When birds build their nests, they instinctively know that they will have to build a new nest, or remodel their nest for a place to abide when the birds fly the coupe. One of the things that many women struggle with is what we call the “empty nest syndrome.” As an empty nester for over 10 years, I know the syndrome well. Fortunately, I have learned to build a new nest instead of sorrowing over the fact that my baby nest is empty.
I believe that one of the reasons women do struggle so much is because we, unlike our bird friends, do not prepare or even consider that we will have a need for a different type of nest. From the minute, our babies are conceived they are in our hearts to stay – nothing separates us from the love that we have for our children. However, every step in life is a step towards our children leaving the nest.
- They leave the womb
- They sleep in their own beds
- They begin to crawl and walk
- They go to school, get involved in sports and get jobs
- They learn to drive
- They go to college
- They get married and establish their own homes
Isn’t it amazing that it can be reduced to just 7 simple points? Of course at first, our children are so completely dependent on us – for everything! Little by little, they eat on their own, they go potty on their own, they learn to read and think on their own, they spend more and more time away from us – and yet, we are never ready to let them go!
So, how can we fix this?
Well, first of all, no matter how prepared we are we will still miss our “babies” and always fondly remember the cute little munchkins and miss that special time in our lives. So, just to be clear, this is in no way any kind of lesson on how to “not be sad” when our kids move away…that ain’t gonna happen! But – what I am trying to accomplish is to help other ladies have a fulfilling life so that the emptiness is an accepted and anticipated life with a prepared nest. So, here goes.
1. Make sure you have a walk with God and ask Him to direct your thoughts, to comfort your heart, and to fill the emptiness you feel
2. Always, always, always remember that you and your husband were sweethearts before the kids, you married and became one, and when the kids are gone it will be the two of you once again – so keep the romance alive!
3. Have a ministry that you love and are willing to invest your time and talents to grow
4. Have a good communicating relationship with your kids
a. Spend time listening to them without always have to correct their opinions
b. Support and encourage them in their plans and dreams
c. Pray, pray, pray for them and let them know you’re praying for them – so get requests from them. (and I don’t mean that every time they tell you something you don’t like that you respond by saying, “I am praying for you” so that they feel judged more than loved and covered by God’s protection and guidance)
5. Make plans for things you’d like to do when you have no kids in your home – and as the time approaches, begin to prepare for implementation
6. Pray and ask God to give you grace for your new life
7. When the last one leaves, go on a vacation with your hubby to establish your new life without kids
Now, with all of that said, please remember that it is never easy to let your kids go…and the further they go, the harder it is. The Lord was very gracious to us in allowing us to have all of our married children close to us for the first many years that our kids were married. Then, in 2008, things changed! Our youngest son and his family moved from California, and being our nearest neighbor, all the way to North Carolina! Honestly, the day we took them to the airport and had to say “goodbye” still brings tears to my eyes. For the first several months, every time I spoke to them on the phone I cried because my heart yearned so deeply to have them near. In time, the Lord helped me to appreciate the precious time we do spend together, and I am so thankful that He has allowed us to visit them at the very least once a year for 10 days or so.
For the last several years we have lived 90 miles away from our 3 other children families, and my husband has been great at making sure we could visit them very regularly – and so even though they were not living in our neighborhood, or serving together with us in church, we have been able to have our children in our lives in spite of the miles. Last night we said our very tearful and sad goodbyes as another one of our kids’ families is moving to North Carolina to begin a new chapter as staff members at a very good church there. In my heart, I am happy for their life choices, but feel so sad that they will be so far away!
The empty nest is an adjustment because we feel a loss and by definition “empty” is a sad word.
Empty: containing nothing; having none of the usual or appropriate contents;
Have a wonderful day!