All parents know that this day will arrive… the start of the empty nest. When we begin our parenting journey, then we are amazed at all of the new things our children learn and grow to do and all of their “firsts”. I have loved with all of my heart every step of my parenting journey with my three children. I love being a mom. I love each of my children fiercely and could not be more proud to be PK, Kylee, and MiKayla’s mom. Am I ready for the empty nest season…
When my son was born on June 4, 1995, I was amazed at every thing about him. I have experienced this same awe and wonder with both of my daughters. My children and I have been close through lots of joyful times and have grown even closer as we have walked together through the worst times of our lives. The four of us went through immense pain and grief when we lost my husband in August 2011. Those were such painful times to see my children hurting in ways that I never thought that they would have to at those young ages. When my only son PK was killed in a car accident in June 2013 at the young age of 18, I was devastated. Heart broken. Lost. In the midst of my pain, my two daughters have been my hope and my joy.
I have been amazed at their growth and healing. I still tell myself each day… they deserve your best just as much as your son did. When it was time for Kylee to go to college in August 2015, then I was filled with such a mix of emotions. I was so excited that she got to experience her senior year and was headed in to the next season of her life. My son did not get to experience his senior year or go to college. I would read and hear so many parents saying, “Time stop”, or “Time slow down.” Everything in me would scream, “NO!” Time stopped for my son. I wanted time to keep going for my two daughters.
I have watched Kylee thrive in college. She has grown so much emotionally and spiritually. She is continuing to find her way into her future and in her healing. Even though Kylee and I have been living apart for the past three years, I honestly feel closer to Kylee then ever. Our relationship has continued to grow and develop just as much as she has. Our relationship is changing into one where my daughter is not just trying to share what is going on with her which she knows I love, but she also is truly desiring to learn more and more about how her mom is doing. She takes steps to show me now that she is supporting me in my hopes and dreams of writing and speaking with those in pain and who are grieving. She does her best to be at events that I am speaking at. Kylee’s and my relationship continues to grow and change. Even though I miss her so much when she is away, I am so thankful for how close we are and for the special relationship that we continue to share. I am so thankful that as the seasons in our lives have continued to change that we have continued to grow closer.
MiKayla and I have lived alone for the past three years. MiKayla’s and my relationship has been so close. I have watched her as she has grown so much emotionally and spiritually this past year. I have cheered her on each step of the way as I have watched her grow and mature. She is beginning college and is ready. She has grown leaps and bounds this past year. She has learned so much more about expressing her feelings and her pain. The growth that she has experienced has amazed me, and my heart is so thankful.
As MiKayla and I have approached the time for her to go to college, I have been so thankful to see her excitement grow and grow. I have been able to know in my heart that my baby girl is ready for this next step. I have also noticed a concern from her heart that she was worried about her mom. I could tell that she was concerned about me being alone. I have had countless people ask me in these last months, “What are you going to do? Both of your girls are going to be gone.” I am never quite sure how to answer that as it often feels like they are having genuine concern about me being alone. I have had a lot of people tell me what they want to do together with me this coming year from games, to walks, to dinners, and other ways of spending time together. My response has often been, “Please tell MiKayla.” I have known that my sweet baby girl needs to hear from others what they will be doing with her mom. She has happily reported to me when someone did this with her. I have known deep in my heart that this was so important for MiKayla. She needed to know that her mom had people to spend time with and was going to continue to have joy in her life. That has been so crucial for me to know that MiKayla knows that deep within her heart. I have not wanted my baby girl to be at college worrying about her mom. I want MiKayla to have a wonderful college experience just as her sister has been living. I want both of my girls to find joy and soar in all that they do.
Last weekend, we moved Kylee in to her apartment on Saturday, and we moved MiKayla in to her residence hall room on Sunday. On Friday night, the night before our two big moving days, MiKayla and I were sitting on the couch together. MiKayla said to me in tears, “I am really excited for college mom, but I am also so sad because it has been just you and I together for so long.” Tears poured down my face as I looked deep within her eyes knowing that her words expressed both what we were feeling so deeply. We both sat on the couch and cried and hugged each other. Her words summed up what we were feeling so well. I was also so excited for my daughter to be able to enter into this new season of her life, but oh how I will miss having her with me. We have been blessed with such a close, loving relationship. We cried and hugged as we thought about the two upcoming days.
Through these last months, I have had some parents share with me about how excited they were to have their kids move out. One mom even told me about how she was dancing because she was so excited. She and her daughter had experienced a lot of conflict. My heart could not even relate to that story which I am so thankful for. I have known that my girls and I have been so close. I am sure that all of the trauma that we have had to live through together from losing their daddy and then their only brother only 22 months apart in time has played a big part in that as well. I am so thankful for the closeness that I share with both of my daughters and for the closeness that they share with each other.
