I was talking to a friend today and we were discussing what it means to be an empty nester after having been a full time stay at home mother for so many years. The phrase empty nester conjures up a feeling for many people. For some it is apprehension and for others it represents possibilities.
Being parents of college age kids my husband and I will presumably be empty nesters now for the rest of our lives. At least that’s what we hope -lol -although today many kids come back to live at home after college.
So what does it mean to be an empty nester? Of course now that means something different than it will mean in two years, four years, etc. For me, right now there is a different cadence to each day and to the year as a whole. My day is no longer governed by the school day nor my year by the public school calendar. Instead my year follows the college calendar. Each day that my kids are away at college means that the day is my own. I don’t have to be back home by 3pm or even home making dinner at 6pm. I have huge flexibility to each day and I get to decide what my time schedule is. Some people would be scared by this but for me it has been like an adventure. I have been able to rediscover things that I love like going to museums, attending broadway shows, browsing art galleries, knitting, getting more involved in charitable work, hanging with friends, etc.
I realize that each stage in life brings change and I think instead of resisting I have made a conscious decision to embrace the change and go with it. Of course, there are negatives that have popped up. I no longer am on the same schedule as some friends who still have school age children so it takes more effort to keep in touch. Apropos of that I have had to reevaluate friendships and realize that in some cases I no longer have things in common with some. But I think that happens throughout life. We all move on with our lives and sometimes circumstances dictate some friendships. In addition, some things I was involved in throughout the years when my kids were in public school no longer hold my interest; but instead of lamenting that I have moved on.
Of course, I don’t want to appear flippant in my attitude. This new stage has certainly been an adjustment but I am usually a glass is half full type person and so I am trying to apply that general attitude to my new lifestyle!
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