I am now an official part-time empty nester. My oldest daughter is a college freshman and lives on campus. My youngest, a senior in high school, spends the majority of the week with her dad during the school year. In between, it’s just me and my Sheltie, Jake. What a transition! From full-speed ahead to a quick downward shift to a steadier slower speed.
While my daughters are just beginning their entry into their life’s vision, I’m getting my second wind. The empty house begs me to focus on one question: “Well, what next?” I realize this is a precious time for my daughters. But I can’t and won’t settle into thinking my life is all downhill from here. This is my time too. Can you identify?
The heart of a mom never removes itself from the blessing of motherhood, but the heart does keep growing and transitioning itself into different stages of the journey. When the children, or rather, young adults step out on their own to find a job, go away to college or to get married and raise their own family – it’s time for mom to untie the apron strings and settle back into her life with new perspective.
Don’t get me wrong, as much as I want to be actively involved in my daughters’ lives all the time, I know it’s not realistic and simply, it would not be the best thing for any one of us. My daughters especially need room to keep growing and to experience life first-hand as they move deeper into who they realize themselves to be and into their life’s purpose.
So, “what is next” for me? When I walk past my daughters’ empty rooms, I realize I can’t quite answer that question without digging deeper: “Who am I?” needs to be addressed first. To start, I am a mom, sister, child of God, Christian coach, writer, friend … a good list, but I need to dig deeper still. Who is that mom? Who is that sister, that child of God? What makes her who she is from the inside-out? What makes me, well … me? Somewhere along the way my deepest identity got lost in the titles and it was time to find it and become reacquainted. No doubt – I am content being me, but I’m ready to get to know me again!
As time moves forward, more of who I am will reveal itself at just the right time for the right reason without making it a chore or a must do. I’ve got to just live right into my identity and my purpose each day as it comes and enjoy the blessing of each unfolding moment.
Now, to get closer to knowing what is next, consider where you are in your life and join with me as we all reflect on our lives. Think on these questions. Be honest with yourself. Only you have the answers!
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do – a hobby, a dream, travel, write that book … but never had enough time or energy to devote to it?
Is there an unfinished project waiting to be finished?
If you work outside the home: are you happy with your job, or is there another field of work that interests you? Have you been a homemaker for the haul and want to step into the job market? Would you be ready and willing to go back to school if needed to make that career move happen?
Do you see yourself stepping back into where you left off before having a family or treading into new territory? Or perhaps, are you content with everything left untouched?
Now that you have more time on your hands, and I am guessing more energy and more focus, what do you want to do with the rest of your life? No, you don’t need to map it all out right now, life is best lived as it comes, but if your heart is tugging at you to rediscover your passions, your desires … I encourage you to embrace what your heart reveals and make every step a step closer to living your desired reality. Think about it, but don’t dwell on it. Act on it, but don’t make it your entire focus. In the meanwhile, live life being fully alive – enjoy it! Are you ready to step forward? Am I ready? You bet!
Blessings on you dear one, and glory to God!