We’re right in the middle of the 2019 holiday season. Did your Thanksgiving start off the season with lots of good food, friends, and family? Or, did you spend it without a loved one? I did both.
This time of year can be harder once you become an empty nester. Many of the fun traditions that you established when your kids were young are no longer part of your lives. They’ve grown, moved out and started their own lives. Your daily life & your holidays have changed too!
My daughter is currently living on the other side of the US in New Mexico. I live in South Carolina. Thank goodness for the occasional video chat so that I can see her smiling face. That physical distance between us is even harder during the holidays. She didn’t make it home for Thanksgiving and I’m very grateful to her boyfriend & his family for sharing their Thanksgiving with her. It made it a little easier to not have her at our family gathering, but I still missed her!
My son did make it to the holiday gathering. He flew in from his college in Florida and my son & I made it to the holiday gathering in Tennessee.
However, my husband had to stay at home due to work obligations and this meant that we were scattered in several states for this holiday. Not the way we really wanted it for sure.
As my kids get more established in their lives after moving out of our house, it gets harder to get everyone together. This makes me miss the days when they were still living at home. I had no trouble getting us all in the same state then!
I am so proud of my kids! They are setting up their lives so that they will be doing something that is meaningful to them. But, it’s bittersweet when that means we don’t get to see each other very often.
What I find happens is that I miss my kids when they are in their new lives. I look forward to our times together. I relish the memories that we make & I enjoy being a part of their lives in a closer way.
However, I also am enjoying my time as an empty nester. I get to focus on my own wants & needs in a way that I couldn’t do when my kids were young. That mean that I’m setting up my schedule for me instead of around the kids activiites. That also means that I’m eating what I want, when I want it instead of staying with a fixed routine because my kids did better with a fixed routine.
Now, when my kids are away from home, I find myself looking forward to them being home. And, when my kids are at home, I find myself happy to return to this state of focusing on my own needs & wants again. It feels selfish both ways.
So, it’s harder to get us all together now and it takes more effort to make it happen. I miss them when they are gone & I look forward to my alone time again when we’ve been together for awhile.
That’s not confusing at all…
This time of life can be full of contradictions. Many moms find that they want to return to the time when their kids were younger. These same moms are enjoying a new career, hobby or downtime when their kids are gone. We want to return to the past & we are happy in the present. We’re often filled with mixed emotions. We’re sad to be apart but we also miss our time to ourselves when we’ve been around our kids for awhile.
It sounds a bit messy & it is. It’s also normal. I’ve heard from many other moms who have experienced what I’m describing. They often feel guilty for enjoying their own lives and at the same time miss their kids. It’s not always easy to navigate this path. It helps to speak with others about it. So, find someone else who is an empty nester & share what you are feeling. You’ll feel better when you do. In early 2020, I’ll be offering support for empty nesters through a group program. If you’d like to hear about it when it launches, then click here.
We’ve just started the holiday season. Be kind to yourself as you navigate all of the ups and downs that come with this time of year. Know that it’s normal to simultaneously miss your kids and your own life at the same time. Take it one day at a time!