My friend Julia and I met for coffee to catch up on each other’s lives. We’re both Empty Nesters. My five kids are all married, and I have nineteen grandchildren. Julia has two kids, one in college and one just out — adjusting to real life! As a single parent, Julia has raised her kids alone since they were very small. Yet her life has been full with a career, friends, mentoring young people, and deep involvement in church. My life has been full — in fact, too full. As we talked honestly, it became apparent that even though we were in different phases of the empty nest, we were experiencing some of the same feelings.
Both of us sensed we have been packing our lives so full that we are weary. Yet underlying the weariness is a fear of slowing down, because slowing down seems to hint at the dreaded words “retirement and old.” Neither of us feels old and neither of us wants to retire — ever. Okay, we know that we are getting older. But as we chatted, we concluded that we don’t have to dread this time. Instead we need to use different words to describe this phase: finding a new rhythm and discovering a fresh focus.
There are several advantages to this new rhythm. We no longer feel the pressure to “prove ourselves.” At this age, we know better what we are good at and what we aren’t. It is easier to let some things go and to leave good opportunities that we might have taken in the past and pass them to other people who are better at it than we are. Now we have the chance to delete some things that aren’t the best for us and to begin to focus on what our passion is and where we feel we can make the biggest difference for good.
And best of all — talking over a cup of coffee with a good friend has a way of putting things in perspective and clearing the air. It is refreshing!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published March 2009
Thoughts and Feelings about the Empty Nest
You’ve longed for the day when the house would be peaceful again and the kids would finally be grown and on their own. But now that it’s here, all you can do is mourn your loss. Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates remember the day when their youngest chicks flew the family coop and suddenly propelled them into the new stage of life called the empty nest.
What do I do with my Loneliness?
Barbara and Susan share their personal experiences about entering the empty nest. Hear them talk about the loneliness they felt as they tried to adjust to this new chapter in their lives.
“You’re done … but you’re not finished! And one more thing. You’re not alone. Feeling unsure? Scared? Expectant? Maybe even giddy? Is your nest empty—except for a bundle of mixed emotions? As you grieve what’s behind and daydream about possibilities, you’ll feel young again, ready for new challenges and adventures. Yet you may not know what to pursue or how to discover what’s next. Many women in this season of life wonder: Who am I now? And what should I do? How will my marriage be affected? Does anyone need me? How do I relate to my children? Is it okay to feel sad? Or thrilled? What’s next?”