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Thankful Thursdays #60: finding joy in an empty nest

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Today I’m so pleased to introduce Gina of At Home My Way, who is guest posting for me today.  I almost titled this post, “Ding Dong The Kids Are Gone,” but that’s just my warped sense of humor and isn’t in keeping with the beautiful post Gina wrote about how she has been able to overcome the heartbreak of an empty nest and find joy in it, along with everything else that is happening in this chapter of her life.  This is something that I might never know, which is another reason I was so glad to have her fill in for me, because most of the population will go or has gone through this at some point, and I can’t address it from my own experience. Thank you Gina for helping a sister out! :)

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To say I was shocked when Veronica asked me to guest post on her blog is a huge UNDERSTATEMENT!  Wow!  I was so honored…. ALMOST rendered me speechless (note I said “almost”)… Those who know me know that I am rarely speechless. LOL.  I tried to think of something very specific that I am thankful for at this very moment.  Of course, I am always thankful for God and my family.  But, specifically something that I am particularly thankful for at this very moment is … that I am where I am! Sounds like the beginning of a Dr. Seuss book, huh? But, I AM thankful that I have made it to this point in my life; that I AM WHERE I AM.  Let me explain…

At this season of my life (I’m 45), my children are almost grown (well… one is, technically).  My husband and I both have good jobs with normal hours.  With that comes regular paychecks (need I say more?).  In this season of my life, I have all of my immediate family in the same state.  I have been blessed with wonderful in-laws.  There are just so many things that make me thankful for being who I am at this very moment, living with a mostly empty nest.

That’s not to say I was super happy about seeing these days arrive.  Oh no!  Upon dropping our younger daughter off at the University two hours from home, I cried like a baby all the way home.  Not just weepy – oh no!  I mean sobbing, hiccuping, crying like a big baby!  I sat in the dark for two days until my husband came in, opened the blinds, and coaxed me out.

The kicker is that I never saw it coming.  I have always worked full-time (plus commute time) so my daughters are fairly independent.  What I mean is that I had lots of life outside being a mom (or so I THOUGHT! LOL!).  But, when THEY LEFT?  Both of them?  Ickk – it was like a punch to the stomach.  In one of my crying jags when I went to start supper one night I told my husband, “bbbb-but, I don’t have anyone to cook for anymore.”  He chuckled (trying to calm me down) and said “Hey!  Don’t think this means the kitchen is closed.  The kitchen is NOT CLOSED!”

After only about five months, I am really warming to this idea of having grown children.  My days start out pretty quiet.  Days of rushing little ones out of bed, trying to get loads of laundry started or folded (before leaving the house at 7:15AM), finding uniforms, checking backpacks, delivering kids to school or babysitters, checking sports schedules, are gone.  My husband and I have only ourselves to get ready.  Wow!  Yes, I do miss those little ones.  I miss making bowls of Fruit Loops and packing Lisa Frank lunch boxes.  But man, it was quite chaotic at times and I’ll have to say I enjoy a reprieve from all that it took to be a working Mom.

*I am thankful for calm mornings.

The next thing I am thankful for is my husband’s new job.  My husband was always a self-employed contractor/carpenter.  He now is a building inspector in the city where I work, which means I no longer have to trek icy roads alone.  We ride together each morning (I tell him, he’s “driving Miss Daisy”).  There was a time when we hardly had five minutes alone with each other.  Now we not only get the commute to and from work, but we get to come home together.

* I am thankful for time alone with the man I still love to hang out with.

My parents always lived 1200 miles from me.  I prayed but knew there would never be a solution to how they would come home to me.  But, they did!  They retired in Missouri.  Not long after that, my brother and his wife made the journey back home.

*I am thankful for the time to spend with ALL of my family.

The final thing that I am most grateful for in this season of my life is that I have two bright, beautiful, and GOOD daughters!  So many kids are lost these days.  They have addictions and motivation problems.  There are families I know whose children are just so lost – and I am so very grateful that my girls are motivated, hard working, healthy, and happy!

* I am thankful that my daughters are terrific young women. 

When the day comes that you find your own nest empty.  Try not to focus on the unwanted change that is thrown upon you, but look around at all that you have accomplished and remember what it is like to be YOU.  And if you’re like me, its not long before the texts are chiming and the phones ringing and its one of your children saying, “Mom????? I know its 9PM and you are in your PJ’s, but I don’t want to go grocery shopping alone.  Will you go with me?”  (Sigh)… a mother’s work is never done.

Blessed is what I am – I have much to be thankful for!

Gina

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About Veronica

I have a kitchen addiction and love to collect & share recipes. My passion is baking but I love to cook as well. The only thing I don't like to do in the kitchen is wash dishes, but my husband generally does them for me in exchange for his dinner.

8 responses »

  1. I really enjoyed Gina , she had me from get goooooo …which I must say is hard but her blog was so cute , understanding,and spoke for many parents …Thanks Veronica

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  2. Great post Gina!! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Gina, I loved your post! Thanks for sharing your wisdom and insight (and joy!) with us!

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  4. What a wonderful guest post! But first, Veronica, thanks for your continued prayers this week – I really appreciate it!!

    My daughter is almost 20 years old – I was a single mom for the first 8 years of her life, so I intentionally made her independent. Once she was able to use the bathroom, if we were out and she had to go, I made her ask someone where it was.

    Today? She’s the most independent person I know – has a great head on her shoulders, and I am so proud of the woman she’s become.

    But she’s also going to school full time, works part time and babysits for 3 families in our neighborhood, so while we talk all the time via cell phone and texts, we probably only connect about 3 times a week.

    Glad you are starting to enjoy your new found freedom!

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  5. I’m currently in a similar situation with my son being in the Army and located in TX (I’m in MI). My nest though is still not empty because I have two neighbor kids, Katie age 9 and Tanner age 10, that spend alot of time at my house. In fact we all joke that I’m their 2nd Mom. Having them around leaves little time to dwell on the fact that my son is far away. And like you said, there are texts and phone calls and those are quite frequent :) So, yes lots to be thankful for! Great post Gina :)

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  6. I loved to read this post Gina. My kids are nearly all gone. Ive got one in college and one ready to go next year, and a 15 yo at home. My time is coming…and to be honest, every time I give it some thought, it terrifies me. I hope to be pleasantly surprised by the good stuff about being a mom to grown children, like you and I am happy that my relationship with my daughter has actually improved since she has left and become more independent.

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  7. Thank you all for the THANKS! I loved writing the post. The year prior to my children flying the coop was so stressful. I think getting through the “lasts” (tennis matches, term papers, school pictures, graduations, etc.) and anticipating all the change was driving me nutty, but I made it! My husband and I now enjoy our flexibility. We also love seeing that by giving our children wings (and raising them to be self sufficient adults) we now have the greatest sense of well being. We started out young and were pretty clueless but by being intentional parents and having lots of love in our home (as well as consistent consequences), we have carved out a great path for our girls. Sometimes little babies and small children combined with work and all the other responsibilities that come with it make for some pretty stressful moments. I wish someone could have conveyed to me that moving past the chaos was going to be such a relief and that my job as a mom would never truly end… . LOL. Blessings to you all!

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  8. Wow—where in the world have I been. I can’t believe I am just now reading the Thankful Thursday post. Great guest! Veronica—you picked out a great guest blogger in Gina. ALL of our family is now out of state and spread out. They all moved away from us—sort of gives one a complex of sorts. :) We all do our best to get together but it has been a while. I think a trip (or two) is needed. Gina—I bet you are proud of your two daughters. Great job in raising such good girls.

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