Empty Nest

It is that time of year–Back to School. When the kids were home, I dreaded this time each year. …just not being in control of their schedule…..as much…time was more dictated by their school demands and sports. And, as they went away to college, which meant leaving home, I really hated it.

I tanked when I experienced it for the first time…..but I found some comfort when Brewer left for Clemson knowing I still had two more at home….for a while. What I didn’t realize was how the dynamics of our home would change as the nest started to empty…..It was different and looking back it was nothing I could really prepare for..it was something I had to live through and learn to adapt to it.

Living through sending your kids out of the nest, whether sending them off to college or out into the working world, it is a very difficult thing, or at least it was for me and for most of my friends…..it left me feeling odd……. kind of lost, empty, concerned….it was an unusually strange time for me.

I felt emotions I had never felt before. It is very hard to put into words….one thing I didn’t realize was that when our first child left….not only did Bill and I grieve…but so did Thomas and Collins. I am thankful that we have had a close family. I love that our children are close…very close…for siblings.

If you are experiencing anything like I have described, I would like to offer some encouragement that helped me.

I would write or email Brewer, knowing that he would be busy…and may not be able to always respond. The writing was narrative therapy for me. I also planned times to visit…so that we all had something to look forward to….and I also tried not to hover over the other two….and drown them….with my extra time. I was able to give them a little more attention which they seemed to embrace. Over time we discovered a “new normal.”

I did reach out to my friends more and leaned heavily on those who had walked before me. I learned…from them…I found comfort, too, in knowing that…..my feelings were not abnormal. They had felt the same way. The people that helped me the most were the ones who “validated” my feelings and didn’t dismiss them as “Oh….get use to it!”…people who understood when I expressed my sadness and invited me to lunch or us over for dinner…or sent a text…those people “actually bandaged my wounds!” and nourished me!!! They were putting Titus 2:3-4 into practice in a practical way–helping those who were coming behind them. “Older women…They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women…”

When the last one, Collins, left the nest…..the house was for sure…..STRANGELY QUIET…our boys would agree……when Collins is not home….….you notice it. She does bring that noise and girly activity….and commotion….that even though the boys may roll their eyes at….if honest…they would admit….they love it. Thus, as they left, one by one….the feelings I felt back when our first left the nest were greatly magnified….as each of our children took flight and left!

Collins, the girl being last….was….a crash for me! Now I had much time on my hands…wise counsel recommended I talk with my kids and encouraged me to visit them…NOT to become what you read about–those moms who turn into “helicopter” moms, but to visit often in the beginning, if they were ok with it.

Thankfully, they were ok with visits. They all were sensitive…to me somewhat finding myself unemployed! Wise counsel also…pointed me to God and evoking a more prolonged quiet time. Seeking a Holy God for the Back 9 of life…I was encouraged that God was not done with me….that HE had a significant plan, a hope and a future….. Praise God for that advice and that I took it……it has been in that prolonged and intentional quiet time….that my soul has been nourished and God brought about in me the attitude we hear Mandisa sing about, “It’s a good morning!”

Yes, over time….not overnight…God has orchestrated a beautiful Back 9 for me……from writing and publishing one book with the second due out this Thanksgiving, to a public speaking ministry with multiple speaking engagements this fall and spring, to having young children and mothers in my life to love on…to helping people feel better, look better and perform better with Advocare. This all came about over the last 5 years. Some days are so busy that my kids will call and say, “Are you ok? I haven’t heard from you today.” Or, “Why haven’t you texted me back?” That is really funny….seriously….it is a strange, very strange day for them….if I don’t immediately respond to our kids…they know I always drop everything to put on my “MOMMY CAPE” and gladly do it!

So my advice to you, if you can relate to anything I am writing…..allow me to be wise counsel in your life…….God’s not done….with you!

He has a significant plan for you in the Back 9…..email your kids. Go see them with their permission. Get to know their new friends. Fill that empty time with prolonged time with God who wants to give you HIS “new normal” for your life. Listen and step out of your comfort zone and move on what He tells you even if you don’t feel qualified, which is how I felt….just trust and obey.

Maybe consider how you can put Titus 2 into action.

God will not disappoint….be willing to be an example of God equipping the called. He will call you and HE will equip you…..He is capable….and willing to give you a “NEW DAY!”

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