As promised, dear friends, here is part 2 of What Now. How can we move on and upward following one of life’s hardest transitions? I will share this with you: it is of vital importance that you learn to do this part of life well, because leaving them at the dorm is the dress rehearsal for the final “good-bye”-when they get married.
I won’t even go there today.
While I’m sure there are other suggestions, from far wiser folks than me, this is what helped us those first few weeks and months:
- Do not, and I repeat: DO NOT waller in your misery (as we say in the south.) For all non-southerners, “waller” means “roll around” or “stay around” the feelings of loss that are so acute and raw. Don’t pull out the baby books and grieve over how fast the years went.
There is a time and place for that kind of nostalgia and this IS.NOT.IT. Which leads into #2:
2. Try to get into a “normal” daily routine of some sort. Fight the urge to call in sick to work and lay around in your PJ’s. You are not unwell, yet-but moping will get you there quick. Get up and start moving. Let your job help your remember that you are valuable outside your role as mom/dad. If you don’t work-get your walking shoes on and hit the trail basking in the new reality of “your time is YOUR time!”
3. Plan an adventure of some type. Who wouldn’t like a trip to Scotland? But if that’s just not realistic for you-plan a day trip close to home. My hub and I love to bike and there are many rails to trails in our area. Early weekend rides with a packed lunch helped us ease into this new time of our lives.
4. Reconnect with your friends, some who might be struggling too. Misery loves company? We love having bonfires at our house, so we invited a few friends to come have dinner and sit out inthe fall night. Good times…without having to wonder where the kids were. Great times!
5. Find a place to serve. Whether at your church, at a homeless shelter, helping kids with homework, visiting people who are not able to be out and about…or a hundred different opportunities that you couldn’t do when you had your own kids at home-now is your time to help others. And in the process..you help yourself as well.
6. Let service start at home. Channel all of the energy you gave to your children in helping them with whatever they needed-into helping your spouse. Serving your partner can go a long way to starting to restore a relationship that may have been put on the back burner during child rearing. Taking out the trash, picking up cleaning, making sure there are socks in the drawer and a thousand other small, mundane acts of service are really acts of love. These small acts help shore up the foundation where marriage is the center of the home, not the children.
ABOVE ALL: Don’t listen to the lie that the best part of your life is over. This part of life is up to you make it be great-just like the part of life you just left.
You can do this!