I feel old. Not only did I turn 50 years old last month, but my youngest son graduated from high school and is preparing to move out of state to start college. For the first time in 21 years, I will not have any children at home. I feel that time is moving too fast and I want to yell at it to slow down.
According to the Mayo Clinic, adults may experience many feelings when they are becoming empty nesters. I am feeling most of them already.
- I feel sad.
- I am experiencing pain in letting go, although I have always encouraged both of my sons to become independent.
- I feel unneeded, now that I will not have any children at home who need my care.
- I will miss being a part of my son’s daily life.
- I will miss the chaos and clutter.
- I will very much miss my son’s companionship, hugs, laughs, and the few good face to face talks that we do have.
- I worry about his safety and if he will be able to take care of himself on his own.
And I feel old. I feel old not only because of the information that I keep receiving from AARP, but because I actually have grown children who are now both going to be out in the world without me.
I have to admit, however, that I am also feeling twinges of excitement.
- There will not be any loud exclamations or music coming from downstairs, when I am trying to fall asleep.
- I can sleep later in the morning. I will be able to cook less, do less laundry, and will not run out of glasses as fast.
- I will never have to ask if anyone is doing his homework, or yell for my son to go to sleep.
- I will not have to stay up late worrying, on nights that my son is out with friends.
- I will get hugs less often, but they will be bigger and tighter.
- I will have another fun place to visit and another road trip to take.
- I can volunteer, take up a hobby that I have always wanted to learn, go out with my husband more and tag along on his business trips.
- I will have more time to take care of myself, and to learn and grow.
Carin Rubenstein, PhD, author of Beyond the Mommy Years: How to Live Happily Ever After…After the Kids Leave Home says: "For most mothers, this next stage of life is one to look forward to, especially if you start planning before it arrives.” A few things you can do to get started on this new journey:
- Join an art class
- Volunteer in your community
- Look into continuing education classes
- Renew friendships
- Engage in other roles and ways of living
Following the above, Rubenstein says, “you'll discover the confidence and rich well-being that can blossom with this freedom."
I am going to try and take her advice.
Want to find more things to do with your newfound free time? Check out some of Oasis' ways to get involved – learning, staying active, volunteering and more.