When Your Child Leaves Home & The Empty Nest

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samcyn“Oh, you’re an empty nester? You must be so lonely!” “Oh, she moved to ENGLAND??? You must be devastated!” “She’s gone for TWO years? How will you ever cope?”

These are the comments I’ve received in the past few months from well-meaning friends and family when they found out that my daughter and son-in-law would be moving to the UK to work for a couple years. I’ve heard it over and over again and yet, each time, it really comes as a bit of a shock. First of all, who SAYS that to someone? Are those questions and comments supposed to be helpful? Secondly, it doesn’t really reflect how I’m feeling at all.

I wrote another post back on Mother’s Day about how I was feeling at that time, thinking ahead to her wedding, graduation from Teacher’s College, and moving away to the UK. I thought it would be appropriate to follow up now that she’s been gone for a month. You see, my reaction when my daughter told me she had received a job offer to teach in the UK and would be moving there for a couple years was “OH MY GOSH I’M SO EXCITED FOR YOU!”  Seriously. It wasn’t me sobbing my eyes out and it wasn’t me sinking into a depression. And it still isn’t. She’s living out a dream. What more could I want for my child?

Did I think I would miss her? Of course! Do I miss her? Of course! But I’m not sitting around, waiting for her to come back to Canada so I can begin my life again. To be honest, not only is my daughter faced with all kinds of amazing opportunities now that she’s working in the UK but I feel like there are some opportunities waiting for me now too. Does that sound selfish? I don’t mean it to be. Ideally, she’d be living across town or a few hours away but that isn’t our reality. So, why shouldn’t we both be taking full advantage of the situation and trying to get as much out of it as we possibly can?

As for those well-meaning comments, perhaps we should all be trying to encourage each other instead of potentially adding to any sadness a soon-to-be or current empty nester is feeling. Asking me how I feel about it instead of projecting emotions onto me is a much better approach. (Think empathy not sympathy!) Rejoicing with me over my daughter’s awesome opportunity is great too. I also really appreciate those who have asked me what I plan to do while she’s away – in a positive way that acknowledges that this new phase in my life can be celebrated rather than mourned. It’s important that we give our children roots and wings – it’s also important that we allow both of those precious gifts for ourselves.

What about you? What are you feeling about the empty nest?

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