Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Starting to Rethink the Empty Nest

As Chuck and I sat in a shady spot on the deck, taking a break from yard work in the hot sun, Chuck asked what thoughts I'd been having about the empty nest

He knows there have been days I have been sad as I have watched Bridger become more independent, and I realize his childhood has come to a close. I am so proud of who our boy is, and what he does, and I know that he is more than ready to live life on his terms. Sometimes it's hard for this mama to let go. 

"I've been thinking a lot lately about the importance of reframing my thoughts. There are things I complain about, or worry about, that if I simply changed my perspective, they would no longer be problems," I told Chuck.

We talked a little more before resuming our attack on the back yard, and we continue to explore our thoughts about the next stage of our life during our early morning talks.
Dylan & Jamie

Reframing thoughts is not a new concept to me. Dylan, my oldest, gave me a plaque that I had in my kitchen, and later, in my fifth grade classroom. It was a black wooden plank that was lettered in a creamy beige with this quote: 

"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." 

I love that saying. It became my battle cry at school whenever we started a new unit in math, and the kids inevitably protested that the topic was too hard. As soon as the whining began, I would simply point to the plaque in the front of the room, and have them read it to me. And each time I would have them finish this phrase for me, "Math's not hard..."  

"IT JUST TAKES TIME,"  my students would recite, in unison.

It's time to change the way I look at things. Reframing my thoughts could also be considered an attitude adjustment. One of my current worries that nibbles away at my peace of mind is realizing our youngest child is heading off to college in just a couple of months. 

The difference this time is that this is feeling so final. Bridger is our youngest, my baby boy. We live 1400 miles away from where he will be going to college. When he gets a break from his studies, he can't pop in for a weekend without a lot of planning in advance and a plane ticket. Our visits will not be like they were when he was in high school, with two week stretches at a time. 
Bridge and I visited Sisi in La Jolla.

It's not just Bridger I will miss while living so far away in Illinois. During our monthly these last several years, B and I took road trips to visit Sierra in Denver, and later, La Jolla, since she moved out on her own. We enjoyed our weekends with Dylan and Jamie in Saint George or at our house, going out to eat, hiking, and hanging out. Things will be different now.

Is there another way to think about this? Instead of seeing these changes as challenges, can't I look at this next phase of life as one filled with new opportunities? While our children are busy living their lives with agendas of their own, Chuck and I will continue living our lives to the fullest.

Change is not bad; I know that. Rather than focusing on a childhood lost, I need to redirect my attention to the positives of having our last child experiencing "adulthood found."  I just need to change the way I've been looking at this. There are some hidden gems here I am overlooking. It's up to me to find them.


  1. I so empathise. Yes, reframing is great and necessary. In my experience the empty nest is one of a series of natural grief processes and you grieve and come out the other side - changed.

    1. I am coming to terms with this next phase. Our youngest is so excited; it's hard to be sad about the exciting future he has ahead of him.


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