Approaching an Empty Nest
Last year about this time I wrote a hub about staying in touch with my teenage daughter. Twelve months later, the reality that I'm almost done with this "mommy gig" is sinking in.
The truth is, not long after that touching day at the mall, our "keeping in touch" time morphed into the 9 pm to 11 pm slot - just after her weeknight curfew - if I could pull myself away from the computer when she got home, AND if I could resist falling asleep on the couch.
She leaves for 10 days in France 10 days from today. When she gets back, she'll get her driver's license. And next fall, not only will she be a senior, she will be on an early release schedule and taking advantage of the free tuition for high school students at our local community college.
She's seventeen. Wow. And a remarkable, responsible, independent seventeen. I'm about the proudest mom you could ever meet.
I feel guilty some days, because truthfully, I'm not mourning this approach of the empty nest. Instead, I'm thinking about down-sizing and moving to the country. I'm relaxed, maybe too comfortable in the idea of my beautiful daughter as "all grown up".
My friends with slightly older children tell me it will hit me when she's really gone. They may be right. But I think I've had a slight advantage - her father and I have been divorced since she was four years old, and our 50/50 shared custody arrangement helped me get used to not worrying about her so much when she's out of sight.
I'm happy to realize I've already been doing the things that Psychology Today recommends:
Many suggest preparing for an empty nest while your children are still living with you. Develop friendships, hobbies, career, and educational opportunities. Make plans with the family while everyone is still under the same roof, so you don't regret lost opportunities: Plan family vacations, enjoy long talks, take time off from work. And make specific plans for the extra money, time, and space that will become available when children are no longer dependent on you and living at home.
I've got that last recommendation down, pat!
The article also explains that "More mothers work these days and therefore feel less emptiness when their children leave home. Also, an increasing number of adult children between 25 and 34 are now living with their parents."
It's true I've worked all of her life, so maybe that's helping, and since she has a second home with her dad, who as far as I know has no plans to relocate, I won't have to deal with the boomerang child phenomenon. In fact, since I'm going to be the one leaving home, she won't have a bed to come back to!
I think that I'm going to quietly (after this hub confession) enjoy this next year or so, watching my daughter complete her childhood. I'm sure I'll shed a tear or two at her graduation (like I did at her kindergarten graduation), but more than feeling sadness, I feel a sense of completion easing up on me, a sense of pride, and a sense of anticipation for discovering the adult my baby is about to become.
An update: I'm not nearly as smart as I thought I was. I still have a year before the true empty nest, but find out why my daughter's recent departure for France made me write a retraction for this hub and a more emotional exploration of approaching an empty nest.
Twenty-Five of Thirty
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