I’ve never had children, so I can only imagine what empty nesters, especially moms, feel when their children fly the coop and head off to begin their own, independent lives. You could say I lived through it vicariously when my mother sent me, the youngest, off to college. There was no joy in my mother’s heart, not for a long while after my departure, as she spent more time worrying about me away at college.
When I left for school, what did my mom focus on?
- Was I alone or making friends?
- Was I in harm’s way or safe?
- Was I flunking out or making good grades?
- Was I partying too much or spending all of my time studying?
- Was I feeling horribly insecure or was I happy?
I wish my mother had not fretted so much, and for the empty nesters experiencing the same bothersome thoughts about their own kids, I wish you would not fret so much.
Please let me share with you some thoughts that may ease your burden. On a college campus with 44,000 other students, I was almost never alone, and, when I was, it was sublime. My mom raised me to be careful and mature, so I avoided unsafe situations just as I had done through high school. She also raised me to be a very conscientious student, to have fun, but to remember my objective was to graduate with good grades and an excellent job. My mom may have had justifiable worries about my level of insecurity and unhappiness, however, it was up to me to learn how to feel good about myself and be happy all by myself. All of these things were part of the college experience.
Did I make mistakes? Absolutely! Will your children make mistakes? Sure! You cannot stop the journey that they are on and spare them from all danger and uncomfortable situations. That’s life, and now is this particular chapter in your children’s lives.
For everyone involved, it may be best to focus on why you are fretting and what you can do about it. The why you are worrying may have more to do with you than with your kids; the answer to what you can do about it (meaning, what you can control) is almost always, nothing.
Remember, you raised them with values, a sense of right and wrong, and an understanding about being the best person they can be. Every experience is an opportunity for growth and development (for you and your kids). Set your worries aside, empty nesters, and sail along for the ride. It may be a bit choppy at times, but you can weather the waves.
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