My kids don’t plan on living near me forever. It’s one of Ikuni’s life goals to live in Japan. Wordsmith and Drummer are determined to be Canadian residents. And Gamer wants to live wherever he can be a game tester, but preferable near an ocean.
How do I feel about this? On the one hand, thrilled. I want my children to be happy, and I fully support their ambitions. There’s also a selfish part of me that desires unlimited time to do whatever I want to do. But, on the other hand, saddened. Not only are my kids my kids, but I can honestly say they’re my friends, too. I enjoy their company. They’re all smart, interesting, funny, and are wonderful conversation partners.
Sure, they have their moments. I won’t miss the occasional slamming door, the ease with which they ignore piles of dirty dishes and laundry, or the fact that they can be terribly nasty to each other sometimes. But, overall, I truly like having them around. I’m not sure how to describe it, really. Being with them is simply…electric. We are all passionate people, with myriad interests and ideas. I will very much miss the current that runs through our home.
Sigh. I foresee a lot of emails, phone calls, and the purchasing of plane tickets in my future.
UPDATE (August 2015): Almost ten years later all four kids are still in the area! Wordsmith, Drummer, and Gamer have their own homes, but Ikuni (now 25) lives with me, so I’ve not yet experienced a true empty nest.
How to avoid Empty Nest Syndrome if and when I do face a home devoid of children?
I’ve read that sometimes a parent allows her identity to become wrapped up in her kids. When there are no children in the home to care for, she may feel a sense of loss and confusion as to who she is and what she’s suppose to do with her life. She may need to redefine herself after her children fly the nest.
Ideally, we should work on maintaining a separate identity while our children are at home. This can be a challenge for the busy mom or dad who are overwhelmed with strollers, play dates, and dance classes.
But here are 2 suggestions:
1. Take a few minutes while the kids are occupied (plunk them down in front of a favorite film if you need to) and list interests and/or activities you might like to explore on your own, apart from your kids.
2. Pick one and get involved now, before your children leave home. Become a little selfish and make time for your pursuits. Even if it’s just ten minutes here and there. I used to read for my own pleasure while nursing the baby. I got a lot read during those times!
Julie Bogart addresses this well. She’s been instrumental (as my friend and now as my boss) in helping me nurture my own passions. It was conversations with her and other like-minded women that encouraged my love of the arts and led me to start this blog in the first place.
So, we’ll see what the future holds. I’m not sure when I may have an actual empty nest. But, if that time comes, I feel confident that I’ve carved out my own identity beforehand.
Well, at least pencil sketched it.