This current life change is moving from Mom to mother in law & empty nester. Well, sort of empty nester, my biologic children have all grown and moved out. I am still mom to my stepson, son, Sawyer. (We don’t really like the whole "step" word and we love our kids as our own) But, the enormous role of getting my kids grown, out of the house, able to provide for themselves and successful after Kris died is done. Whoa, done. I’m done?
I sit here trying to figure out how to describe the myriad of feelings and emotions. Word can’t really describe it. I’ll give you what comes up for me.
I feel so happy and proud as a parent – both of my boys are doing so great. They are such terrific young men. I’m thrilled to have gained a wonderful daughter and family. Finally, a girl.
I’m relieved that I’m not terrified we won’t make it through the grief and dark days that followed Kris's death. I no longer live in fear that my kids or I will never make it after Kris died. OK, sure I still worry about them but God (Divine/Universe) really has this. So far it’s going great for us all. Life is really sweet & full of blessings. My heart is full.
I have a deep profound sense of sadness that their dad, Kris, wasn’t here for all of this. He is so missed. He’d be so proud. How would he have reacted? What would he do and say? We’ll never know.
I also feel concern, what will happen now, are they able to provide for themselves and live a life of passion and in love? Life in today’s world is challenging. Adulting is hard and they are still so young. They have so much to learn and experience. I pray that they are safe, happy, and keep God #1.
I desire a role in their lives and hope they will keep coming to mom to ask questions and have a relationship. How do I stay in relationship? Do I call, text, visit? How often is too often? What’s enough?
I feel weird, unsettled, and in a place of OK, now what? What do you do after you are “complete” with parenting. That place you always hoped you’d be and happy to see them fly out of the nest. But now it’s here? How’d that happen?
I know you are never done parenting but I also know that relationship changes now. I don’t want to be the psycho mom or mother in law that clings to her baby, is manipulative, crazy, mean, ruins the relationship or smothers them. I don’t want to be over needy to my children. I want them to go and do their thing knowing mom is right there behind them. Nor do I want to be too hands off and lose the relationships.
Empty nester? Doesn’t seem to fit, it’s a place I thought I’d be when I was old. I don’t feel old. There is a sense of relief, happiness. But there is a sense of sadness. That phase of life is over – we made it. Now what?
I know there’s a “new normal” we will have to craft together as a family. Change is normal and a part of life. It’s how you choose to respond that makes the biggest impact. Just because I know it, coach it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with the challenges as well. It’s just plain weird in a good happy and sort of sad wistful way.
So what will I do to adapt to this latest life change? I will attempt to follow my own advice I give my clients. :)
1. Take some time to be with my feelings.
- What are my feelings? I just wrote some of them above. Journaling and blogging is one way I write them and process them.
- How do you process your feelings?
- I’ll spend some much needed time in nature and the beach reflecting this summer.
2. Write down everything I’ve “lost” and “gained” with this change.
3. Take time to mourn those losses and celebrate the gains surrounding this change.
4. Seriously consider – What is most important in these relationships?
5. What does that adult relationship look like with my kids?
6. What do I want and need?
7. What do they want and need?
8. How will we choose to interact, visit, communicate, and be in this new life?
Do you want some support during a life change? Maybe you know someone that may benefit from support? I partner with motivated people that have been knocked down by life changes and losses who want to become more resilient and move forward in life. It can be unnerving to wonder what do I do now? Check out Now What? ® 90 Days to a New Life Direction if you’d like support or contact me about coaching.
Let’s all roll with life’s changes and live with peace and joy!
Special love, peace and blessings to my amazing children, new daughter in law, friends and family (new and old) as we embark on this new life of changes together!
Peace, Love, & Blessings,
Teresa Bitner, PMP, M. Ed., ACC
Resiliency, Change and Loss Specialist
Resiliency, Change and Relationship Resources
All Book available on: http://www.boldfulfilledlifecoach.com/books.html
The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life – Dr. Henry Cloud & John Townsend.
How to Survive Change…You Didn’t Ask For – M.J. Ryan
The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
Resources & Articles:
Empty Nest: http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr03/pluses.aspx
Empty Nest Syndrome
4 Things They Will Never Tell You About Empty Nest Syndrome:
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