In The Empty Nest Transition is Hard
Transition can be a bumpy ride for anyone. The transition to the empty nest isn’t just about being confronted with quietness in the home. It might be more about your identity. When our kids were home, one result of all of their extracurricular activities, including school functions and church parties at our house, was that I became very comfortable being known as Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi’s dad. I was identified by my role in my kids’ lives. Many of my friendships and conversations took place at games and dance recitals. It happened so quickly: after years of constant activity, the events abruptly stopped. And I realized that I had lost a significant number of spontaneous relationships. It was lonely.
In the transition, be aware that you may experience symptoms of depression or anxiety in your adjustment to your children being gone. For me, these symptoms were triggered by the sight of an empty room or a vacant spot at the table. I missed our special dates for fun food or walks on the beach. As the memories flooded in, it was brutal. The move from actively parenting to not being needed daily hit me hard. Change is difficult for me anyway. I’ve lived in the same house and worked at the same job most of my adult life. My guess is most dedicated single parents find it especially challenging.
Even the mildest symptoms of anxiety and depression are your body and mind signaling your discomfort. If you are experiencing any of these transition responses, know that what you are going through is normal and emotionally draining. There really isn’t a right way to feel. Most parents vacillate between sadness and joy.