When you have done your job as a parent, one of the most bittersweet moments is when the nest empties. Your kids, burnished by the confidence and knowledge you have given them, head off to begin their adult lives. While this is a tough moment for any parent, it comes with an opportunity to look anew at life and think about what this new stage means for you. You’re still a parent, and still going to be there for your kids – but this is a new lease of independence for you as well as them.
Finding the “new” you
Without any regret about the time spent being a mom, we can all acknowledge that some parts of life you enjoyed before parenthood had to be mothballed when kids came into your life. Some of those elements might not be you anymore, but others will be worth exploring now you have some more time to spare. Maybe it will be painting or gardening, maybe it will be dance or a sport you’ve always enjoyed. If there is some element of your pre-kid life you’ve looked back on wistfully, now is the time to think about it more seriously.
Investing in you
It may be worth preceding this with the reality that your days of funding your children probably aren’t over – but with an empty nest, there will come some additional disposable income, and it’s worth taking the opportunity to indulge on the wants and needs you sacrificed when school books and lunches had to be bought. Spur-of-the-moment holidays and premium round cut diamonds that you had to covet from afar are now back on the table. As are night classes and adult learning opportunities; now you can take the time to teach yourself something you’ve always wanted to learn.
There is one part of all of us that gets exercised when we have kids, and that’s our empathy and desire to build a better world. That’s not going to disappear when your kids move out, and neither should it. You can take some of the free time – a few hours per week – to take up a cause you’ve always felt deeply about. Your love for your kids and your determination to see them have the best possible future is never going to reduce; you will find, however, that you have a surplus that can be put to perfect use by working for a better world not just for them and for you, but for everyone.
Being a mom changes you in so many ways, and on balance it is certainly for the better. When you are no longer spending every day performing the many roles inherent in being a parent, you’ll find that there is an opportunity to take what parenthood has taught you, mix it with things you already knew, and add some new experiences. The result will be a you that isn’t entirely new, but which has a new lease on life – and this can make for the most thrilling stage of life yet.