I have been privileged to meet a number of remarkable people, through the minimalist blogging community–many of whom have become as close as any friends that I have in “real life.” Lois Field is one such friend. She brings such a passion to her life and to her writing, and I know you will enjoy this guest post she has written on celebrating this often-feared time in a parent’s life. Please check out Lois’s blog, Living Simply Free–not just because I’ve written a guest post on bicycle commuting for today, but also because Lois’s combination of lightheartedness and calls to action will keep you coming back, to enjoy her writing.
There are many stages we go through in life. Most of these stages take a normal progression of one step added to another. When we move out of our childhood homes as adults we often rent furnished or semi furnished apartments, as after aquiring beds, couches, and other necessities we move up to the unfurnished option. With marriage, we add even more and maybe buy homes at this point. Then we start our families, with growing families we add a few more things to our lives and possessions.
Then we are faced with the greatest challenge of all. Our children move out and we face that often dreaded phenomenon – the empty nest. It is at this point that life throws us a curve ball. No longer do we need to add to our possessions we now can subtract. Yet, this subtracting is a foreign concept to us, it isn’t something we have learned to do over the course of our lives thus far.
Lillian Breslow Rubin was quoted as saying, “How then can we account for the persistence of the myth that inside the empty nest lives a shattered and depressed shell of a woman–a woman in constant pain because her children no longer live under her roof? Is it possible that a notion so pervasive is, in fact, just a myth? “
This myth causes many to fear letting go of their children, and being forced to face life minus the main role they have played for 18 or more years, yet it doesn’t have to be. This is the time we get to take a good look at what we want the rest of our lives to look like. To create a new role for ourselves. Were there experiences you alway wanted but put off? Now is the time to explore those dreams.
Christiane Northrup believes this period in our lives should not be seen as “game over” but rather “just the beginning” But beginning of what?
For 21 years I was known as my sons’ mother. I held a position on the local PTO, supervised many sleepovers and chauffered children to sporting events. My job had been to raise my children to find the best in themselves, to keep them healthy and prepare them for adulthood. My experiences led me to the question: Do we lose a piece of ourselves in the years we place the role of mother ahead of everything else?
I like to think I didn’t lose myself completely while I was raising my children, but it’s a fact of life that when I look back at my child rearing years I see that at some point all my friends became other mothers, usually of my children’s friends. Once our children were grown it was easy to see that even those friendships were strained to the breaking point. Where I had believed my friends and I shared more than our philosophy on raising children, that was not the case.
So the empty nest brought me face to face with too many things taking up space in my home, a home that had rooms rarely ever used, and changing dynamics in my friendships. I could hold on to the past or forge ahead and create something new and fresh for myself.
Sark considers herself a Wild Succulent Woman, definining this type of woman as “A woman of any age who feels free to fully express herself in every dimension of her life. To do this we need to break free of our “cages, boxes, stereotypes, categories, and captivity. It will involve standing tall, laughing loudy and being who we really are.
At this point we have a decision to make. Will we continue to live as we have been doing, living in the too big house, holding on to everything our children left behind and staying stuck in that role of mother or will we let go, live wild and find a whole new meaning for our lives?
I decided to let go and forge a new life, a life I would be proud to call my own. I gave my children the opportunity to take any of the things they left behind, got rid of everything else and moved to a smaller home that fit my needs. I found new passions and forged new friendships. I love my children and my grandchildren, but my life doesn’t revolve around them, I have learned to put myself first and it feels good.
How about you? What will you do when facing an empty nest?