Carolyn Hax: What will this parent do once the kids graduate and move out?

Carolyn Hax: What will this parent do once the kids graduate and move out?

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyne: I am lucky to have two very good teenagers in my last years of high school. At this stage of parenthood, I find myself with more free time (they drive themselves, don’t want to hang out with me too much, have a healthy social life, etc.) and I realize how different things will be when ‘they will both leave. the nest.

And that scares me a little. I don’t remember exactly who I am without carpooling, youth sports, and school. Most other parents I’m around either have a giant list of things to do after kids and can’t wait to get started, or are super sentimental and can’t wait to move on. I don’t have a to-do list and I also try not to get too emotional about positive, natural progression.

I realize that I will have to rediscover myself and have my own life. I guess I’m looking for someone to tell me that I will survive this transition and find a new me. And I feel bad asking this question, knowing I’m in a lucky situation, but I feel like the next five years will be totally empty – what should I do after work once they get going ?!

Empty nest anxiety: Nothing. And yes, the blank canvas is always the scariest part of the project.

But if all you want is assurance that you’ll get through this, then thanks for that softball question. You will manage. Because it’s either that or collapse, just like when you first brought your first child home, and you had no idea what you were doing and didn’t even know not the ability to peek around the corner to see how it would all end.

That’s really it, isn’t it? We never know what will happen – all we know, from experience, is that when it happens, we will find a solution. It’s with varying degrees of success, but it doesn’t matter either. Understanding is part of why life is so rewarding.

· The empty nest is WONDERFUL. Okay, not everything is rosy. But you will have time to do things just for you, just because you want to. Remember all the things you stopped doing because you didn’t have time? Choose one to start.

· Please, I beg you, start preparing now. Leisure, journaling, lunch program with friends or day hikes. Yoga. Gardening. Traveling. Or whatever. Dust off those dreams of yesteryear. Did you want to be a writer? A painter? An amateur ornithologist? A stand-up paddleboarder? A chef? What did you want to be and do as a kid? I see so many parents (usually mothers, thanks to the gender roles we’re forced into) losing the plot when their kids go off to college.

· I just sent my oldest to college three time zones apart. I had been dreading saying goodbye to him at the airport for days, and in fact, I cried when I hugged him goodbye.

But once he left, I was able to think and understand what it meant. He earned every moment of his admission to this university, and while I miss him, I am thrilled for him. He called me this morning to ask for advice and I told him that if I didn’t hear from him I would assume everything was fine. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

· Just a brainstorm for this mom. “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron revolutionized the direction of my life. I can’t recommend it highly enough to someone starting over. You don’t have to consider yourself an artist, but tapping into your innate creativity is very enlightening.



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