Children leave home for different reasons – to go to boarding school or university, to live with a partner, to live independently, perhaps even to escape mum and dad. Most of us long to see our children happy, independent, confident yet when the day comes that they leave home… we may struggle.
For women, we might relish the idea of having more time to our self, having given our all to taking care of our children, only to find an endless amount of time stretching before us … and nothing to do. We no longer feel useful, we’ve lost our role, we may feel we no longer know who we are.
When my children left home in Hong Kong to go to boarding school in the UK, I never expected the sense of loss I would feel. I felt as if I was in a big black hole with an endless amount of spare time. I tried to keep myself busy and give myself a sense of purpose. It was not enough to fill the sense of emptiness. I longed for something fulfilling and had no idea what that might be.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of keeping busy to avoid our emotions, however we need to feel our sadness and grief. I learned that the hard way! Acknowledge how you feel, be honest with yourself, allow yourself time to feel, without falling into overwhelm. If you need support, see a professional.
What is the opportunity? The opportunity is for a new start. A different relationship with your children; to become a couple again with your partner; reignite any passion you perhaps abandoned when you started a family. It’s a time to rediscover who you are, beyond all the roles you’ve played, and ask your soul what next.
Of course, it’s a choice how you see things – time for a new start, or the end of everything that mattered to you?