The Empty Nesters: Life After Children

031115_EmptyNestFor the greater portion of my married life my days were filled with all activities pertaining to my children. I wanted to be involved with my children’s lives at every stage of it. I did the soccer Mom thing. Even though I am not a sports fan necessarily I loved watching my children play ball. It felt like I was out there on the soccer field, the volleyball or basketball court competing for the goal. I felt the same desire to win the game, to help the team be the champions. I hung out with my children and their friends. We made some great memories together.

I home-schooled my children for nineteen years. It would have been longer had I spaced my children’s births, as so many people like to recommend. I managed to have six children in a ten-year span. That may seem crazy to some but there were many benefits to having them closer in age especially when it came to homeschooling.

When you are a mother your switch is always “ON.” You are always on call anytime day or night as the need arises. There is no “OFF” switch. No down time. No days off. Vacation? What is that?

When all the children moved out the first noticeable difference was the peace and quiet. Was that depressing? Was this the end? Was my life over? No music, no video games, no voices, just pure silence. How beautiful that was to me to have silence after 30 years of parenting. Do not get me wrong, I loved being a mother with a passion, which is why I devoted my life and energy to it from the get-go. I considered my role as Mother my highest calling in life. But those days are behind me now. The devotion to that all encompassing task of mothering over the years pays off in the end. The children are grown and managing their own responsibilities now. I am freed from it all.

No more unexpected visits from my children’s friends. No more stretching the meal to feed extras. No more late nights when I really wanted to go to bed. I had to play the host until their friends left. I could not be rude and just go to bed when we had company. Often times my plans for the day or evening were set aside due to the children or their guests.

After thirty years of our married lives my husband and I could once again enjoy the peace and quiet, and the freedom to go to bed when we wanted to without anyone making demands on our time and energy. It was an added discovery to have complete privacy being home with just the two of us, which was such a rarity before.

We spend so much of our lives as mothers putting aside our own ambitions for the good of the children and rightly so. Being a devoted mother is a self-sacrificing service. We do it because we love them. We put the rest of the needs of the family before our own. We are so busy meeting the needs of the children and the husband that many of our personal wants and desires go unfulfilled. Sometimes we even feel forgotten. We might be the last one to sit down at the dinner table after laboring over the meal, and then shortly thereafter everyone is finished and gone from the table and we find ourselves sitting there alone.

I am happy to discover that being one of the empty nesters is not the end of the line. No, in fact it is a new beginning, a new chapter to be written, a new adventure to explore. Now I can enjoy “Me time,” doing the things I’ve always wanted to do without interruption. I can think for just myself, for a change. My time is my time. I can make plans and actually follow through with them. I can pursue new hobbies, write the books I’ve wanted to write, paint the paintings I’ve wanted to paint, make new friends that I did not feel the need for before, develop new skills or expand on old skills, build a business that I did not have time for before. The possibilities are endless.

My husband and I can freely date again. We now enjoy the freedom to live more spontaneously. We can drop everything and go out on a moment’s notice without having to make major plans and preparations. We have no one to look after, no one to report to. There are no hands asking for more money for this project or that event. There is no one exhausting our energies and making demands upon our time. We have a freedom that we did not have before and it is wonderful!

I enjoyed being a mother those years when I was there but now that I am on the other side I am so relieved to be freed from all the work, the stress, the responsibilities, the burdens and the sleepless nights. I am free to just be me and do what I want to do for a change.

Other mothers with children still at home ask me if I am bored or does the house feel empty? Do I have trouble finding things to do? No, I have so much to do and am busy as I ever was if not busier. I get to do what I want to do and I am having so much fun doing the things that please me.

Life after children is freedom. It is liberating and empowering! It is new beginning.

Debra Carmona

Art Teacher