Have you ever been fired unexpectedly from previous jobs due to budget cuts, restructuring or whatever flimsy excuse your supervisors used to justify cutting off your livelihood? Whether our employment evaluations came annually or more frequently, we usually had a gauge of where we stood as employees within our company structure. If not, our boss would generously offer criticisms or point out corrections for us to make on the job. It may have been challenging then, but adjustments were necessary if we wanted to stay employed.
However, when you’re “fired as a mom” and hurled into the dreaded empty nest, there is typically zero warning. I was unaware when I entered my empty nest season until the 10th person enthusiastically greeted me with, “Hey, empty nester!” At first, I thought they were cursing at me. I became more and more disillusioned each time I heard it. Those words were innocent apart, but when combined and aimed at a mom who felt like she was forced into retirement, it was abrasive, offensive, and downright hurtful.
The difference is it’s not your ability, competence, or performance that’s the issue. Indeed, we as moms fall short on this path to perfecting motherhood, and if you’re anything like me, that was almost daily. The problem is when your children leave the nest and you realise you aren’t ready for this season’s arrival.
When Your Nest is Officially Empty
It was the week of my youngest daughter’s graduation, and we had guests coming in from out of town, a full house, and back-to-back activities to attend besides the graduation commencement ceremony. It was a whirlwind of a week packed with ample adrenaline and abounding celebration.
Yet, it wasn’t until a week later, when all the guests were gone, the onslaught of emails from her school with demands that began with “dear parents of seniors” abruptly ceased, my daughter had left for her post-graduation dream summer vacation to Europe, and the house was empty again when it happened.
The silence was deafening, but I proceeded to go about my day and decided to finish editing my daughter’s graduation video, which I shot with my phone, mind you. But as I listened to the speaker announce her name and watched the recorded footage of her crossing that stage again, it hit me like a ton of bricks. To my surprise, and before I realized it, I was flung into an involuntary state of weeping, crying like a baby whose bottle was stolen mid-feeding. The tears were constant, and that’s when I realized my nest was officially empty, whether I liked it or not. I did not like it!
Now, What?! Congrats, You’ve Been Promoted!
I know it doesn’t feel like it, but trust me, you are. You have played such an integral role in the lives of your children. Each of our walks was incomparable to one another, but we were all super-mums in our own way. Perhaps you have been that rock that rarely crumbled under the pressures of motherhood, and when you did, you barely let anyone see it. Maybe you were the master juggler who was able to handle multiple things happening all at once while still able to lay out a three-course meal by the end of the day. Were you the solution giver, their soundboard offering wisdom when their worlds seemed to be falling apart? Or were you the one they could depend on and expected to be their greatest advocate with each milestone they accomplished?
It’s safe to say that most of us were all of the above including that silent warrior everyone needed but often forgot after winning each battle. Your resourcefulness and quick thinking warded off the most dangerous situations and enemies to protect your children. Our savvy mum’s behaviour regarding everything practical carried our kids over to conquer the next day.
So, although this empty nesting promotion business I’m speaking of may not come with a fat pay raise, if any increased wages at all, know that you deserve a raise. By letting go of your 24/7 mothering job, you can make room for new opportunities.
This is what we will call “your promotion,” but as we contemplate this, know that it will once again vary for each of us. The best part is that you have complete control over what this will look like. As a full-time mom, I often questioned who was in charge as it seemed I functioned daily only to serve my kids and answer their every beck and call. However, with this promotion, you call all the shots, design, alter, and elevate it as you please. Again, it may not feel that way, but you are the boss!
That’s right, it’s time to get excited, as the hour has come when we are celebrating YOU and your new promotion. As an empty nester, you’re officially a member of the “team elevated“. Set your emotions and feelings of doubt aside, as our hearts can be beguiling, especially if you’re a mum like myself going through it while weathering this menacing menopause stage.
Instead, trust the evidence. You carried, birthed, and successfully raised these precious human beings who depended on you 24/7. That fact alone calls for a promotion and is well deserved, know that.
Get Ready For Your Next Chapter
So what does that look like? Here’s a list that includes but is most definitely not limited to the various levels you can take in your new elevated promotion:
1. Goal Setting
I have this item listed first, as I feel it’s imperative to write things down, even if it is a rough draft in a notes app on your phone. I am a visual learner, so seeing the path or steps I need to take is critical to making the initial leap and executing the necessary actions to keep going. Also, keep this list loose and leave room for modifications, knowing that you will and are entitled to change your mind as often as you please.
2. Gain Clarity
Start decluttering the items in your life that you have unnecessarily collected over the years and organize your space. Taking inventory of material things that aren’t necessarily benefitting us can be a productive cleansing agent. Clutter makes me cranky and emits an alert in my brain that because things are out of place physically, something in my life requires my attention. For some people, this can cause loss of sleep, interrupted concentration, stifled productivity, sadness, and even anger. I work better once I clear the tangible mess, ultimately aiding in wiping away the mental cobwebs.
3. Stay Present as Mum
Just because your chicks flew the coup does not mean they don’t need you. They will always need you! As I have stated before, it will look a little different. Age 25 or 52, they will forever be our babies, and as veterans of this school called motherhood, you still have much to offer them. As they mature, they will need your famous mum-wisdom, grace, tutelage, nurturing, friendship, recipes, and unfortunately continued access to your wallet. Lastly, they will need that shoulder to cry on, which never wore out but was only fortified over time with each tear. Take the initiative to call or text them frequently. Make it a point to set date nights with them to stay abreast of the events happening in their lives.
Do whatever it takes to make yourself available; you may be shocked at how much they still need you.
Did you enjoy this excerpt? Get a copy of the book “Mum, you’re fired! Empty Nest Elevated” now!