An Empty Nester’s Guide to Life, The Universe and Everything

An Empty Nester’s Guide to Life, The Universe and Everything June 22, 2024

A Bird Cage. The Empty Nest
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“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I intended to be.”

Douglas Adams

 

I am a huge fan of Douglas Adams. I can thank my husband for that. He introduced me to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy several years ago. Once I picked up the book, I couldn’t put it down. I loved the idea of keeping a towel with you at all times. You might need it for nutrition, drying, or beating off a Vogon. If you have never read his books, I highly recommend them. After I finished the series, I went on to read The Salmon of Doubt. A posthumous publication of little stories that were left on his computer. Though it brought a great bit of sadness that these were his last works, It brought some joy that he left us a parting gift. One such story was that of Genghis Khan and his bad day. When he pillaged the village he came to one home. The woman, thinking she had some sort of torture in store for her was scared. But what Genghis wanted was for her to ask about his day. “Ask me how my day went!?” The woman, confused asked how his day went. It was a delightful tale that was assigned to a well, a right dirty bastard. That little story brings to mind life.  It can be a right dirty bastard, can it not?

Towels. Douglas Adams
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There is No Manual for an Empty Nest

No one prepares you to be an empty nester. Sure, when your kids are little you are annoyed, verklempt, deprived of sleep and constantly on the go. But no one says, “Hey, one day you will long for the screams and noise of children.” Perhaps I am wired differently, but I miss the days of little ones dearly. There are days that I weep for the days when they just wanted to hug mommy. Now they are off graduating college, becoming Army officers and in their words, “Adulting.” My husband and I have raised and launched 6 children. At one time we had 4 in diapers. There are times I think, how did we do it? But, we managed and indeed, did it. 

My Nest is Empty, Now What?

What do you do when the nest is empty? To those who still have little ones at home, I would say pick some things that can fill your time once the nest is empty. I put my life energy in to my children. I don’t regret it, but I do wish that I would have prepared myself better. I sit here right now in my empty and quiet house wondering what to fill my day with. Sure, there are things to do. In life there are always things to do or clean but what meaningful and tangible things can I do? I decided to write books and compose music. Today I have nine books under my belt. I do wish I had started writing sooner. But, the time is now. You can find a place you belong when your loved ones leave the nest. 

Holding hands. Community
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Take Time to Pray

First I would say, PRAY. Why did I put that in all caps? Because it is necessary. Pray a lot. Pray that God will give you direction. Pray for your adult children, pray that they will be a better version of yourself. 

Enjoy the Silence

Next, enjoy the silence. Live in your head. I told my therapist last week it is hard to live in my head. She acknowledged that yes, it is a task, but it is necessary to move on. Live in your head. Let the silence be your teacher. Remember those times that your little ones were around, but also remember what they have done. The task of a parent is to raise good humans who go out into the world and do what you have done, only hopefully better. 

Get to Know Your Significant Other

Get to know your significant other (if you have one.) I work with senior adults 3 times a week. Over and over I have heard them say when the kids leave the nest you get to know your partner again. It is like dating, but older. There are no kids to pick up from ROTC, there are no clubs, no school trips. It is just you and your spouse. There will be quibbles, but it is a magnificent opportunity to rejuvenate your relationship. 

Find your place in the universe
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Find Your Place in the Universe

Find your place in the universe. Find your talent. I never fancied myself a writer, yet here I am. This week my 9th book was published. Find what you thought you wanted to do and do it. We live in a time where you can reinvent yourself over and over. I am in my 40s and doing things I thought I never would. You can too.

Forgive Yourself

Parenting styles vary and the styles change with the times. You may think, “I wish I had never done, XYZ.” Maybe you shouldn’t have. But practice forgiveness. Often we replay scenarios in our head on repeat and then we cringe. It is part of the human condition. It’s okay to forgive yourself, if you need to tell your kids, I did the best I could at the time with the knowledge I had, then do so. Practice forgiving yourself. This leads to a better self and a better relationship with your adult children.

Forgiveness
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Find Your Influence

Finally, find your influence. What does that mean? Help younger folks find their place in the universe. Impart to them that when the nest is empty, find your place. It is not an end, but rather a new beginning. There are still days that I miss my kids so much that I can’t stand it. I want someone to stroll in and ask me to make them some biscuits. They still do, but not as often. But rejoice in the journey. Make your life story epic. You raised some pretty great humans. Let them pass it on to their children. 

Growing Older is a Privilege Denied to Many

Remember, getting older is a privilege denied to many. One thing that I have learned in my 15 years working with seniors is that they need visitors, they get very lonely. But also their wisdom is so vital to keep the world going. Listen to their stories and pass them on. Make your stories, read them, pass them on. Pass on love, pass on what you would want your kids to remember about you when your time comes. Enjoy the empty nest. It may be lonely at times, but know that you have accomplished something great. 

 

Also, check out Douglas Adams. His writing is pretty funny. And don’t forget, the answer to life, the universe and everything is indeed. 42.


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