Anyone who knows me knows I like my nest full. My favorite time is when the kids and my Hubs are in bed asleep, all under the same roof. Sometimes I stay up late just to feel this time. The house is quiet and calm. The dogs lay by my side on the family room rug, one's head resting on my lap, the other's back pushed firmly against my outstretched leg. I can hear my own breathing. And I love knowing everyone is right where they should be. Home.
But it's been a while since we've had a night like that. My nineteen year old has been gone for a year now and my youngest just went off to school. (The picture above is us moving him into his dorm room last week). And now I'm navigating nights that are not as I'd like them to be. But I'm coming to the conclusion that these new nights are just as they should be.
Don't miss the distinction there. It's important.
The nights are not as I'd like them to be, but they are just as they should be.
Last week, I wrote about preparing my youngest birdie to fly and the feeling I had, which I call "exsaded." (Click here for that.) I still feel that way: excited for him and sad for me. But now that the mama-trauma of drop off is easing, I also feel a shift.
I find myself realizing that I need to follow the same advice I gave my boy (with a few bits added for my own benefit):
Expect good things to come of this. Seek good things in this.
Make an effort to meet new people. Learn what you can from them while staying true to yourself.
Put yourself out there. This is a time to try new things, even if you're not sure you'll like them.
Be patient when times get tough. They won't stay hard forever and hard is the incubator of growth.
Make this time is about you. There's no sense fighting it. Jump in the deep end and embrace it all.
Pat yourself on the back for moving into this new way. It's not easy. But just keep taking one small step and then another. With every step, remind yourself you're doing it. You're actually getting through this.
Be kind to yourself. Take care of yourself. Love yourself. No matter what else is going on.
Yes, there are days I want to wallow in the missing of my boys. Yes, there are days I'm afraid of what's next for me and I wonder how my husband and I will navigate this new normal without the glue of children. Yes, I question where my rejuvenated career will lead me.
There is much that is unknown and while that feels new, it isn't. Not really. Nothing in the future is truly known. It's all hope and fear and speculation. And those aren't real. They are only the makings of my imagination, something that usually serves me well. Except at times like these.
What I'm seeing more clearly now in week two of empty nesting is that, while my son is off to school, I, too am a born-again student. Life is my teacher and this new stage, with all of its possibilities and anxieties, is my classroom. Like my boy who is lit up like Christmas in his new school, may I also be an enthusiastic learner as I find a new way of being inside the nest and go deeper into my life outside of it.
Peace and love, Underdogs!