What I Learned After the First Year of Empty Nest 

What I Learned After the First Year of Empty Nest 

Sometimes you still see them as a little baby bird, not ready to leave the nest!

Last August, we experienced our first dose of empty nest as we moved one of our girls   into a college dorm.  I wrote about it here.

This past weekend we repeated the same journey.  With a much less loaded minivan we helped move my stepdaughter into the dorm.  On this trip, Instead of a knot twisting in my stomach, I felt peace and excitement for her upcoming year. 

The unloading was much easier this year!
At the dorm we greeted the now familiar staff, smiled at the other parents and gave imaginary hugs to the moms of  newbie students trying to hold it together and not cry in front of their child. 

This year is different because we now know what to expect. A year’s worth of experiences under our belts helped us to arrive at this confident attitude. 

Some more words of encouragement for parents leaving their student!
So, what words can I offer to this year’s newbie parents after my first year experience of empty nest?

It’s okay to be sad.  Acknowledge your sadness.  Cry.  You and your student are going through a huge developmental milestone. It would be weird not  to feel anything.  Also, acknowledge if you begin to feel happiness or excitement for having more time to yourself!   That’s allowed!

Your child will return to you.  As long as dirty laundry exists, you will see your child again!  (Or at least their unwashed clothes!) You might even be surprised how a weekend visit disrupts your plans!  

Your child will now know more than you do.  Be prepared. It will no longer matter that you hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, much less a post doc degree in the school of life…your child has been participating in thought provoking discussions learning new fangled ideas and better ways to live.  Suddenly  you know nothing. That new sophisticated attitude is also a developmental milestone, but bless!  Jesus be near me.

Your child will need you but in different ways.  Even though they are independent, your student still needs your emotional, spiritual as well as financial support. Supporting your student is a little trickier as they want to be independent and not get grilled about classes, lectured or told what to do.  

I have learned to let my stepdaughter lead the conversation, listen with my heart as well as my ears and suggest advice only if I believe that’s what she’s needing…another voice, another perspective concerning the situation. Sometimes your best move is to step back and let your child make their own decision even if it’s one you wouldn’t choose for them. Growing Up 101.

Be your child’s  biggest advocate.   Advocate doesn’t mean cheerleader. Although we certainly cheer on our student, we take on a different role when we advocate for her.  An advocate supports the person as a whole, or as the profs say in college…globally.  Sometimes to be your child’s best advocate, you must tell them No.  Not the easiest conversation to have with your learning to adult child, but maybe the most necessary. That’s when the adult part of you kicks in overriding the best friend part of you. 

Your child is equipped to begin the task of college!  Don’t panic. What you’ve poured into your child since their birth won’t suddenly evaporate. There will be challenges and there will be triumphs but your student is ready!

Let your student soar!

Any seasoned college parents out there?  What advice would you share to first time college parents?  Comment below, I’d love to learn from you as well!

What I Learned in July

What I Learned in July

  

Beary representing ‘Murica!
  
July is the jewel of Summer and begins with fireworks and seemingly endless long sunlight days and languid lightening bug summer nights.  

Unbelievably, July is now at an end, and for us, the end of summer break. The end of July has collapsed into muggy, humid and insufferable days here in Kentucky. #LordHaveMercy #sorryJuly

So, I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman and friends sharing what I’ve learned this July.

1.  4th of July fireworks  in a rainstorm still    sparks joy!

Soggy viewing of Nashville’s fireworks!
 

Although less than optimal conditions, we joined the crush of humanity down on Broadway and watched the 30 plus minutes of fireworks and, had a blast!  I’m learning to let go of outcomes, (thanks Emily P. Freeman via Simply Tuesday) and it’s freeing!

2.  Empty Nest is a Real Thing!

So many shades of gray in bath mats!

Dorm shopping is not for the faint of heart (so many choices, so many price points) and we accomplished it in one week’s time. I’m so excited for this new chapter but totally unprepared for the rush of emotions that hit me in the middle of an aisle at Target where I had to hold back tears.   

As a stepmom, I came in the middle of my stepdaughter’s childhood, but these last seven years have sped by and I realized how many of her major developmental milestones I’ve witnessed. 

My only advice to parents trudging through 4th grade homework, arguing over teeth brushing and showers, and attending endless school assembly programs is enjoy it now.  This time passes too quickly.  Such a cliche but so much truth. 

Embrace the drudgery and exhaustion because one day you might have a breakdown in Target’s storage section. 

3. I’m late to the podcast party!

 

A partial list of what’s up on my podcast app. Not shown are Hopeologie and The Influence Network!
   
Many of you already know about podcasts, but for those who do not, podcasts are simply audio recordings of interviews/discussions on any topic/person.  Like how do ocean currents work?  Helen Hunt’s storytelling process, why reading aloud to your kids matters, etc.  They are free (!) and informative besides entertaining!

Somehow I thought the only way one could listen to podcasts were via a desktop computer. But no, iTunes (and other podcast apps) allow one to download the podcast onto your iPhone where you can listen as you go! Yay!

I listen to podcasts when I go for a walk, a long drive or household chores. I especially love finding interviews of favorite authors or bloggers and their insights. 

4. Water is necessary for life. (My husband is a Rockstar)

The beginning of the dig…

We lost water pressure to our house and after checking with neighbors realized we had a leak somewhere on our property. Not so much fun considering our house sits way back from the road and smack dab in the middle of muggy July.  So, after a few miserable days without water we found the break in the line near an outside field faucet, and my  husband began digging.   

That’s alot of digging!!

The culprit…tree roots. And, after a quick trip to the plumber’s supply store, my rockstar husband fixed it for $9!  I’ve never been so happy to take a shower in my own house or flush a toilet!  

5. Madeleine L’Engle is a Kindred Spirit.  

 

So good and timely!
 

I kept seeing this book pop up on Emily P. Freeman’s blog and social media and finally broke down and ordered it as the local library didn’t have a copy. 

I’m so glad I bought my own because I’ve underlined and written on every page. This book came to me at the right time…a book for your soul, for the writer and for the follower of Jesus. I’m such a huge fan of her books but now I’m even more fascinated by her life and insights into writing and God. 

6.  This Quote.  

-Theodore Roosevelt

I’ve seen this quote countless times but when I recently posted it to my social media, it took off and resonated with others as well.   Here’s what I posted with my hand lettering quote:

How many times have you compared yourself against someone else?  You’re robbing yourself of joy, you know that, right?  We each have different talents and gifts and that’s a good thing!! Celebrate your ordinariness and smallness (remember nothing impresses God) and thank Him for what He has given you!

The above insight is a synthesis of life events, Emily P. Freeman’s Simply Tuesday (releasing in 2 weeks!) and my sweet Mama!

What did you learn in July?  Comment below!!