I think back to a moment when our daughter had her first baby. She was exhausted. Spent. The feedings rolled around every two hours but by the time she finished the feeding and completed one task such as a quick power nap or shower, two hours had passed and her sweet little one was hungry again. We stood face to face in her living room. Her with her downcast shoulders and me with my sympathetic smile. I cupped her tear-stained cheeks with my love-worn grandma hands and said, “You can do this. Many others have gone before you and survived. It will be okay. I promise!”
Fellow moms of adult children, from personal experience, here are five things I believe we can do to survive and THRIVE when our children move out. You can do this! I promise!
Survival Tip 1: Let them go. Contrary to what many think, our children are not ours to keep. Let them go. Let them do their thing and you do yours. Sure, you’ll stay in touch with them and you do have some say in their lives if you’re paying for their education. But beyond that, let them go. They want us to. They NEED us to. We wanted that from our parents too, right? A healthy “letting go” process creates a healthy return policy. We want them to come home on occasion and not feel as if it’s an obligation or duty.
When we no longer live with them, there is so much beauty in walking beside them. (click to tweet this)
Survival Tip 2: Cry. You know it’s okay to cry right? Yeah, you probably do because you probably have done that a lot. I have. A wise counselor once told me, as I apologized profusely because I couldn’t stop crying, that “Andrea, no one cries forever”. You know what??? It’s true! We don’t. It may seem like we will cry forever, but we won’t. It’s physically impossible. So, dear mom, for now, cry. Get the king size Reese’s and a box of tissues and cry. It’s okay.
Survival Tip 3: Stop crying. I don’t mean that to sound harsh. But I mean it. We’ve got to stop crying. When we had our kids, from the moment the cord was cut, we knew we were letting them go. We knew we wouldn’t get to keep them forever. If we think about it for half a second, we don’t really want to keep them forever. I heard someone once say that “Tonight, we wallow. Tomorrow, we live again.” Take the time to cry, feel, process and wallow, this is part of healing, but don’t get stuck there. Get up tomorrow (or at least soon) and live again. The best kind of life is the one that is lived.
Survival Tip 4: Find Something New to Love. Okay, something other than chocolate. Since you don’t have to ration or hide that anymore, that could be dangerous. Pick up a new hobby, passion, or skill, or revive an old one. Continue your education. Ask yourself what you loved to do before you had kids? What are all those things you wished you could do at 11 pm when you crawled into bed plum tuckered out from mommying all day? What breathes life into your soul? What gives depth to your purpose?
Survival Tip 5: Pay it Forward. Encourage others who come after you. Show them how you survived. Those who are surviving sure could use the hope from someone else out there who has survived. Speak to their heart with yours and tell them, “You can do it”. “You can make it!” “Many others have gone before you and survived.”
Nothers, it’s so easy for us to get bogged down in the depths of despair after our children leave. I get it. I do. I’m actually fighting this feeling now as our baby bird is about to spread her wings. We’ve held them close for so long now, it’s hard to fathom not having them near. It’s so painful when they don’t need us anymore. I hope we can step outside of our situation, after we cry for a bit, and see the good in all of this.
As I mentioned earlier, we start letting them go the moment the cord is cut. A dear friend recently told me that they start walking away from us the moment they take their first step. This is so true. And this is so right! This is how it is supposed to be.
When we let them go to live, it’s not a death sentence for us. It’s the start of something new and wonderful for everyone. Or it can be.
Which of these survival tips resonate with you? Do you have others you could share with us? Please comment here or on the Notherhood.com Facebook page if it’s easier for you.
Photo credit: Pixabay Public Photos (no attribution required)