The Changing Nest

BY MADISYN TAYLOR

As the nest empties, parents can alleviate the sadness by rediscovering themselves and honoring the strides their children have made.Once individuals become parents, they are parents forevermore. Their identities change perceptively the moment Mother Nature inaugurates them mom or dad. Yet the role they undertake when they welcome children into their lives is not a fixed one. As children move from one phase of their lives to the next, parental roles change. When these transitions involve a child gaining independence, many parents experience an empty nest feeling. Instead of feeling proud that their children have achieved so much — whether the flight from the nest refers to the first day of kindergarten or the start of college — parents feel they are losing a part of themselves. However, when approached thoughtfully, this new stage of parental life can be an exciting time in which mothers and fathers rediscover themselves and relate to their children in a new way. 

As children earn greater levels of independence, their parents often gain unanticipated freedom. Used to being depended upon by and subject to the demands of their children, parents sometimes forget that they are not only mom or dad but also individuals. As the nest empties, parents can alleviate the anxiety and sadness they feel by rediscovering themselves and honoring the immense strides their children have made in life. The simplest way to honor a child undergoing a transition is to allow that child to make decisions and mistakes appropriate to their level of maturity. Freed from the role of disciplinarian, parents of college-age children can befriend their offspring and undertake an advisory position. Those with younger children beginning school or teenagers taking a first job can plan a special day in which they express their pride and explain that they will always be there to offer love and support. 

An empty nest can touch other members of the family unit as well. Young people may feel isolated or abandoned when their siblings leave the nest. As this is normal, extra attention can help them feel more secure in their newly less populated home. Spouses with more leisure time on their hands may need to relearn how to be best friends and lovers. Other family members will likely grieve less when they understand the significance of the child’s new phase of life. The more parents both celebrate and honor their children’s life transitions, the less apprehension the children will feel. Parents who embrace their changing nest while still cherishing their offspring can look forward to developing deeper, more mature relationships with them in the future.

Being a single parent

It’s not for sissies.

Everything they need and want and feel is on you. Despite almost everything you do revolving around this fact, guess what? You’re also the only one to blame.

Today was one of those days in which everything I did with my time and energy was selfless. It was all about someone/something else. At the end of the day, I didn’t get appreciation or even a hand, I got to hear about my shortcomings.

I’m so fucking tired of being strong.

Who do I have to be to get some reciprocity?

Wish you were here

I wish you were here when she played the song that brings tears welling to her eyes. I wish you were here holding my hand as I realized there is nothing I can do to fix her hurt. I wish you were here sitting in the uncomfortable with me, with her.

I wish you were here when his eyes filled with wonder and excitement laced his voice. I wish you were here to share the pride in his reading aloud because you also recognize the significance of his journey from nonverbal.

I wish you were here to listen when I worried today. I wish you were here when he arrived safely from his first interstate road trip. I wish you were here sharing what may be the last summer vacation before he leaves the nest.

I just wish you here fully grasping the importance of the laughter from the kids in the next room. I wish we were reminiscing about days past together. I wish you were here to embrace in this contentment.

To be clear, I don’t even know who “YOU” are.

Then again, maybe you don’t deserve this. Maybe only I deserve this. I earned this. It is mine.

Yet, I long to share me with you.

Still, I wish you were here.