My daughter called me this morning to take me to task. “What’s all this about an empty nest?” she asked. “You sound way too happy about it.” She was referring to a recent Facebook post in which I celebrated my son’s graduation and also commented that he was away this week visiting friends, which allowed me and my husband to get a little taste of what an empty nest feels like. “We like it,” I had written.
“I don’t know why this bothers you so much,” I replied. “You’ve been gone for years.” “That’s not the point,” she said. “You’re still our parents. You’ll always be our parents. Stop acting like you’re trying to get rid of us.”
The fact is, I am not trying to get rid of them. But good parenting, by definition (at least mine) means that we have equipped them to become independent, eventually self-motivating and self-supporting, and that eventually they WILL go away. And Ron and I will need to look at our own lives differently. Who will we be when our every waking moment isn’t about managing our children’s day to day activities? Now that I’m not fussing about homework and getting up in time for school, what will be the role I hold in my children’s lives? Sure — there’s still a lot ahead. (I foresee fussing about getting a summer job and getting up in time for work….) No body is completely self-sufficient yet and I don’t think a day will go by where I don’t think of, talk to, pray for or care about my children. But my role is changing. And as happy as I am that my youngest has reached and passed this milestone, I don’t know exactly how I feel about it. There’s a sense of freedom and opportunity. But also, a sense of loss. It’s complicated.