“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
In about a month, our youngest child will be going to college. My husband and I met in 1987, married in 1990 and within two years had our first child, fours years our second and, at 38 years old, our third. One boy and two girls – so blessed. My kids started school in 1995. We met our dear friends in our neighborhood, their schools, work, and other community activities.
At 57, suddenly I feel a double whammy hitting me – empty nest and mid-life. Truth be told, most of our oldest friends became Empty Nesters over 8 years ago so I decided that a survey would a great way to understand this new territory.
Sixty-one (61) friends participated in the on-line survey. Over 82% were women, most between the ages of 55-64 with two or more children. A combination of married, divorced, and widowed. They were evenly split between stay at home parent, working parent (full or part-time) and business owners. The feelings were: Loneliness – 1.67%, Mixed – 47.46%, Happy – 49.15% and Relieved - 1.69%. Lastly, when asked how they wanted to spend their extra time - Self-Improvement (Healthy Aging Techniques with Coaching/Events) – 46%, Volunteering – 24.44%, New Career – 22.73%, Taking Care of Aging Parents – 10.64%, and Hobbies – 8.33%. I gather from these results; it is a shift to caring for myself. I highly value and respect those who answered (given they are my friends) so my antenna is up!
Did you know that there is something called the Empty Nest Syndrome? Your marriage may become more challenging, your friends may not understand, you might get depressed (including medication, overeating, and too much TV), loss of sense of purpose, loss of identity as a parent, anxiety over the child’s welfare and urge to chuck the nest and get a whole new one.
I have the utmost respect for those who have trailed the path before me, but I have to admit – marriage is always challenging, there are times over the past 30 years I’ve felt depressed, I definitely watch way too much TV, and I am invested in my children’s welfare forever.
So where do I go from here? Why does this feel a bit sudden? How do I decorate my nest? Although it is empty of offspring, it is a clean slate and the palette is ours to bring to life with sparkles, bright colors, and lots of life!
Stay tuned to see where we go – we are only limited by our beliefs, not our possibilities. If you were hoping for answers, I don’t have any, but I do know that I have a choice – I choose to be excited, elated to have come this far, watch my children make a new life for themselves and thrilled to have the opportunity to even be visioning this future.
Love to read your comments below or you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org.