Over a month has passed since I wrote my last blog about how to cope when your child flies the nest for the first time and as promised, am checking in with you again to ask how you’re getting on.
Assuming that your young-adult is getting along just fine without you – have YOU been enjoying your freedom from parental care duties after all these years? Or are you still walking around the house bereft, sitting in your child’s empty room and at a loss as to what to do, now that your primary role in life as a full-time parent has come to its natural conclusion?
It seems that those who have been a totally hands-on parent to the point of making this their life job – are the worst affected by the departure of their fledgling adults.
If this is you – I just want you to know that it IS TOTALLY NORMAL to feel like you do right now. You’ve made being a parent a full-time job, which is admirable, but just as workaholics who have dedicated their life to their business career feel when they are suddenly made redundant or eventually retire, there comes a time in midlife when we all start casting off our comfortable well-known roles and this can lead to all sorts of turmoil, added to which for women, the hormone yo-yoing of menopause, can make these changes seem insurmountable.
So my advice to you is don’t despair, but don’t just sit around thinking there is nothing more for you to do with your life. There is EVERYTHING to do and now you are being given the most wonderful opportunity to get on and explore who you are again after years of always putting others first.
Seize the day!
I understand the thought might be daunting and you may be feeling totally at a loss – but let’s try to turn this around.
Feeling you’re feeble and helpless?
You can do anything! Think back over the years to all the challenges you have faced and overcome, how you made the seemingly impossible achievable thanks to your courage and persistence.
How many mountains you have moved for your family?
You are competent, caring, compassionate and strong. Remember this.
If you can draw on this very same strength you’ve demonstrated time and again as a parent all these years and redirect this magnificent energy and drive into doing what fulfils YOU … well, you’ll be unstoppable!
Time to reconnect to SuperYou!
It’s time for YOU to fly and swirl your cape–you’ve been SuperMum (or Dad) for years and now it’s time to emerge as SuperYou!
Look at what you’ve achieved! You’ve brought up a child who has grown into a confident young adult raring to go and get on in life. Where has that self-confidence come from? From you.
It’s time to embrace this wonderful new “me” time without a trace of remorse or guilt. You deserve this.
Case Study – from anxious and weepy to dancing salsa in one month!
I’ve been working with a client for the past month who came to me in total tatters just after her only daughter left for university.
She didn’t want to be a hovering helicopter parent – but was aware that she’d been living her life through her daughter ever since she was born and was tortured by the thought that her life-line was going to be cut off by this separation, recognising that she’d let friendships slide and her own interests fall by the wayside and given herself so completely to her mother role, that she’d somehow, somewhere along the way, lost touch with her own identity. She also confessed that she was daunted by the prospect of spending time with her husband, as it would be the first time they’d be properly alone for the first time since they got married. She’d got so used to him in his father/husband role. All their interactions had totally revolved around their daughter’s welfare. Would they have any common ground left, now that she had left?
So, how have I helped her get through this difficult time?
First off, by letting her know that it was OK to shed a tear (but not to drown in them). The departure of your child from the family home leaves a huge void and the absence of their familiar presence can trigger a form of grief. It’s normal to feel sad but not normal to stay there. By encouraging her to acknowledge this sadness and with the help of some effective tapping techniques, she was able to let go and get ready to step back slowly into her own life.
I encouraged her to make a list of all the things she would like to do but had never had the time to get round to. Well, I don’t know if it was the tapping and meditation I combined in our coaching sessions, but even I have been amazed at the speed of her transformation in the past month!
She’s joined a choir, reclaiming her voice years after being a solo soprano in her school choir and met a whole new circle of potential friends as a result. She’s connected with her best school friend after years of not being in touch and is about to start volunteering with a children’s help-line to channel all that wonderful advice and nurturing she’s given to her own daughter, to children who never sadly receive it from their own.
As to her relationship – she first met her husband on a dance floor and she’s persuaded him to take up Latin dancing classes with her. “We´re like a pair of love-struck teenagers again – it’s like we´re taking up again as a couple where we left off”
How great is that? She’s recovered the courage to be herself again and she’s found a renewed energy and enthusiasm for life she hadn’t thought possible.
I asked her if she missed her daughter in our final session last night.
“Well, she seems to be so happy and the fact that she can hear that we’re both full of beans too, has made it easier for her to settle in. She’s since confessed to me that she’d been worrying about us!”
We often forget as parents that the separation anxiety can be two-sided, so it’s up to us as the older and wiser ones, to set the example that yes, change can be scary, but it’s also a great opportunity for us all to grow into our true selves, by taking up the reins and moving forward to this next natural phase in life, with ease and grace.
I know that this is a challenging and unsettling time – and if you’re feeling bad about feeling bad – please be kind to yourself. Take time to adjust. Pat yourself on the back and when you’re ready…What’s next for you?
A whole new world of Midlife Magnificence!
If you’re struggling to adjust to this major midlife shift – I’d love to help you to launch yourself as a fully-fledged Magnificent Midlifer as I do with countless clients. Contact me for a totally confidential and free 20 minute chat.