I shared this story with a group I’m part of on Facebook. We’re a group of moms whose kids are venturing out into the world—maybe for the first time, maybe forever leaving the nest, or maybe circling back home after a time away. This story resonated with them and I pray it will with you as well. (I revised it a bit to make it more “bloggier.”)
Last week I talked with a mom who will have an empty nest in August. Her two older kids are each getting married this summer and her youngest is heading to college. She’s dreading it. I wanted to give her encouragement, but the best I could do was ask, “Do you have a dog?” I wanted to encourage her but I knew the reality is that she will feel worse before she feels better.
So why am I writing to you all? Not sure. If your kiddo is heading to college or moving out after graduation, soak in each of these moments–even when you would pay anyone to take them to college right now because they are being awful. The chemistry of the family will never be the same as it is when your kids are truly under your roof. Yes, I love it when the girls and their guys are home. But it’s not the same because they don’t live here. We don’t have the luxury of doing life together like we used to—of the girls hanging out in one of their bedrooms and talking and using hushed tones when they hear me coming—of running errands with one of them and how they would share their hearts with me when it was just us—of the sound of everyone in the house doing their own thing and the house feeling full and warm. Enjoy this season as best you can because it will pass. Other wonderful seasons will come but not this one.
If your kiddo is already launched, if you are in the midst of missing them with grief like nothing you’ve ever experienced (not exaggerating–been there), know that there will be rich, grownup moments with them in the future. It may be a couple of years or a few years before they figure out you weren’t out to ruin their fun and you are pretty smart and fun yourself. Hang in there through those years. Don’t say something that will take years to repair. These years are tough as this is unchartered territory for you and them. They feel they are “adults” and oh-so smart. They pull away to live independently (even though you’re supplementing their lives in many ways!). Advice from Mom and Dad? No thanks, I got this! They need this time to grow and mature.
But then Life eventually gets the best of them and they start to see you are on their side. The rich, grownup moments come unexpectedly–Notes that thank you for being a great mom and he actually lists stuff you did that you thought went unnoticed. An invitation to lunch with your daughter on her day off. Sleeping on an air mattress in your grad student’s tiny apartment and she thanks you for being there. A phone call just to talk for ten minutes or an hour.
The trick of being the mom of grown kids is that we need to roll with and embrace transition. Not always easy, but what we need to do to stay relevant.
The take-away–enjoy what you have and know that when your child leaves home it’s not the end. It’s only the beginning of something new and very cool.
BTW—I know many of you have been waiting a while for the “rich, grownup moments.” I am sorry. I hear from many of you and I feel your pain. I will pray with you for restored relationships. Do your part to apologize where you need to and then create a safe place for relationship. God is faithful and “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.