This following article is a guest post from my friend and a former co-worker way-back-when, Sheila Adell.
I know it’s supposed to be Empty Nest syndrome but what I am really wondering is “what’s next?”
There are countless parenting books on how to breast feed, potty train and home school your child but not a lot out there about parenting after age 18. It’s a scary and proud series of moments when your child is ready to go out into the world and start their own lives, and you are supposed to be ready to start figuring it out too.
My second and last child will turn 18, graduate from high school and go to college all within the next 6 months. My oldest went off to college 2 years ago, and I haven’t quite gotten over that yet. My emotions are a constant roller coaster ride from week to week. My husband and I are equally planning couple vacations and crying quietly in our pillows at night (he masks his crying with snoring).
I find I am remembering when my son learned how to ride a bike and my daughter took the car out for the first time. Both times, I watched them go around the corner and my heart sank because I had no idea what they were going to face. The empty nest is a lot like that, only scarier.
Just as my kids are going out into the world, so am I. Planning a life that doesn’t include daily meal preparations, hounding about homework or school drop off times is a little daunting. (I am kind of excited not to have to battle school drop offs anymore and, honestly, cereal for dinner every night might help me lose a few pounds.)
I am going to have my pre-marriage relationship with my husband back. We will have the freedom to stay out until 1:00am, take a trip out of town for the day, or go out to dinner in the middle of the week. It might look more like go to sleep at 5:00pm, drive to the next town over or spend our meals in front of the TV while stalking our kids on Facebook.
But I guess the point is that there are so many possibilities.
I remember both my stumbles and victories fondly when I started out. The biggest part of me is excited to see them try new things and succeed, fail and try again. Kind of like what I will be doing at the same time.
I know my role isn’t really changing. My father-in-law used to say “little kids – little problems, big kids – big problems.” They will always need me. I just wish I had those parenting books back now that told me how to bathe my children and when to get their shots. I would add a couple of phrases to the end of each chapter that say: “Don’t Blink, “It goes by so fast” and “You think you are filled with love and wonder now…Wait until they turn 18… It gets even better.”
Sheila Adell is a 40–ish mother of 2 who was born, raised and lives in Portland, Maine. She currently works for a health care facility in Portland as a Project Manager.