I never imagined how it would feel to be in this place. My two oldest kids are adults with one in college and the other having a family of his own. My youngest is in her last year of high school. When it occurred to me a couple of years ago this was about to happen I thought “it’ll be ok, I’ll just travel.” Today’s world is filled with COVID19 concerns about getting on planes so the thought of traveling looks a little different to me then it did before.
My college-age son goes locally so it’s not like he isn’t around, but it is different. Navigating life as the only parent to my kids and transitioning from the one they depended on for almost everything to having to be the mom that lets go and helps them use their own wings to fully fly can be tough. When it’s been you and them for so long and then there’s just you, there is a sense of liberation with a bittersweetness attached. When you have another younger one at home, you can adjust a little better because you still have someone there who needs your full attention. This new chapter doesn’t afford me that distraction.
Fortunately, I can confidently say I don’t think I did too badly with my kids. They are smart and functioning at a level many wish their kids functioned on. It’s funny how they each are alike and different at the same time. To be transparent, the youngest is the most financially responsible thus far. Could it be because I became more financially responsible towards the end and she learned lessons I didn’t even know to teach the older two or is it just her personality? I believe it’s a little both. My middle son is definitely the one who may set out to save the world while the oldest will be the biggest supporter and encourager cheering them on while he dances to the beat of his own drum.
I’ve taught them all to be independent thinkers and THAT they are. That’s what single moms do. We are good at helping them figure out a way to function. They think in their own ways on their own time and with conviction. Their thoughts don’t always align with mine, and that’s ok. But what about me? What happens next? Not having minors to rely on me certainly won’t make me disposable. Adults still need their parents but just in different ways. And that new way is exciting and scary. More and more moments not knowing what they are doing and if they’re safe can make a tear fill your eye all the while you beam with pride because they are really getting through life just fine.
No one knows what my empty-nester journey will totally look like but it’s the next chapter. It’s the time that seemed like it’s would never arrive. It is also a time to focus solely on me and all the things that matter to me. It’s a time to shine as the new and improved woman that being a mom and believing in God has molded me to be. It is a time to spend with my current friends, new friends, deepen my spiritual connections and look in the mirror at the me who will be just a phone call away if the kids need me.
As parents, we do our jobs, and then if we are lucky we get to see the fruits of our labor flourish and become their own instruments of success in the world. In my case, I’m blessed to get to see that times 3!