“Oh… so you are an empty nester…” (sad face).
Well, no. Actually, I am a free bird!
That’s a choice I made when my daughters were both about to move away to college at the same time.
I’ve listened to friends lament on how empty their house feels with their kids in college: their childhood rooms vacant, the void in their life, unfulfilled expectations on children coming back to visit, returning phone calls, etc.
I realized this very clearly: I was NOT interested in living my prime years as if the best of life was behind me, nor burdening my kids with any expectations that somehow they were responsible for my joy, happiness, or fulfillment.
Eeeeeew! Not my cup of The Back Forty tea!
We’ve all heard “Let them fly” said as a consoling and empowering way to hold our children growing up and moving on. So, I say this to us: “Let US fly!!!”
Therefore, as my daughters spent a year designing their college career, I spent a year creating what my life will look like after they move out! Where do I want to live? What environment do I want to live in? What will I do that will be an expression of my passion and purpose in this next/best half of my life?
Two months after they moved out of our 14-year family home, I moved out too. Together, we had ALL set out on creating the next era of our life.
This Thanksgiving season, I am profoundly present to my deep gratitude for my daughters, our relationship, and the deep love and appreciation we hold for each other. I am immensely grateful for their opportunity to go to college and their freedom to build a life of their own design, unconstrained by external expectations and unencumbered by feelings that MY happiness or satisfaction depends on them.
Do I miss them? Of course!!! Do I delight in seeing them every chance I get? Absolutely!!! I cherish every moment I get to spend with them. Yet as part of giving my daughters the space to spread their wings and fly free, I created the same kind of freedom for myself and my own second half/best half of life. Just as they are creating their life and future, I am overjoyed that I get to create my Back Forty Future of my own design…with the zest an excitement of a twenty-year-old!
When my daughters return a phone call or text, and when they work out coming home from college to join our family for Thanksgiving dinner, it is a gift, a joy and a blessing – not an obligation or dutiful fulfillment of an expectation.
I am blessed. I am deeply grateful. And I have a kick-ass playful, passionate and purposeful Back Forty ahead of me! Rock on radically free birds!!