Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Parenting is hard: Empty nest edition

August 23, 2016

It's been almost a week since we dropped off the "little one" at TCU to begin his freshman year. It was difficult taking the oldest to college a couple years ago, but this time, coming back home to an empty house? This is hard. Takes-my-breath-away hard. I'm still processing it all, but here are my thoughts at five days post drop-off.

It really helps to hear encouraging words from parents who have gone through it before me, who reassure that it really will be okay. I believe you. I just don't feel it right now, but I trust and believe you. Thank you. I never would have made it through the past 21 years without parenting mentors, and I feel like your words now are more important than ever.

The best advice I've received puts the focus more on being happy and excited for the kids than being absorbed in my own sadness. I'm working on this. But it's hard.

I'm trying to reconcile coming to the end of two decades in which I identified first and foremost as a mom. Here's what really gets me in trouble -- thinking back too far into those 20 years. Remembering how Trevor used to mispronounce a word in a really cute way as a preschooler, or looking at Nate's first-day-of-kindergarten photos. I decided quickly that I had to stop this. Because it's enough to grieve that my 18-year-old just moved 12 hours from home. I can't also grieve the parts of their lives that really ended years ago. That is too heavy, too much to bear right now. I'll look at our family photo albums another time.

When we said goodbye to Nate last week, I left words of love and encouragement and faith in a card on his dorm room desk. It took me about three days to realize I should be telling myself the very same words.

But it's hard.


Christine Scar said...

You just did tell yourself that - you're still a wonderful parent - no matter they aren't under your roof 12 months of the year.

Bill Zahren said...

It's hard, but it gets easier ... eventually. At some point the positives of the empty nest will balance out the negatives. It just takes a while.