The Empty-Nester: Giving Roots and Finding Wings.

The moment we become a mother, we are faced with the notion that one day that precious little bundle wrapped tightly in your arms will one day grow up and pursue a life of its own. However, in that moment of “new mom” bliss, it is a thought soon discarded into the deepest recesses of our minds. We then embark on the journey of providing love, support, and daily necessities of life for this little creature we have co-created. We try to instill in them values and characteristics that will, in hopes, one day make them wonderful adults. Then, one day, you look around and realize that your job is nearing the end. They are no longer growing up, but have grown up, at least chronologically. They are ready to make decisions for the path of their own lives. And, eventually, they are ready to leave the warm and coddling nest that we have provided for them, thus far.
I have recently found myself in that place. My children have actually already moved out of the house with me and have been out for a while. They both have been living with their own significant others for more than a year now. However, more recently, they have made some pretty impactful life decisions that have brought the reality of “empty nester” home in a very big way. Roughly, just under six months ago, my daughter made the choice to move to Minnesota with her boyfriend. Keep in mind, we live in Georgia, and that distance seems to be worlds apart, for a mom to let her baby girl go away to. I have missed her dearly but have tried to adapt to the changes and adjusted, as much as possible, to not being able to see her, or go shopping or out to dinner with her any time I want to. One thing that has helped ease the void, has been that my son lives only about twenty miles away, and I have the ability to go by and see him and his family often. My two granddaughters have been the perfect escape on times when I am missing Bree. Until now. My son advised me about two weeks ago, that they have made the decision to move to Florida. Granted, it is only one state away, but still entails an eight-hour long drive to the location they have decided to relocate to. When he told me, it was not just a casual, “so, we decided to move to Florida.” But rather, a notification of, “I have a job, we have an apartment, and we are leaving,” all with less than a month notice. So, I did what any normal, loving mother would do- I cried, a lot, and then I decided to move to Florida too. So, I have known roughly for about two weeks that he was going to go down to the area and would be starting his job a few weeks before their apartment was ready. His wife and daughters would still be here in their current house until that time, so at least I had a heads up that I need to spend as much time as I possibly can with them.
Knowing that they were going to be leaving has been less than easy for me. I am still having hard days still missing having my daughter close by, and even though I have decided to move to Florida with them, I was not prepared for how fast this all happened, so I have a lot of things to put in order before that can happen, and I have no clue just how long it will take to get them in order.
Despite the fact that I had a couple of weeks to try and process and come to terms with their move, something profound happened to me internally yesterday when he actually got on the road to make the drive to Florida to begin his new job. I felt such a sense of loss. I have been trying to figure out what this is, and why it feels different than when my daughter left. I think, for one, when she left to go to Minnesota, I knew she had her boyfriend with her and they were together. But, for at least the next four weeks, my son will be in Florida by himself, with no family nor friends. And, I believe, as a mother, that terrifies me, to think of him being all alone. I also realized that even though we did not live in the same house for some time now, we have always lived close to each other, within at least less than an hour drive, and that is my first born. The child that I experienced all of my first-time ups and downs of being a new mom with. And while I miss my baby, I realize that each child in the birth order are special in their own way, and the first-born is, just that, the first-born. At the heart of it all, whether it is the baby or the first-born, we never really want to let them go; to send them out into the world to try and have to live life on their own. A part of us will always want to keep them safe, keep them young, and keep them happy.
Ultimately, as parents, the main thing is to accept that one day they will grow up, and they will go out into the big old world and pursue their own dreams and lead their own lives. And, as a mother, or just a parent for that matter, we can only hope that we instilled within them the types of things they will need to succeed, no matter where that life takes them to. We can want for them to be financially healthy, and physically healthy. We can hope that they possess the values and morals to be revered as good people. That they are kind and generous to others, that they show compassion without sacrificing their own integrity or self-worth. But, most of all, that they are happy. We can only hope that our love will give them roots and help them find their wings.

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