On Saturday, we moved Kylee in and set up the most that we were able to in a day’s time. Kylee was really excited to get back to her university and to be reunited with all of her dear friends that she has grown so close to through these past three years at college. Kylee has decided not to be a physical therapist and is now contemplating a few options that she is considering for graduate school after she graduates in May 2019. It will be another adventure for me to watch how she arrives at her decision and to watch what she chooses. I have loved watching her grow and mature and am so excited to see what she does in her life. I am ever thankful that time has not stopped for her and that her life is continuing with new and wonderful experiences.
On Sunday, as I left the house driving MiKayla’s “stuff” in my vehicle, I watched as she drove her own vehicle in to this new season of her life. My heart was feeling countless different emotions. I was feeling much gratefulness for all of our time together and that she was excitedly entering this new season of her life. I was feeling much thankfulness at the emotional growth and healing that I was seeing in her. I was celebrating that she was ready to begin this new season. I was feeling much sadness that this season in my life was over. I believe with all of my heart that my relationships will continue to grow with each of my daughters and that we will remain close. I will celebrate each moment, each adventure, each new season that they are able to experience. That is so important for me and is a part of my own healing from all that I grieve that my son was not able to do or to experience. I will cheer and pray my two girls on each step of the way. I am extremely excited and thankful that they are attending the same university. They will love their time together as they bring each other so much joy.
Steady tears have poured down my face as I have written this. I am full of so many feelings for my two daughters. My greatest feeling is gratitude. Gratitude that God has helped us in the most painful seasons of our lives and that even in the midst of so much pain that we have found joy and love as we have continued on our journeys together. One thing that I truly celebrate is that this new season of our lives is not “goodbye” to my girls. I had to say goodbye to my son. I had to bury him. I have to miss him every day. I have to live with the pain of knowing that I will not have another day with him in my life on this earth. That has been and continues to be the most tragic, heartbreaking goodbye of my life. This is not goodbye to my girls. This is goodbye to a season, but the tremendous blessing that the three of us know is that as we say goodbye to this season of our lives that we get to say hello to this new season. I will truly miss much that I have had the opportunity to share with my children as we all lived together for the past 23 years; however, I will find joy and hope in the seasons that are to come.
“Life is about change, and the ability to adapt to those changes. Do not fear the changing seasons. Taste the fruit and drink the drink of each. Whether bitter or sweet, it, too, shall pass.” Found on THEDAILYDOLLCOM
This new season will bring much joy in my two girls lives. I will have so much joy and gratitude as I continue to watch them grow, heal, and learn. It will be so much fun to be a part of their big life decisions that they are making and to celebrate with them each new opportunity. I will love continuing to grow closer to my daughters and making new memories in our future. I love you my two sweethearts with all of my heart, and I could not be more proud to be your mom.
Let me finish by answering the question that I am continually asked in this changing of the seasons for me, “What will you do now?” I internally laugh every time I am asked this question as there exists a part of me that wonders the same thing. I can share what I believe to be true for my next season of life that has now arrived. I will continue to work and to do my best to provide the best that I can for my two girls. I have tried hard these last seven years as a widow to provide the best that I can for my two daughters and to give them the best life, experiences, and moments that I am able to. This will continue to be my priority with my girls.
I will continue to reach out to those who are grieving and in pain. After living in so much grief the last seven years, then my heart cries for and with those who are grieving. I will continue to blog and hope to see continued growth in the blog. I am ever grateful to each one of you who participates in this process with me by sharing my blog and our journey with others. I am thankful for each one who has subscribed to the blog as this helps me with my upcoming book proposal. They are interested in numbers. 🙂 I am thankful for each one who takes the time to read and to send me feedback on the blogs. As you share the blog, then you are helping the girls and I to connect with more and more who are in pain. Thank you with all of my heart for being so loving and supportive through this process.
I am going to get my book proposal back out. I have not looked at my book proposal for over a year. My focus has been on the blog and building it. I believe that it is time to get the proposal out and finish it and begin to submit it to those who may pick it up. I hope to continue to speak with others about grief and pain and about other topics that I have experienced or lived through. Thank you to each one who has reached out to me and has given me such wonderful opportunities to share our story and what we are learning with others. Your help and opportunities have blessed my heart more than you know. Thank you.
I am going to continue to challenge myself to keep growing and healing in all areas of my life including emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I will continue to thank God for each blessing in my life and for each new adventure that awaits. I am looking forward to spending time with old and new friends. I am excited for each future moment and memory with my two incredible daughters.
My journey will continue. I am thankful that as I step into this new “empty nest” season that my heart is full of gratitude, love, and joy even in the midst of my grief and pain. Much love and thanks to each of you who continue to journey with my two daughters and I.
“I have resolved to live, not just endure, each season of my life.” Found on aimhappy.com