Empty nest or Light at the end of the tunnel?Subscribe
My friends with younger children don't get this, and perhaps it's a function of the outrageous numbers of children in my home (eight in our blended family - thankfully not often all at the same time!), but...
I'm looking forward to them leaving home. (Two of them do live on their own. Two down, six to go...)
It's not that I don't love them, it's not that I don't LOVE being a mother, it's not that I don't enjoy my interactions with them. Last night I went to parent-teacher night at my youngest's high school, and I was JUST SO PROUD. So, I still love the job, but lordy! I've been at this mothering gig for over twenty years, and some days? Some days, it's time to move on!
I look forward to the next, more autonomous, phase of mothering.
Anyone else feel that way?
I absolutely understand what you're saying, MaryP. My one-and-only is now out on his own - and 3000 miles away - and being able to relate to him on an adult level is really special to me. Yesterday, he called me for some information he needed to list ME on HIS benefits forms at work - now there's a turnaround!
But my nest isn't quite empty, due to my 13- and (almost) 8-year-old stepkids. My mother-in-law marvels at my willingness to go back to having younger kids around when I was essentially "done" with that stage - but they're not with us all the time, and they're not all that young. And I actually enjoy the turbulent teenage years - parts of them, anyway. I have this cornball theory that adolescence is a natural process that we need to go through so we WANT them to leave - otherwise, letting go might be too hard.
As a single parent I get an empty nest all to myself every other weekend. Let me tell you, I CHERISH those weekends. I have no trouble filling my time with non-child related activities. I think the empty nest years will be an exciting phase of life for me! I'm not necessarily hoping that it gets here quickly but I will most definitely be ready for it when it arrives!
adolescence is a natural process that we need to go through so we WANT them to leave
This made me laugh out loud. When my oldest was 17 and in her final year at home before university, I was truly and literally counting the days! Marked them (very discreetly) on the calendar! She was so AWFUL that year that all I wanted was for her to get out before something exploded... (And I know that she was not nearly as awful as other teens. But she was not fun to live with.)
But, to evidence what a Good Mother I truly am, my daughter never had a clue about my feelings. In fact, she fully expected me to break down and cry on the day she headed off.
And now? Five years later? We are solid friends. So, adolescence as a time of disengagement so that all parties are glad to move on? I'm totally with that theory!
Kathy - you've reminded me of my shocked delight when I saw one of the implications of the divorce that I just hadn't seen in advance: I had far more parenting time off as a "single" parent than I'd ever had as a married one. AND I wasn't having to tip-toe around the moodiness of the big surly kid I divorced. I loved, loved, loved being able to parent my kids my way, live my life in peace and stability - AND have those lovely child-free weekends! Amazing!
(All this in the past tense because the girls never see their dad any more, and my son sees him as they arrange it between the two of them - every six weeks or so.)
"Child-free" weekends, and maybe some weeknights too, depending on the terms of your custody agreement - the not-so-guilty, happy secret of post-divorce parenting!
Now that my husband and stepdaughter have started into the teenage head-butting phase of their relationship, I'm trying to sell him on that theory of mine . He must listen to voice of experience (ha!)!
If he doesn't listen to the voice yet, he'll inevitably experience the reality - and then your experience will come as a welcome voice of reassurance!
So far my youngest (she's 14) is still a pleasure to be around. This time, though, I'm not naively assuming we will stay that way. With my eldest, I honestly believed that because we'd had a great relationship until she was 13, we would continue to do so. Because I was such a good mom, don't you know... Thing is, though I was a good mother, she was also a normal teen. I had no idea "normal" could get soooo obnoxious! Wow.
So, I'm enjoying Rebekah's positivity, and I'm hoping it'll last - but I won't be crushed, and I won't take it personally, if that changes. (I make no promises about not being exasperated, though!)
Our daughter is fifteen and will be going off to university in the US in 3 years (we live in Turkey). We have always spent a lot of time together, just because we like to. We have a lot in common and talk about everything. She hasn't become horrible....but you know what? Here in Turkey, teenagers get contrary, but they do not get as nasty as teenagers in the US. There is not so much a teen culture and dating is not common-- they socialize in groups, and the girls have the upper hand (they are real b*tches to boys!). Drug use is rare.
When my daughter and her friends talk on the phone or IM, it is never about boys (I confess, I sneaked a peek when she left it running one day). They do like boys, but boys are to be controlled!!
Of course there are families with problems, and runaways, abuse, etc. I am talking about the kids I see at her (private) school and out and about , and of course what I see on TV.
I will miss her when she goes off to study in America. It will be strange to find out what it is I really do like to do, just on my own. I expect I will quit the university and start up my own editing and translation business...or not. Maybe do something more with my writing.
I will have full possession of our horse!! Perhaps I will take Turkish citizenship and train myself up to win a spot on the Turkish National Dressage Team.
Good point about the face of adolescence being culturally influenced. I see my kids as a kinder, gentler sort of teen (even with the obnoxiousness I complain of!) than many I see around me -- which I attribute to their having been homeschooled until they were ten or so.
While their peers are central to their adolescent lives, their families play a larger role than they do for many. I wonder, from time to time, how our relationship would have developed had they been homeschooled through the end of high school -- in effect, removing them from that most profound indoctrination into North American teen culture, the High School.
I'm looking forward to my kids leaving someday. I had children young so that I would still be relatively young when they grew up and still have plenty of time to do the things I wanted to do. I love my children dearly and love being a mom but this is just the cycle of life. I do have friends that feel differently. Two of my friends are so overly involved in their children's lives that it's going to be devastating when their kids move out.