The Empty Nester
Four seasons in life create a plethora of emotions for mothers: the day her child is born, the day her child graduates from high school, the day her child gets married, and the day her child becomes a parent. A couple of these transitions can be very painful because they may also mean the child is leaving home permanently.
As moms, often we know it’s time for them to leave and we want them to establish their own autonomy and independence, but an overwhelming sense of emptiness—a loss indescribable—envelopes us. We struggle with whether we’ve done enough to prepare our kids for the adult world. We’re badgered with a looming sense of regret: “Surely I could have done a better job!” We have less than perfect moments in our memory box of raising them. In addition, we wrestle with our own motherly feelings, “What? I carried you in my tummy for nine months, tended to your every scrape for eighteen years and all of a sudden I’m just supposed to let you go?” Life can feel so cruel, can’t it?
When my two children left home after graduation, I struggled. I remember Jason’s dad coming from Utah to pick him up because he was moving to his father’s town. I’ll never forget them driving out of the driveway. I can still picture Jason’s arm hanging out the window waving goodbye. I cried for days! Then two years later, I dropped Sara off at the University of Oklahoma. The 45-minute drive home felt like eternity.
Yet, I have discovered that God is NOT finished with our roles as mothers. In fact, just because the children are out of the house does not mean they don’t need us anymore. Quite the opposite. They need us even more now than ever—just in different ways.
So in the meanwhile what’s an empty nester to do? Maybe these four ideas will help.
l. Envision God’s love as their safety net. God is good. We can be assured God will use both the good and the bad episodes in our children’s growing years to mold them into the men and women He designed them to be.
2. Pray. They will face challenges, obstacles, temptations, and life choices that offer wonderful blessings or astute consequences. Ask God to strengthen, protect, and direct them. Then do yourself the biggest favor ever. Let go and leave the results to God.
3. Provide a refuge. Determine to make your home a safe place for them to return for advice. Be prepared to watch them make mistakes as they try to figure it all out. It serves them well when they know you are there to always point them to God’s truth. You have not said “good-bye” to them. They will return to your nest for multiple reasons.
4. Embrace God’s plan for you. Take heart, empty nester. This season can be an evolution in ways you had not expected. It might be the impetus you need to make changes in your own life. Or it might be a season for pursing life in ways you previously were not able to explore and enjoy.
Whatever the case, you can trust God for the days ahead and rest assured that God is up to something good.
For I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6