An Empty Nest-Time For Change

By Debe Lange
By Debe Lange

Ok, so the kids have grown and gone.  It might be they’re just across town or maybe they’ve moved across the country.  Regardless, they’re not home on a daily basis any longer and you miss them terribly.  What are you going to do about it?  Move in with them?!  That’s not a good idea.

Haven’t you taught them to become independent of you and make decisions for themselves?  They’ve simply grown up and moved on just like you did at their age.  It may seem that they’ve left you behind in the dust but that’s not the case at all.  They’re actually just an extension of what they’ve learned from you.  Now you need to trust that they’ll take what you’ve taught them and apply it in their own lives.

Your job isn’t finished by a long shot, but that’s something they’ll realize in time.  When they do, there will be more phone calls and questions asking for advice and needing your counsel.  In the meantime, you have a life to live … so get busy.Stop moping around the house pining over all the remnants of memories.  The graduation and family pictures are still on the wall and the closets still hold high school jackets and baseball gloves.  The mementos seem to be everywhere.  Yet, they’ll be back to claim those things when they’re ready, and when they do, those mementos will mean as much to them then as they do to you now.You need to change your routine from one that centered on the needs of your kids to one that is now free to fulfill your own dreams.  When your kids are married and begin bringing their little ones home, you can dote on your grandchildren as you once doted on your own little ones.  Until then, get a puppy.

You’re probably chuckling to yourself thinking I just compared your children to a dog.  Although that sounds comical, I did compare some of the needs of a puppy to the needs of a baby.

Parents, particularly mothers, have a need that wants to hold, cuddle, and protect their babies, and it’s something that fathers aren’t completely able to experience in the same way.  It’s not easily explained but it is obviously displayed.  That’s why a 6’ 6” professional football linebacker will always be seen as “baby” by his mother.  She’s known him longer than he’s known himself!

When your child grows up and leaves the nest, that ability to physically ‘mother’ that child is removed.  A helpless, cute, furry, cuddly puppy who will absolutely adore you is a wonderful, although temporary, replacement.  You now have the time and the need to lavish your attention on him as you used to do to your kids, and he’ll accept and be grateful for all the affection he’ll receive.

So now that you have a buddy to accompany you and spend time with, go for those walks; visit the park, the zoo, the neighbor, or your kids.  Take classes for pottery, music, crafts, or anything else you loved to do in your youth.  You may not be able to excel at the same level of physical activity you once did, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it any longer.

You’ll see new faces and meet new people that are experiencing the same things you are.  Traveling with your buddy and sharing with new friends is a great way to alleviate the loneliness for all of you.  So, get out of the house and enjoy the sunshine.  Recognize the excitement and anticipate each new day by truly experiencing life in ways you’ve almost forgotten about.  Don’t deprive others of your experiences, wisdom, and company.  They need you as much as you need them!

Debe Lange

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