What Binds Us Together
There is such a wonderful comradery amongst people in the empty nest stage of life. Day after day I am reminded of the importance of mutual support and understanding as we all make an effort to help each other through this life juncture. A knowing glance from a friend as you share your fears for an aging parent’s future. A quiet nod as you express concern for a situation that your adult child finds himself in. A gentle hug as you mention how much you miss your recently deceased parent. All of these things confirm that so many of us have similar and shared experiences, and that we have much to offer each other to support this time of transition.
Last summer, two friends and I took our grandbabies on a play date. It was such a great day; playing in the park, riding the Merry-Go-Round, splashing in the water. After previously hearing stories about those precious babies, and seeing plenty of pictures of them, it was wonderful to get to meet the little ones that are bringing so much joy into the lives of my friends. Along with playing, we could comfortably chat about our hopes and dreams for them. There is just a sort of bond shared between friends who are also grandparents that you simply can’t explain.
Most folks with an empty nest either currently have, or have recently had, aging parents. We often are left to assist with huge decisions about their future; a responsibility that is both frightening and a bit sad. At some point you realize that you have reached that moment when things will never again be the same. Frequently it means helping at least one parent to relocate into a new housing situation, or even transitioning into nursing care. It is so heartwarming to realize that so many others not only empathize with your situation, but show their support through words and kindnesses.
Of course, the empty nest doesn’t only present itself with difficult situations. It can also bring about changes that are lots of fun. Often we are able to begin to travel more, or to enjoy hobbies that we have left on the back burner. Fitness is easier to work into our schedules, and retirement often looms on the horizon. New recipes are waiting to be tried, grandbabies are waiting to be snuggled, and new adventures are waiting to be explored. All of these things are even more enjoyable when they are shared with family and friends.
When you have spent much of your life raising children and investing so much of your love, time and effort into them; having them fly from our nests is a huge change. It is a time of transition and constant reflection. It is also a time of anticipation. Knowing that you share these experiences and feelings with an ever-growing army of people is both comforting and exciting. The next time you get a chance, take a moment to share a glance…. a nod…. a much needed hug.