Dear darling empty-nest momma,
Pick your scenario:
1) Your Sarah has just boarded a plane to Guatemala, where she will spend a “gap year” feeding orphans.
2) Your Little Johnny is adjusting nicely to his freshman year at Whattsamatta U, where he plans to “major” in “Business” (but where, like his brothers before him, he will actually “major” in “Beer”).
3) Your Megan just changed her name to “Nzuri” (Swahili for “Beautiful”) and has “moved to the Coast” to “make art” with her weed-smoking, under-employed boyfriend.
Or, you can imagine your own scenario.
But one way or another, the last of your kids has drained your bank account and is ambling toward a new life.
And your house is eerily quiet.
What WILL you DO with the 100-hours-a-week you used to spend feeding, comforting, training, lecturing, shuttling, saving for, cheering for, arguing with, bailing out, cleaning up after, and stalking your kids?
No doubt you have sacrificed some of your personal aspirations, parts of your body, and most of your mind in service to your family. And, if you are like I once was, you probably haven’t seen the inside of a resort spa, or been able to zip yourself into your favorite jeans, since 1986.
Therefore Modah declares that you should spend what’s-left-of-yourself…
In case you have no idea how to recover from your decades of noble service…
Here are 7 THINGS YOU OWE YOURSELF after the last kid moves out:
#1 – Get a physical. If you’re one of those moms who always skipped getting medical care because little Johnny had a weekly allergist appointment, you now owe it to yourself to ASSESS YOUR MESS. Don’t assume that, just because you can function, that you’re firing on all your cylinders. You gotta maximize all the guts’n’gas you have so you can enjoy your golden years. You don’t want Little Johnny wheeling your tired, baggy self into the “Dearbourne Home for the Beloved Elderly” any sooner than he HAS to.
#2 – Book some sessions with a therapist or counselor. You need to process, grieve and Monday-morning-quarterback the end of an ERA. A licensed professional with no agenda is an excellent choice for that. Plus, you should go check into the thousand pounds of baggage you picked up while your momma was raising YOU, because I’m sure THAT contributed to how your kids, and your life-until-now, turned out.
#3 – Re-awaken Your Intellect. Read a Book. Take a course. Or learn a new skill. Let’s face it, a thirty-year diet of Sesame Street, Pokemon, play-group gossip, Disney, PTA “drama,” your kids’ favorite music and ANY movie-or-TV-show-starring-a-fifteen-year-old has taken a toll on your brain.
There’s a MIND in there somewhere. Go fire that sucker up! Stimulate your neurons and let some new, grown-ass-woman-thoughts take flight. Who knows where they might take you!
#4 – Pick a New Purpose. Cast a new vision for yourself. You may have fulfilled your biological purpose, but there’s plenty of brains and boogie still left inside of you. So, don’t Bogart that potential. Go work with a life coach or attend a conference to reacquaint yourself with your gifts and dreams. And if you’re broke, book yourself for a “stay-cation” at home for a weekend (or however-long-it-takes!) and create a plan for the NEXT thirty years.
No excuses. YOU’RE NOT DONE!
Make YOUR plan. Work YOUR plan.
#5 – Get Your Finances in Order. If you have the resources to travel, play golf all day, or write the great American novel, good for you! And, if you have a great career and oodles of money in your 401K, let’s have a networking dinner (and you can pick up the check).
But if you don’t have a pile of Benjamins, you need to take action NOW to protect your future.
If your spouse has “handled the books” all these years, it’s time to study those books and partner on how your money gets earned and spent. Ignorance is rarely bliss, nor is it an excuse for getting blind-sided by years of debt or foolish speculation.
If you’re working, you might want to consider a job change or some investments. If you’re not working, you may discover that you’ll have to (or may want to) get a job.
Last, it’s time to make sure that you’ve financially cut loose any of your kids (especially “Nzrui!”) who hasn’t gotten the memo that they are now self-responsible LEGAL ADULTS, and must pay their own danged way.
Remember, dear girl, that “CASH is KING!”… (or in your case, “QUEEN”). If you don’t get hold of your finances NOW you may have to forego “The Dearbourne Home For The Beloved Elderly” and instead spend your last days in a Medicaid-accepted facility featured for “elder abuse” on “20/20.”
#6 – Give to Live. You’ve done an amazing job serving your clan. And THAT is a thing to be praised. And sure, go take some time out to work on yourself first. Modah did that for her own cute self. Just don’t become a black hole of self-involvement. The next thing you know you’ll be Clint Eastwood cursing the neighbor-kids in “Grand Torino.”
Instead, out of the wealth of your knowledge, skills and resources, go do something for strangers what you once did for your kin. Giving to others will round out your life. You might not have the physical energy to feed orphans in Guatemala yourself. But you can sure make somebody a meal, or pick a cause to support, or find a person to mentor.
#7 – Party Like It’s 2099! Because, baby, YOU RAISED THEM AND LIVED! Go dine and dance with your hubs. Join the Red Hat Society. Wear a feather boa to breakfast (or to bed!). Knock back some apple-tinis with your girlfriends and toast those well-spent years. GO BUCK WILD!
Remember, feeling “sad” over your empty nest is perfectly okay. Go fluff the pillows on Little Johnny’s twin bed and let the tears roll.
Just make sure that you also DO THESE SEVEN THINGS.
And you’re gonna be just fine.