Empty Nester Kuel Category Expert: Jennie Eriksen
Let me start this brand new blog post by firstly introducing myself. My name’s Jennie and I’m an “empty nester”.
It’s been 30 days since my last “squeezy cudfest” (I’ll explain that one later) with one of my children and I can already…sigh… feel my bottom lip sticking out and a little tear forming.
Deep breath…. Take two (dabs tear, repositions face, clears throat and applies game face). My name is still Jennie and I’m the proud mother of two amazing adult children who took the advice my husband and I gave them as children to see the world and embrace life and opportunities. So… not only have they flown the nest but both took a jet plane or two and moved overseas to work and study. How dare they? (Yes, my tongue is firmly stuck in my cheek).
Let’s rewind a little shall we? When the opportunity came up to write an empty nest segment for Kuel Life, I couldn’t sign on the dotted line quickly enough. Having just returned from visiting my son in Dubai, joined briefly by my daughter from Australia, I was definitely feeling like a winning contestant on Jeopardy: “empty nest for $2,000 please” “what is Jennie going to do with all her empty nest knowledge and experience?”
I’m a pay it forward kinda gal.
I know there are moms and dads and extended family who are dreading children uttering those immortal lines “I’m off to college”, “I’ve decided to get a place of my own” or “I’m getting married”.
Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that! Of course you want to support your children continuing their education, being able to live independently, or finding the partner of their dreams to set up home and start their own family one day, maybe, but yikes… that means they’re moving out (and probably won’t be moving back). They’re off on their next exciting chapter, making plans, changing their lives, and no doubt stretching their comfort zones whilst you’re left behind.
And what about you?
“What will you do with yourself?”
They’ve been an integral part of your life since… well… since you were blessed with them and whilst you knew this would happen one day you’ve maybe buried your head in the sand and blocked all thoughts of it out, or… maybe you’ve spent a while with knots in your tummy and an impending sense of doom dreading this day…and now it’s really happening!! What will you do with yourself? Your life’s purpose is just about to head out the door and it seems only yesterday they were starting kindergarten (when you also may have been inconsolable as they toddled their way into a bigger life). And now they’re going to be navigating life…without you!!
Family life as you know it will have changed forever, you may be lamenting and yes… to a degree this is true.
“Empty nest syndrome is described as a feeling of grief and loneliness and these feelings for a lot of people are very real.”
And I gotta tell you I would be a massive fibber if I didn’t admit to a few tears, wistful wanders around child free bedrooms and a longing to be affectionately leaned on (they’re both over 6 ft tall, I barely scrape 5 ft 6 and they think it’s a hoot to lean on me and squash me – aka a “squeezy cudfest”). I could mourn and mope for England, if I let myself, but I’ve chosen not to because they haven’t died… they’ve just moved onto a new stage of their lives that relegates me from central cast character in this game of life to more of a featured character. I’m good with that because despite wanting the status quo to remain because physical life on a daily basis seems unbearable, deep in my heart I don’t begrudge them the opportunity to spread their wings and embrace all life has to offer – after all, we encouraged it!
The good news is that not only is this survivable but there IS life post your chicks flying the coop – a life which very much includes them – just in a different capacity! If you believe your life no longer has purpose, you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a new chapter for them… and a new chapter for you too! And you get to write it!
I’ve lots more to share with you, as the months progress, which I’m really looking forward to! As I bring this article to a close on a Friday evening, I can tell you I’ve spoken to both my kids more this week than when they both lived at home as teenagers and were either monosyllabic (favourite son) or flying out the door to the next theatre or dance class (favourite daughter). Despite being “independent grown-ups” this week, we’ve chatted to them (amongst many other things) about tech, travel, cookies (the yummy chocolate kind), dubious landlords, Netflix, a lost key (which turned up in a bag of gummy frogs), best bagel flavours, and spinning. And all is good with the world!
Until next time!
About the Author
Jennie Eriksen, when not obsessing over her grown up children, Jake and Pia, spends her time working with awesome midlife women (and sometimes men) who have reached a crossroads and are looking to embrace the next chapter of their lives. As a Midlife Reinvention Coach, who walks her talk, she feels privileged to help midlifers figure out “what’s next” as they embrace lifestyle and business transformations. When she is not doing that you’ll find her talking to herself in a small padded room; as she is also a British voiceover working with global clients who seem to like her dulcet tones.
With two children based overseas, you can probably guess Jennie is an avid traveller. When not visiting her jet-setting kids, she and her husband like to take a “just us” trips. And… if it involves good food; that’s a bonus for the pair of die-hard foodies.
Kuel Life Note: We let Jennie spell the British way; after all, she does live in Norway.