My children were born 15 months and seven days apart. They naturally have a tendency to do everything at the same time. That includes leaving home. Within a six-month period, both of my adult children moved out. For 19 years I had been in 24-hour mommy mode. Then all of a sudden I found myself parenting from an empty nest. How do you even do that?
Learn to Let Go
As a mom, the hardest part for me was learning to let go. I didn’t shelter my children; they went on trips and spent time away from home whenever they had the opportunity. I always knew they were coming home when the trip or visit was over. Parenting from an empty nest doesn’t give you that same feeling of peace. For the first few months I still wanted, or should I say needed to see them every day. That did not happen; so I called them several times a day. Yes, I was annoying! It’s hard not to smother your newly adult children with your normal blanket of parental care. It has been ten months now since my daughter moved away from home and I am finally learning to let go. I don’t panic when I don’t hear from them every day. I realize that my days of protecting them are over and I have to let them spread their wings and fly away.
Parenting Only When They Need a Parent
No matter how old your children are or how far away they go they will always need you to be their parent. Your parenting role may have changed from strict instructor to wise adviser, but they still need your guidance. Last month I helped my son plan his wedding and get married in just three days. This morning I sat in the kitchen with my daughter and helped her make a packing list for her first parent-free camping trip. You can’t tell your adult children how to do everything, but, you can be there for them when they need a parent.
Enjoy Your Time Together
It’s really easy to slip into your old parenting habits when spending time with your adult children. Doing this can cause tension and hard feelings. I have learned to ask, “are you sure you want to do that?” instead of just saying, “That is unacceptable behavior.” I now enjoy the time I spend with my adult children. I love mom and daughter movie nights and going out to dinner with my son and daughter-in-law.
According to my own mother, “parenting never ends.” Children grow up and move away from home. They become adults and proudly live their own lives. How do we as parents survive? We learn how to continue parenting from our empty nest.