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When the Youngest Leaves the Nest

Deborah Porter

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When the youngest leaves the nest…

What now?

The excitement builds as plans for the last one to leave the nest come to fruition. But for many of us, just below the surface is an emptiness that beckons at us. But is that the way it has to be?

We will miss them for sure and may even miss the things that currently drive us a little crazy: dishes left in the sink, a messy room (okay, an atrocious room), but is it true that we will spend weeks walking past their now empty room and break down in tears?

Believe me, I am not trying to make light of this. My spouse and I have traveled this path when each of our three children left home for college. But with each drop off I gained more understanding about what was happening for them and what could potentially happen for my husband and me as a couple, and for me as an individual.

I understood that these might be some of the best years of their life. In part because their father and I were financing a large part of it, but that’s another piece altogether. Also because they would learn more about themselves in the next few years than maybe any time before. Finally, I had to digest that it’s just their time. It is their time to launch, learn and grow in every area of their lives right now. I wanted that launch to be a time of celebration and I wanted to let them know how confident I was that they were more than ready for this next step and this next chapter.

We drove each of our three to their respective campuses and I have to admit, the 8+ hour drive back home to the Midwest was long and quiet. Eerily quiet. I also remember those first few weeks walking past their empty rooms and occasionally pausing to sit or look around at dusty high school awards and banners.

But all of those memories brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart. They were not tearful moments at all. They were special moments that I will hold dear forever but they were also moments and memories that had served us well and whose time had come to an end.

So as you ponder what is ahead for you, as a parent, let me encourage you to take a few leaps.

What would you like to explore? What was the thing you loved doing before having kids or daydreamt about doing while in the throws of parenting that time would not allow for? What did you love doing with your free time during your college years?

These empty nest years have been a time of self-discovery for me as I’ve chosen to step into the uncomfortable and not away from it.

And I’d like to invite you to join me.

Deborah Porter, The Ultimate Mom Coach
Originally shared on CollegiateParent's Facebook page by Deborah Porter. Find more conversation and community in our College Parent Insiders Facebook group. Photo courtesy of the author.
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Deborah Porter is The Ultimate Mom Coach — a life balance coach for dedicated moms who need home management systems and a self-care routine that goes beyond a good mani/pedi. She and her husband have three adult children and she believes that the woman you were before having kids still matters. Deborah is a regular contributor to "Virginia This Morning" on WTVR. Download her free ebook, "7 Habits of Confident Moms"!
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