Give the ones you love wings to fly,
roots to come back home
and reasons to stay.
– Dalai Lama
Life after kids, the empty nest phase of life, might be filled with loss as one faces the empty space and time after children leave home but our hearts are never empty. When I read the quote above I thought that I am sure that we as parents have done this to the best of our abilities and we can be confident that our children will fly, come back home and visit with us. There is always that feeling that we support them when they go through things, whether it be studying, leaving home, marriage, parenthood, or God forbid, a life trauma; we are there for them. They on the other-hand enjoy their independence and newfound wings of freedom and so they should.
Have we taken care of ourselves?
My question is: ‘have we given ourselves wings to fly and created roots for ourselves?’ Or do we feel wingless and rootless? Do we feel that our home is no longer a home? I know as mothers it is easy to pour all our attention on our children, seeing to their needs, worrying about them, lifting them to and fro, running after them (all in love of course) and thereby we forget to nourish ourselves. Fathers may also focus all their attention on providing for his family, seeing to the basic needs, education and finally retirement. I have a lot of respect for parents who are so committed to the welfare and development of their children, often to their own detriment. Is there such a thing as a burnt out parent or depleted parent; one who so fiercely and facelessly takes care of their kids at the detriment of their own well being? Often it only shows up in one’s own life when kids leave home or in retirement. Parents find they have lots of time but are not sure what to do with it. Sometimes it feels like we have forgotten who we were before we had children.
After my kids left home I had to take time to think back on what I enjoyed doing or wanted to do but never got around to doing. Some things I definitely don’t want to do again but I found it a helpful way to get back in touch with who I was and who I can be. Now that we are older and wiser we can be so much more than we were then.
I see the empty nest as a perfect opportunity to explore new horizons. It is a new phase of life and we can grab hold of new opportunities. Even little things like we can now…
- eat what we like and explore new cuisine;
- do what we want when we want,
- take care of ourselves (body, mind and spirit) without feeling guilty,
- try new hobbies,
- as a couple our relationship can grow – we can give each other wings to fly, roots to come back home and reasons to stay,
- meet new people, develop deeper friendships.
So I created a Life after kids group and we are going to meet for the first time on Sunday. I hope it will be part of exploring new possibilities. Maybe we can give each other ideas along the way. We will no doubt experience things in our own unique way but we could support each other just knowing we are in a new phase of life. I am interested to see if getting together could be helpful.
I am sure you have your own thoughts on this matter and might have insights or challenges that you are experiencing. Are there things that you can suggest?