10 Things New Empty Nesters Struggle With and Some ‘Relief Humor’

Most of the time, major life-transitions are difficult …(And empty nest is one of those times)

So many kinds of transitions. Life is full of them.

The planned and the unplanned. The expected and the unexpected. The ones you long for and the ones you dread.

The transition from childhood to adulthood. From high school to college. From college to grad school. From single to married. From stay-at-home mom to working woman. From one career to another. From no kids to family life. From normal hormones to menopause. From married to divorced. From loving someone to losing someone. From faithless to faithful. From hopeless to hopeful.

Transitions are hard in general because we are required to adjust to a new landscape, a new normal, a new everything.

Just think of the word “transition” for a moment.

What does this word bring to mind for you?

As the mother of eight, I can tell you right where my mind goes to:

Labor. Oh! Glorious labor!

I’m talking “no relief of any kind” labor!

Back labor, Front labor. “Bouncy ball” labor. “Don’t touch me” labor. “I might hurt someone,” labor! “Get this thing out of me now!” labor. “I think I’m gonna die!” labor.

And then…transition.

That final phase of labor is the stretch of time between active labor and delivery. It’s also the most difficult phase of delivery. Contractions are at their peak and they are very long. quite dramatic, and horribly intense. 

Thankfully, for most, transition is also the shortest part of labor.

That period of time when your body is fully ready to send, to release, to offer that precious child you’ve been carrying, into a new environment; the world, your home, your family…your loving and caring arms.

In that moment, when he or she makes their grand entrance, you are forever changed. 

I’m of the mindset that the transition to empty nest carries similar qualities.

Maybe not physically, but let’s not underestimate the emotional aspect of the transition to a quiet empty home that was once filled with people and activity and purpose and love.

When that day comes to release the last of our loved ones into the world – this event too can also seem long, dramatic, and intense.

Anything worth loving involves a fair amount of pain.

It’s part and parcel of the job, right friend?

Labor, raising children, AND releasing them, is a piece of cake…said no one ever.

That’s why a journal can be very helpful.

Several weeks ago, I asked many of you to let me know what you are struggling with, specifically, as you think about your transition to empty nest. And just last week, I asked you to get a new “midlife/empty nest/empty house” journal. It’s a great way to capture key moments in your life that will down the road, help you reflect and consider where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going. For me, journaling becomes a place to process the struggles of life and celebrate them too. It good to have something that you can look back on so that you can see how far you’ve come, and all that God has brought you through.

I want to help you begin to process your own personal journey in a way that leads to new discoveries, to new adventures, to new callings, to possibly new careers, or just a new way of approaching this next chapter of your one beautiful life. I hope you were able to do so. If not, it’s not too late.

View Your Struggle as a Process

I heard from so many of you over the past several weeks and appreciate your honest feedback more than you know.

I knew what I struggled with, so I thought I knew what you’d say, but I wanted to hear straight from you.

This is what YOU said about your transition to empty nest:

  1. You are having trouble letting go.
  2. You no longer feel needed. You don’t know anything else besides being a wife and mother. You are unsure of the future and you don’t know where or how to begin to write the next chapter of your life.
  3. You’re trying to figure out who your “authentic self” is and knowing how to help her “rise to the surface.”
  4. Now that your kids are no longer the center of your attention. you wonder what your husband, friends, and family will think of your new identity if you begin to step out into new territory.
  5. You are struggling to discover way to stay close to out-of-state family (kids & grandkids)
  6. You feel somewhat disillusioned about empty nest. You thought it would create more freedom and space to do the things you’ve put on hold while raising your family, but now you find yourself caring for aging parents, and this is your new norm; not what you planned for or expected.
  7. You cannot seem to bring yourself to redo the space where your kids called “home”…their bedroom. You want to create a space to “make it my own” but you just can’t pull the trigger.
  8. You’re in a season of waiting. You want to move forward, but for one reason or another, you feel like you need to wait for God’s plan to unfold in your life.
  9. You live with a spouse that is difficult. Relational frustration abounds. You feel trapped and stuck with the status quo.
  10. You can’t wait for your last to leave! You’re ready to write the next chapter of your life.


Transition Phase relief: (you’re welcome)

(Please allow me the pleasure of humoring you for a moment. I stole this right from americanpregnancy.org. The article is called, “Stages of Labor.” (Disclaimer: I am only using this source for the purpose of adding value and humor to this post. I am in no way affiliated with nor do I know anything about this organization).

