My baby isn’t a baby anymore!
As I sit here looking out the window at another glorious day here in Canterbury, I reminisce about the time long passed where my babies were completely dependent on me for their well being. A time where I was their whole world, a world which they thought revolved around them and maybe it did. A time where I consciously gave up my desire to follow my passion to focus on being there for them 100%. A time when the last thing you think about is having an empty nest.
My entire focus was on them and their well being. I made sure they were happy, clothed, well fed, warm and had access to sports, dance, school activities, positive role models and more. Perhaps I overcompensated then due to the fact that their father, was not a reliable role model and did not play an active role in their lives, has had very little to do with them since they were born.
Either way, one child will tell you that she never had everything she ever wanted even though on the outside some will tell you that she did. Considering our situation I believe wholeheartedly that I did my absolute best with them and with the resources I had access to at the time.
Fast forward to today and I am pondering over the impending empty nest that the departure of my youngest child, who is about to embark on a journey, will create which will see him spread his wings and grow into the fine young man that he is. I am not looking forward to his departure and am full of sadness and longing. Don’t get me wrong, I am super excited for him to venture into this next phase of his life while at the same time I am sad that he will not be around to talk to everyday and comfort him when he needs it.
Our role as parents.
Although I have two children, this is the first time I am experiencing these emotions as his older sister left home unexpectedly and as a consequence I went through a very different set of emotions. I grieved for the loss of a child although the child was and still is very much alive.
This time I have had plenty of time to prepare myself for an empty nest which is far better than having no time at all. These last few weeks are spent talking with him and guiding him through his decisions. They are spent focusing on the positives rather than the negatives and although I will not miss his mess there are plenty of things I will miss.
Our role as parents are to guide our children on their journey and along the way we help build their foundations that will help them to survive when they are on their own. We build their morals and values and ethics to become valued members of society who will hopefully contribute to it and make the world a better place for having them in it.
While doing this we forget that our role will change and become one of support from a distance rather then at close range. We will still be there to support them and guide them, just not within the same home. Unless of course your adult children still live in the same house as you. Then your role is somewhat blurred as you identify a new dynamic and adjust accordingly.
What I took for granted was just how quickly time goes by. I forgot to take in precious moments that occurred along the way and value them for what they were, teachable moments. I forgot that one day they would no longer need me as they did when they were children. I forgot to focus on my needs as well as their own so they when they left home I would be ok.
The past 20 years has taught me that no matter how much you love someone or how much time you invest in them, there are no guarantees that things will work out as planned. Children develop their own sense of beliefs and will make their own decisions regardless of what you have taught them. They develop a sense of independence and possibly even some form of rebellion as they begin to test the boundaries.
The best thing we can do as parents is to leave the lines of communication open and let them know we are there for them no matter what they do. If it all turns to custard, they can always come home.
I am about to face an empty nest and for the first time I can see that my children are not mine to keep. They are my gift to the world. Russell and I look forward to watching him on this next phase of his journey. While my nest may about to become empty, my heart is full.
And if you are about to experience an empty nest too, know that the position of helicopter Mum has come to an end and your new role of background Mum has just begun. Be kind to yourself, you are allowed to shed many tears but don’t let them fall on the new sheets you purchased for the now spare room.
Next week I am going to talk about how the empty nest will affect our relationship. Until then, have a great week.