Mark and I are parents to two great kids. Our son, Robert, is a Pharmacy Tech in the USAF. Our daughter Danielle, is a first year teacher, with a special needs classroom of her very own. Mark and I are empty-nesters and really do enjoy this time in our life. But it wasn’t always that way…
When the house first emptied out, I was very depressed. Not the “crying all the time, can’t get out of bed” depressed. The best way to describe it is that I was apathetic. All the things that I love to do (cooking, sewing, baking, painting, scrapbooking, etc.) held no interest for me. I did not realize that I was depressed, how could I be? I was functioning! I carried on with my regular life, I did the laundry and cleaned the house (that should have been a clue right there) and just went from day-to-day. I went for months and did not write my blog because writing Bobby’s goodbye blog had been so very difficult for me to write, and letting him go had been even harder. I was beginning to feel a little lost when our daughter, the Psych major, diagnosed me.
Once I realized what my problem was, I addressed it. I allowed myself to cry, but not dwell, and I talked to my sweetie pie, Mark, and my girlfriends about it. Mark assured me that an empty nest was a good thing, and that I should allow myself a glass of wine on the deck once in a while, and enjoy working on my projects without being interrupted. Slowly, I emerged from the cloud and I’m in a good place now. For those of you in a similar place, or those of you that recognize yourself here, it does get better.
I had to find a way to replace being needed . I had devoted a good part of my life to raising a family and had always been on the clock, so to speak. As the kids grew older, and took on more responsibilities in the home, my job changed from being chief cook and bottle washer (when they were very young) to counselor, advisor, and driver. However, I still had a job. It was still important for me to impart wisdom, guide them through life’s messy times, and be there for them when the outside world was harsh and unforgiving. Up until the moment they left home, I was still that little voice in their ear; the nudge to do the right thing, the reminder of their value and worth, the assurance that life can be crazy at times and you will get through it (I still do that).
Then, just like that, our contact was limited to random text messages, and sporadic phone calls. They had flown from the nest (Bobby went to Basic Training and Danielle left again for college), and were now out in the world evolving into the responsible adults that we had hoped to raise. I felt like I wasn’t needed anymore, and I didn’t know how to shift the focus of my life from my role as a Mom, to my role as Elizabeth. I finally started doing more things for me, and after a while, I did not feel guilty about it either.
I am writing about this now because back-to-school can be a depressing time for some people (and some people are drinking champagne at the bus stop). I just wanted any of you out there who may be going through a tough time, or going through a spell where you just don’t feel like yourself, or feel like you are just going through the motions to know that you are not alone and it will get better. Talk to someone you trust about it (a counselor, your doctor, your pastor, a friend, your sweetie pie) and feel better. You owe it to yourself!