment to an identity causes pain, the feeling of loss of the identity of mother causes pain. Even though I am still their long distance Mom, it is a loss, a change in that identity, it can and should be mourned. Yoga says your happiness should be independent from the events that are happening around you. I can’t let my happiness be dependent on my children being home, this would not be healthy for them or me. They are doing what they should be doing, what we have encouraged and prepared them to do. they are moving on growing, learning and becoming beautiful independent young men and women that my husband and I are incredibly proud of. The way they are stepping into their new stages of life with grace inspires me to do the same.