Being on the north-end of fifty, I have had a front-row seat to witness friends embraced the new phase in their lives that doesn’t include cheering on their kids from the soccer bleachers. These couples have fulfilled their parental duties of keeping their children alive while growing up, and through the dreaded teen years. More than once I have muttered the words, “God turns our teenage children into jerks so that we’re glad when they finally leave the nest.” (Disclaimer: I usually replace jerk with another word).
TV commercials feature mature men gulping enhancement pills on their way out for a nighton-the-town with their significant other, and couples biking down mountainsides as their adult children wonder why their parents aren’t home waiting for their phone call. It’s heralded as a time of rebirth for parents who spent more than one sleepless night holding their children as they crouched in front of the toilet during flu season.
But, what if the Empty Nest phase for adults who have raised their children doesn’t reflect the happy images we see on TV commercials?
While these commercials want us to believe that all mature couples are walking down the beach with their Golden Retriever, I have also seen friends go down a very different path after seeing their children off to college or their new apartment. As they look wistfully at the empty bedroom, they then look at their significant-other and realize that they spent the last eighteen years with their eyes off the ball. While children are supposed to leave the nest, what happens when the marriage takes a backseat to child-rearing?
Empty Nesters — the term, itself, reflects a negative connotation. Not always, but generally, relationships start out with a couple learning to trust and lean on each other before adding children to the mix, and the dynamics obviously change, but sacrificing for our children cannot come at the cost of putting our relationships and our well-being on the backburner.
Post Nesters — while this is just a new spin on an old expression, I like this positive definition of what should be an exciting time for people who are just getting started in life. Let’s celebrate this new chapter by tackling that new hobby, job, or passion that we claimed we didn’t have time for while we were packing diaper bags and lunchboxes.
ARE YOU GAME? HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT…
- Downsizing – do you still need that four-bedroom house with three baths? The children coming back home to visit will survive if you downsize to that cute ranch home with 1½ baths. Your bank account will also thank you.
- Renting skis – Or perhaps you’ve thought about trying out snow-shoeing, golf or bowling. I hear pickleball is a thing. Why not give it a try?
- Buying a ukulele – We’ve all been there… “I wish I had taken guitar or piano lessons as a kid.” What’s your excuse now?
The point is, now is the time to do what, perhaps you didn’t have time for when you were checking homework assignments. Here’s a thought… Let’s celebrate Post Nesting.
Heidi McCrary is a writer and co-owner of Ad Shop, etc. – a boutique advertising agency offering full-service and alá carte marketing services to local businesses. Contact Heidi at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook at adshopetc.