Annual Autumn Empty Nest Adjustment
I write a lot about empty nest and changing family dynamics on this site. I’ve experienced it acutely, but I’v also experienced the other side – the place where you stop, regroup and begin to move forward in a different direction. I’ve both gotten and given empty nest support. Takes a bit of getting used to, but the time when you hit perimenopause or menopause and your kids start building their own lives, you begin exploring a time in your life that is rich with possibilities, fear, excitement, and a host of other emotions.
That being said, autumn continues to be a time when I “fall back”, as the saying goes! Fall has always been my favorite time. It’s a season of new colors, smells, activities, hope and fun when you have kids…the excitement about school starting – the new teacher, school clothes, bookbag and supplies, even waiting for the bus as the mornings get cooler and cooler. Watching them hop off the bus at the end of the day, then sports in the later years…too much fun. I cherished those times, every moment.
As summer ends and the morning air is crisp and the sun is shining with a different intensity, something happens inside of me. It starts as a welcoming feeling for the cool air and the smells unique to the season. Before I know it I’m minding my own business when I come across the Halloween decorations and the orange and yellow Mums in pots outside the grocery store, and there’s that lump in my throat before I’m even aware it’s on the way. Oddly, I don’t even recognize the signs, even now; it happens every single year. I can’t intercept it, I can’t stop it, it just is. It lasts for a couple of days. I can’t describe it – it isn’t really a sadness, or a feeling of loss, just a recognition that those precious days are behind me and that is as normal and as natural as breathing.
My kids are grown – the last one is a junior in college. They’re off making their own memories. I’m joyous for my relationships with them, at the same time I wish we all were closer geographically. My granddaughters are school-age, and their parents are making and storing those memories that will be part of them forever as well. Successfully dealing with changing family dynamics requires an acceptance of change and the ability to look forwards. It feels good to balance the wee bit of melancholy with the happiness and joy I have for them.
So…now that I’ve identified and accepted those empty nest emotions, it’s time to have a nice quiet cup of tea, relax with a good book and think about what’s ahead for tomorrow with a feeling of contentment and gratitude with my life after 50. Till next September, anyway!