Living Your Second Best Life

October 03, 2021

Living Your Second Best Life

Gordon Ramsey admitted to it.  Lorraine Kelly definitely admitted to it and this week Claudia Winkleman had a bad case of it.

Empty Nest Syndrome, the moment our children leave home and everyone's life shifts into a new phase.

Of course, we've raised our children to be independent, to fly.  We want them to get out into the world, to experience all it has, to make a success of their lives but the rub is that to do that, they need to leave.

This week Claudia Winkleman has admitted that having dropped her eldest son off at university she doesn't know how she will cope.   Gordon Ramsey sat on his son's bed when he left and realised just how much he missed him.  I did the same and if, in the last few weeks, it's been your turn to drop your offspring off at university then you may be feeling similarly bereft.

You have my full sympathy because life is now different.  Sure, they come back for holidays (sometimes, no guarantee on that front) but it's never the same again and for me, it was a realisation that being a mum, with my children at home, was actually my best life and I hadn't realised it at the time, amongst the chaos, frustration, tiredness, constant meal making, ferrying them around and dealing with their non-plussed attitude to education.

If you know the background to TOYL then you'll also know that my sons leaving home left me very depressed, a depression out of which my poor husband dragged me before I then started TOYL as I wanted other midlife women to have a place where we could be welcomed, talk about the issues affecting us and not get into the same, low spirited place that I'd been. 

TOYL is still a work in progress in this regards, but if you are low let me give you some advice.  There is no going back.  We cannot move to where our children are to be near them, that way lies madness (and yes, I have absolutely thought of that).  What we have to do is craft, painstakingly, a "Second Best Life", a life that has meaning, joy, value and fulfillment but one that is not centred around our children.

For me, it has been tough.

None of us want to be the needy parent constantly asking if they are coming home for the weekend, none of us want to lay on guilt.  However, the pain is real, we must recognise it and as the incredible Glennon Doyle (who has not been through this yet and acknowledges that it will destroy her when her children leave home) says we must do "hard things".

So, if you can, pick up the things that you want to do with your life now.  Re-examine old dreams, try them on and see if you still want them, look for new adventures that will excite, find similar souls (I'm certainly one).

In short, move into life number two, one where your needs rise to the top of the list for a change and let's see what we can find to excite and fulfill us, together.

 

 

 




2 Responses

Susan Peart
Susan Peart

October 07, 2021

This is a very poignant blog post; one which I think will chime with so many women going through the same experience. There is a lot of talk about the importance of preparing for retirement, so that the sudden life change doesn’t hit us too hard. Should we also be thinking of preparing for the emotional tsunami of the empty nest? It’s real, it’s huge, and it can hit you like a bulldozer (as you have found). It is – for mothers particularly, I think, but fathers feel it too as Gordon Ramsay attests – a bereavement, a loss of a previous life, and a transition into something new. It is also a realisation of the passing of time, and moving into a new chapter (whether we like it or not). To harness all that and turn it into something positive – as you have done – is a brilliant way of turning something negative into something positive, and providing you with a fresh new challenge.

Jolene Mackay
Jolene Mackay

October 07, 2021

Really enjoyed your empty nest article. As a Mum of a 21 year old who has just moved into her uni house, a son of 19 who is 2nd year at uni and never in and a husband who works away from home all week it sure is strange being on my own! I really do need to start doing something for me now xx

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.