    Transition Phase: What to Do, What to Expect, & Additional Tips

 What to do:

During this phase, the mother will rely heavily on her support person. This is the most      challenging phase, but it is also the shortest. Try to think “one contraction at a time” (this may be hard to do if the contractions are very close together). Remember how far you have already come, and when you feel an urge to push, tell your healthcare provider.

 What to expect:

  • Transition will last about 30 min-2 hrs
  • Your cervix will dilate from 8cm to 10cm
  • Contractions during this phase will last about 60-90 seconds with a 30 second-2 minute rest in between
  • Contractions are long, strong, intense, and can overlap
  • This is the hardest phase but also the shortest
  • You might experience hot flashes, chills, nausea, vomiting, or gas

Tips for the support person:

  • Offer lots of encouragement and praise
  • Avoid small talk
  • Continue breathing with her
  • Help guide her through her contractions with encouragement
  • Encourage her to relax between contractions
  • Don’t think that there is something wrong if she seems to be angry – it is a normal part of transition

I personally found the “Tips for the Support Person” most amusing (and also most helpful). And I thought…”Yes! That’s it!” This is what my Above & Beyond MIdlife blog is all about.

Having a labor coach when I had my firstborn, was so incredibly helpful. I couldn’t have done it without her calming support.

I want to be that support person for you, you mid-life transitioning momma!

I want to be the voice in your week that offers tons of encouragement and praise.

Starting right here. Right now.

You are an amazing woman! You are.

I know this is true because you are created in the image of God to do great things. And I know that He has uniquely gifted you for such a time as this. And here is so much more for you discover!

So, No small talk from me, Sista!

Well maybe once in a while.

For today though, I’m cutting right the chase.

You have poured your heart and soul into motherhood and now it over, or will soon be coming to a close. Well done momma.

Celebrate this amazing milestone. No matter where your child is on their journey, rest knowing that God is writing a new chapter in their life as much as he is in yours. You can trust him. He is worthy of your trust because he is a good God. 

I’m also here to tell you:

You are more than a mom!

And I know that God’s desire for you is to do above and beyond all you could ever ask or imaging. It just takes a posture of faith and a willingness to step out into the deep.

I hate when someone says...”just breathe” or “just relax!” so I won’t use those words per say.

However, I will offer you words of hope and encouragement from God’s Word as you begin to think and dream and pray through the details of your next chapter and what that will look like.

Today, I want to simply say,

“Be still and know that he alone is God.” (Psalm 46:10)

He is good and he is in control and he is working out his perfect plan in your life. Sit with him. Be still. Breath in his love for you. Exhale his kindness toward you. Be refreshed momma. You’ve labored hard and long. Rest a while. You need it. And you deserve it. You are a deeply loved child of God.

And to the final point of advice from American Pregnancy:

Are you angry?

If you need to be angry or feel sad, or lonely, or anything else…go right ahead, momma.

God is big enough to handle all your drama.

I know, because he carried me through all mine!

Empty nest, a  career change, menopause…simultaneously. My poor husband. What a champ!

I was a bit of a mess and I’m okay telling you that. It’s the truth. I cried for months, which at times felt like years. But God met me right there in my mess. He also met me in my searching for answers and in my search for a renewed identity.

For today, for right now, this is what I want to leave you with mid-life momma:

You are a deeply loved child of God.

Your roles and titles do not define who you are or who you are becoming.

Your mothering, your parenting, your labor and your releasing are part of his divine plan for your life.

It is part of your story, it is not the whole of your story.

Today, begin to journal one thing that spoke to you in this post. Perhaps you resonated with one of the 10 Struggles listed above. Write it down. Think about how your feeling about this big change taking place in your life. Be honest about your fears, your expectations, or your excitement. Let God meet you right where you are. Turn to one of the passages listed above and jot down whatever comes to your mind as you read the passage.

Please comment on the blog about where you are. Or feel free to email me. Tell me what excites you or terrifies you about where you are right now. I’d love to hear from you.

Your transition is playing a very important role in moving you toward the future that God has for you. I hope that excites you. I look forward to walking beside you.

Thanks for letting me do just that.

Until next week…

I’m praying that you begin to have more of a glimpse of the life you are meant to live after kids. I’m excited for you. This week, if you want to add to your journal…why not make a list of your current midlife blessings.

Betsy

I’m a Grammie now. She’s amazing. She’s precious.

She’s grand #16. One of my many treasured mid-life gifts.

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