I have a blended family with three of the greatest teens a parent could ask for. I love all three of them so much, each one so very different from the other. We have a 16-year-old and twins who are 19. Over the last two years, my husband and I have been discussing our upcoming golden years and plans for when we become well-deserving empty nesters.
We both agree that we will sell our 4,000-square-foot home and downsize to a location without stairs. We have elderly parents and stairs are a problem for them. Note taken: best to retire stair-less. I want an elaborate high-rise with a restaurant, nail salon, pool and full-service concierge. My husband is not so sure about the high-rise, but agrees to a single-level bungalow within a self-contained community of some sort.
My point is, I have been excited about the idea of not having to worry about the kids’ dinner, football practice and so many other responsibilities we have as parents. We would be free to travel and do whatever we want. I thought there must be something wrong with me that I wasn’t regretting the day where I could travel the world with my husband, without anything holding us back.
Back to school, back to college. The summer is over in the blink of an eye. Every year I find myself saying, “The summer break keeps getting shorter and shorter.” When the twins graduated from high school two years ago, I was so excited and proud of them. They are both about to start their sophomore year in college, one at Georgia State and the other at Georgia Tech. Even though these two are my stepchildren, I felt an enormous amount of emotion about them starting on their own and heading off to college. It weighed me down for a couple of weeks, and then the calls started, “I need this,” and “I still need that.” Even though they were off to college, we were not counted out quite yet. I thought, okay, being an empty nester won’t be so bad. What are all the tears about? Easy for me to say. I still have one at home.
Then, last Wednesday, our youngest started his junior year at Walton High School, and when I dropped him off for his first day, it hit me. The tears started streaming like it was his first day of kindergarten. I couldn’t catch my breath. Immediately fear washed over me and I felt a sense of real panic. Next year, he will be a senior, driving himself to school, and then he will be gone. Wow. The feeling was so overwhelming. The excitement of soon becoming an empty nester was gone. Can you imagine what I will feel when the day comes? I realized then, that I will be a mess for a short period of time, much like my friends that are currently becoming empty nesters. It will take a lot of getting used to. I love being a mom so much. I guess that doesn’t stop. It just changes.
To all the empty nesters out there, it is encouraging to see you get through it, as I prepare for the day to soon come myself. I will reflect on all of you that have made it through and are currently making it through this transition. I will remember that I will always be a mom and just because the kids don’t live with us anymore, they will continue to call and need us for this or that. In the meantime, I will continue to plan on the day that my husband and I become well-accomplished, well-deserving empty nesters, traveling the world together.