• Cindy manko

The Empty Nest Groove

I am sitting here in awe of a very real feeling I am having. It’s weird, really. I am getting my empty nest groove on. I was feeling guilty because my 17 year old son wanted to use the tv I am watching to play his video game with his buddy, but alas, Dad said, “no way your mom is watching her show”. I am watching World of Dance. I danced as a child, I know what it takes to be an amazing dancer, and these dancers are good! Phenomenal, actually! OMG, I have control of the tv! I am not separated from my phone these days, and yes it is right beside me right now because it is my life line to my girls who are both off to college. I don’t have a loaded schedule this coming week and I finally had a good heart to heart with the hubs about my fear of empty available time (that thing I wished for for 21 years now)!

Yes, I am all over the map in my new empty nest life. But, you see, my life is all over the map. Everything has changed. My job as mom changed. My time has changed. I never really thought about what life after stay-at-home mom was going to look like. When the kids were little it seemed like an eternity before they would be grown and flown. And here I sit, all empty nesting it! I have spent the last 6 months grappling with it, and fighting it. Beating myself up that I wasn’t more prepared; like somehow I should know these feelings were going to hit. People talk about empty nest all the time. I wasn’t going to struggle, darn it, yet, struggling, I am.

My heart feels empty without my girls here at home. And for the record, I know I am not completely empty nesting it. I have one more child to get graduated and sent onto college or whatever he decides, but he’s a boy! I am not saying I like my girls more I am saying I relate to my girls more. All that aside, though, you have to hear me when I say that letting ⅔ of my children go is empty nest enough to be empty nesting it! Doesn’t matter who has flown, I would be experiencing empty nest. Looking back to both the girls at that last bit of time here at home before they had flown, I was so ready for the flying to happen. “Go! And take your little attitude, too, Miss Know it all!” And we both let go! I was ready to let go of the girls, but not ready for the reality of not being there for them daily, like it’s my job…..wait! That was my job. Wait, I didn’t prepare for that! All of a sudden there is this empty time sitting in front of me taunting me to waste it. All this time that I could finally stay on top of laundry, to having so little laundry that the empty, unused time still begs for my attention. I am so off! I can’t get my bearings. I don’t want to finally give cleaning a good long days work, like I wished I had all these years. It means nothing to clean windows or mirrors without the smudges made by those love bugs. Man, I wish I wouldn’t have gotten so mad at them for being normal kids and making smudges.

Yes, I am all over the map with my emotions about empty nesting! This new phase of my life is both exciting and scary. Tonight, I got a text from one of the girls telling me she made it to Florida and she is on the beach. She shared a few stories that she knew would make me smile, and said I love you when signing off. I hold onto every text or phone call from my girls as if it is the only thing giving me purpose in this life. I get the biggest satisfaction when they call me for advice or to just chat, and the high I get from that stays with me awhile. I know that can’t just be my purpose here on Earth in this phase of my life, but for now it is helping me stay afloat until I find the new way of filling in my schedule with purposeful things.

I am taking my time. One day at a time. I feel like that runner who just crossed to finish line, bent over, hands pressing on top of my knees, breathless, and relieved that the race was completed, and then suddenly being interviewed right after the race asking me what is next. Like, come on! Let the champion enjoy the celebration of her accomplishment! I’m celebrating the accomplishment of raising pretty dang good kids. Don’t ask me what’s next. I don’t know. For now, I am catching up on some uninterrupted tv time. Man those kids can dance!

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