I remember after giving birth to my children the words of wisdom I heard most were “enjoy it, it will go so fast.”  At the time of this well-intended advice, I shook my head and thought I am in the throes of parenting, this will never end. The idea also crossed my mind, what could they possibly know about what I was going through, their children were grown and gone.

And then it happened. I found myself giving new moms and dads the same wonderful advice that was repeatedly given to me. My head shook. How was it possible that I thought having young kids at home would never end? It happened just like the other parents said it would, so fast that a blinking eye would’ve missed it.

Sending my daughter off to her first year of college was like no other experience I had ever encountered. It felt like a piece of my heart broke off and stayed in the dorm room that day. All I could think was how did my little chubby-cheeked, blond-haired, blue-eyed girl grow up so fast? How could I just leave her here? Reluctantly, like all the other parents, I said goodbye with tear-filled eyes and an empty heart.

The blow would’ve been worse if not for her school being an hour and a half away, making visiting her less of a hassle. A short travel time and my son still at home finishing up his last years in high school helped my heartache.

But heartbreak is a difficult wound to heal like a porcelain plate glued back together, it looks whole, but the slightest drop may shatter it. Here I am again, getting ready to send my second and last child off to college. The feelings are 100% the same and probably worse. To save myself from the excruciating pain I often block out my thoughts and feelings when it comes to dropping him off. I know this pain will be like no other.

Realizing that you have entered the time of your life when you are an empty nester is not easy. The fear, uncertainty, lack of purpose, loss of identity, and sadness is real. The house becomes very quiet like an eerie ghost ship, something that you may have always wished for, but now would do anything to hear “mommy, can you come lay with me”. Not to mention, you look across the room at your husband and think to yourself, what are we going to do now? What will we talk about? What will we do with all this extra time?

There is no doubt this period in one’s life can be difficult, but it can also be the start of something new. Below are a few tips that have helped me navigate this new chapter.

  1. The realization that my daughter still needed me just as much.
  2. Weekend getaways with my husband.
  3. Connecting with old friends.
  4. Day trips to have lunch and girl time with my daughter.
  5. Focusing on my career.
  6. The opportunity to finally clean her room!

I have a long way to go in accepting that I am “done” raising my children. I know my children will always need me, but it won’t be in the same way. And that’s okay. My job was to raise my children to become healthy, well-adjusted, independent, and successful adults. I can lay my head on my pillow at night and know I did just that.