The children are gone.
I’ll never forget the feeling. I had traveled overseas with our son—our “baby”—and helped him get settled and into the dorms for his first year of college. We’d gotten him a driver’s license, opened a bank account, bought him clothes and school supplies, and now he was on campus. I flew back to Spain, and my husband met me at the airport. We spent a day in a pretty place between the airport and home, and then my new life started.
The empty nest.
The first thing I noticed was the silence. Deafening silence. No music, no motorcycles, no friends, no chatter. My husband is a quiet man, and he’d come in the room, and I’d be spooked.
At dinner, it was just him and me. I learned to prepare half the food I did before.
My husband likes me to be home when he’s home, and I was accustomed to driving our son here and there—to guitar lessons, to meet friends, etc. I got cabin fever.
A total lifestyle readjustment.
We’ve been doing the empty nest for more than ten years. I’ve changed some things up. I’ve learned some things along the way. And, I am really enjoying being with my man again.
Let me share with you some of the things I’ve learned personally and from friends who have gone through the same adjustments.
Love your husband. When you married, he was your number one. Then, the kids came, and you were busy with them. Now they’re gone, and it’s time to rekindle the flame, treat him like royalty, and enjoy being together in a new "honeymoon."
- Cook for him.
- Give him undivided attention. Friends of ours share coffee in the morning and tea at night. They enjoy a time of prayer and devotions together. Get into a together routine that you couldn’t do when the kids were home.
- Enjoy being together. Since the kids left, we sometimes take an afternoon and go on a walk together. Sometimes, we take a picnic lunch and drive an hour away to see a place we’ve never visited before. Once a year, we go away for about 30-36 hours, an overnight holiday that leaves us refreshed. We shop for groceries together, do ministry together, and share our lives—just the two of us.
Let them go. I’m talking about the kids, of course. I figure they need to have the same freedom I was given: to get an education, grow up, and become independent. Our kids have done that, gotten married, and become parents themselves. We are thankful that we gave them the gift of independence. Having said that, we are still a very close family. We talk to both of our children at least once a week. We Skype with them, their spouses, and the grandchildren. We visit when we can, and they visit us when they can. But, we let them go. We allow their new family to be their family and make their own decisions. They will learn the same way we learned: by doing.
Get a life. There is life after children! Yes, it’s different, but now you have time to do some of the things you always dreamed of but didn’t have time for. In my case, I’ve started this blog and written two books. (One of them is published, His Ways, Your Walk. The other is a novel.) I also do some counseling, encouraging, and mentoring. I’m editing a book.
Practice contentment. I admit I had to ask God for it. Lord, please help me with the silence. Please help me overcome this cabin fever. Please help me be happy at home with my husband and give me a new vision for what I can do for You. And, you know what? I love the silence! I am happy at home. I enjoy this precious time of life with my husband. I have new ministries. The Apostle Paul said, Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content (Philippians 4:11).
I never knew the empty nest could be so full!
Are you an empty nester? Please share what it's meant for you.