A few weeks ago, we took our youngest daughter to university in Kingston. My husband and I were so glad to have finally reached this stage after raising three girls.
Imagine how surprised I am to find myself constantly depressed and moping around. The house is so quiet now. When I open the front door, there is no one on the phone, no stereo playing, no TV blasting, no negotiations about going out at night. I honestly never thought I would feel this way. My husband works and is not home as much as I am. He does not feel the void like I do.
I am very happy for my daughter, but this empty nest thing is truly for the birds. Do you have any suggestions how I can move on from feeling this way?
Sadly, Alone at Last
Dear Sadly, Alone at Last,
Having your last child leave home opens up a whole barrage of emotions, everything from joy and relief to sadness and worry. Having your last child leave home is a major life change, and you need to allow yourself time to adjust. You are entering a new phase as a parent, as a wife and as an individual.
As a parent, you have worked toward this time and given your kids the tools they need to become productive, self-sufficient adults. You are letting go to give them the opportunity to put all the life skills you have instilled in them to work.
You need to find new ways to fill the void. Now is the time you can enjoy things that perhaps were not practical while your children were at home. You are limited only by your own imagination. You could volunteer, go back to work, take some courses, join a club, work out, travel, read, revive a hobby, get a new hobby, go out on dates with your husband, get a dog, take up golf. The list is endless.
But remember that your girls are not gone for good. You can still stay in touch and be part of their lives through e-mail, phone calls and visits. The most important thing is to allow yourself the time to make this new adjustment.
Plan every day ahead. You need a routine, but now your routine will revolve around what you want, not what your family needs. You’ve done a good job. It’s your turn now.
Readers may submit their questions to Ella at The CJN., email: firstname.lastname@example.org. But Ella is not a professional counsellor. She brings to the questions posed by readers her unique brand of earthy wisdom. Her advice is not a replacement for medical, legal or any other advice. For serious problems, consult a professional.