A year ago, my daughter was nearly finished with the first semester of her senior year of high school. She was looking forward to college, and I was looking forward to her going to college. Then six months ago, it felt as though she had ripped the rug from under our feet when she ran away and claimed she was “terrified” of us – with absolutely no warning, no fights, no problems to warn us of the impending accusations. Within half an hour, my dreams of dropping her off at college, sending her care packages, and hearing all about her experiences as a college freshman were destroyed. If that sounds selfish, it is. I wanted to be a college mom. I proudly wore my “CSC Mom” t-shirt every weekend. I bragged on her to anyone and everyone. I just knew she was going to be successful, whether she ended up as a high school band director or as a music store owner. I thought I was supporting and encouraging her dreams. I cried when she got the John Phillips Sousa Award at the spring band concert (as did she). So many happy memories . . .
It has been nearly six months since she left. I still want for her what I want for both my girls: for them to be happy, healthy, productive members of society. She’s young. There’s still plenty of time for that to happen. And that is what brings me to my point: there is plenty of time for her to find her way. That is up to her now. I cannot carry that load for her, no matter how badly I want to. The load I must carry is my own. I need to be a happy, healthy, productive member of society. That is what every Empty Nester needs to understand. We have been selfish on behalf of our children. We want the best for them, we want to do everything we can for them, we want to prepare them for life. But when they leave the nest, we must allow them to flutter, to test their wings, and eventually, to soar on the wind.
Our priorities shift from our children to ourselves when they leave the nest. And that isn’t a bad thing. In my case, it was akin to ripping a bandage off. Granted, it was a big friggin’ bandage and it left an exposed wound that still hasn’t healed, but at least it happened quickly. I hope that eventually we’re able to heal that wound, but for now, my focus is on my marriage and myself. It is time for my husband and I to get to know each other again, to plan for the future, and to nourish our dreams.
And that’s OK.