Early Reflections On The Empty Nest

Early Reflections On The Empty Nest
I bought myself ice cream today. Dairy free, that is. I have been craving it the last couple nights. 
That's because I am finding these first few nights without my daughter at home difficult and my emotions are getting the best of me. It's the time of day I would see her the most. When we would eat dinner   together and watch our favorite shows. Often she would have a bowl of ice cream too.

Since dropping my youngest off at college last week, I've been reflecting on how this experience has differed from sending my son to college. When I watched my first-born leave, I was not prepared for the range of emotion I would feel. I knew I would miss him. I thought I was ready. I knew he was. But, the greiving overwhelmed me. I missed the daily interactions and hearing about his day. I missed the family dinners and the late night conversations. The transition was difficult for me. Along with missing him, I wondered what I had to look forward to in life. Everything seemed downhill. In three short years, my daughter would likely be leaving home as well, my parents were aging, my dogs were aging, and the dreams I had in my heart were still not coming to fruition. For years, I had poured my heart into serving my family. I felt called to be home and home school my kids. I truly loved serving my family and being available to them. It brought me joy. Now what would I do. What was my purpose?

The other part of this story is, I loved seeing my son make new friends and thrive in a new environment. I was, and still am, truly happy for him. He is where he needs to be and doing what he needs to do. I love watching him grow and mature into who God is making him to be. In other words, it was bitterweet. I greived for what was and rejoiced for what was ahead.

Thankfully, as time passed and I adjusted to not seeing my son as often, I got out of the "funk" I was in and life became brighter. All was not gloom and doom. There were good things on the horizon. I began to pour more time into my new dreams, find purpose beyond my kids, expect less interruptions to my day and the enjoy extra one on one time with my youngest. We created new memories together and I treasured the moments when my son did come home to visit.

Fast forward three years and here I am again. Except it's different. For one, it's a different child. Different relationship. I miss her for different reasons. Two, she is 1300 miles away compared to my son, who was less than a mile away. (Yes, sending your kid away to college is hard no matter how close or far away. It's not about the distance, rather it's about the life change.)

Interestingly enough, even though she is much farther away, the transition hasn't been as hard. I've been through the experience before and feel more prepared for the change. Don't get me wrong, it's still sad. Like I said, I miss my daughter. A lot! It's hard thinking about not seeing her for months at a time. But, the grieving looks different because it's more about missing her and wanting the very best for her and less about what I'm going to do. I've figured my stuff out (well, kind of). I've come to terms with this new season and I am excited about my future. I'm holding on to my dreams and have passions that excite me. I've had three years to grow through the change and be in a better place when my daughter, my last child, left home.
But, that doesn't mean I'm not going to cry a little everyday. I will still allow myself to lean into the reality of what is now and greive what once was. Because, tears are good. I will not apologize for mine. God made you and me to experience emotion. Learning how to feel these emotions and grow through them is part of being fully alive. 

If you're in the stage of parenting young adult kids and sending them off, I'd love to connect with you. We need eachother! Let's be friends and share the ups and downs of this journey.

 Lets Be Friends
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