Remodeling the Empty Nest
From a full house to a half full one
As a mom, I have spent 17 years nurturing and guiding our child, watching her grow from a tiny bundle of joy to an independent young adult ready to go out on her own. But now that she’s not my constant companion everyday, everything I’ve known and done for 17 years has come to a screeching halt. I’ve heard that this transition to becoming an empty nester can be both challenging and exciting, as we navigate a new phase of life filled with possibilities, but as someone who is right at the very beginning of it, I’m looking for the next new thing to occupy my time and my heart. I know over time it will get easier, but for right now I’m exploring my options.
Finding Joy in Four-Legged Fur Babies
One might assume that with our daughter’s departure, the house would suddenly become eerily quiet. However, thanks to our four fur babies, our home continues to overflow with life and activity. Dogs bear an uncanny resemblance to children, don’t they; with their demands for attention, playtime, and even feeding schedules mirror the routines we once had with our human offspring. They do somewhat fill the void, giving me a sense of purpose and companionship that I’ve grown accustomed to from having my girl with me on the daily. But who knew that the pitter-patter of tiny paws and wagging tails could make the empty nest feel less empty? If you are struggling with an empty nest, I say consider pet adoption. We love the folks at Lucky Paws in Springfield, Oregon. They have wonderful animals and do a great job of rescuing our furry friends.
Unleashing my Green Thumb
While the departure of my girl signifies the end of one chapter, it also marks the beginning of new endeavors. As I find myself with more time and energy, I have stumbled upon the therapeutic world of gardening and landscaping. Armed with a trowel, gloves, and an endless DIY curiosity, I have begun to dig my way into hopefully greener pastures (aka lawns). I have discovered that nurturing plants, coaxing blooms, and creating an enchanting outdoor space brings a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that I never anticipated. The transformation of a once-neglected backyard, I mean seriously neglected, into a vibrant haven has become a metaphorical representation of my own personal growth and adaptation to change, and a window into learning about pruning the old to let them new growth out.
In this transitional phase, for me holy optimism has become my source of peace. I find myself relying on hope and joy when thinking about the irony of trading late, I mean late, late-night girl talk for early-morning dog walks. I thank God for the amazing tech that allows me to decipher plant ailments with my Plant Parent app and wonder at the absurdity of trying to protect my budding garden from the mischievous antics of our four-legged children. I am learning to navigate this new terrain with expectant hope, finding certainty in the fact that I am not God, a fact which I used to find unnerving, but thanks to the need for gardening and the joy that has come out of accepting my lot in life as a homeowner without a gardner, I am finding my days filled with exercise and the pleasure of a job well done.
As I reflect on this journey, I realize that God uses different seasons of life to stretch and teach us invaluable lessons. The empty nest is no exception. It challenges us to redefine our identities as individuals and as parents, to rediscover our passions, and to nurture the relationships that have been on the back burner. It's a time of self-discovery, growth, and the realization that our purpose extends beyond raising children. We learn to embrace change, knowing that each season brings its own unique gifts and opportunities.
We learn to embrace change, knowing that each season brings its own unique gifts and opportunities.
Transitioning to an empty nest can be a rollercoaster ride of emotions, but it's a journey that holds a lot of potential for spiritual growth and emotional maturity, two things I always need more of. Whether it's finding fulfillment in the presence of four-legged companions or unearthing a green thumb, or whatever comes next, this season can present all of us with exciting possibilities. By being willing to take on whatever comes with sense of holy expectancy, we can navigate this next phase of life with grace, resilience, and an open hand, embracing the season for what it is. What’s next new thing for you? Wanna share?