It’s August, so my college students are leaving again. My nest is emptying. A summer of buying groceries four times a week is over. The multiple-timed breakfasts and dinners will cease. My kitchen/restaurant has closed until fall break, when I will glow again with renewed belief that nurturing children is the greatest profession of all time.
It would be easy to give advice to college students right now. Change your sheets, be yourself, eat vegetables, call home, use Febreeze. But they aren’t reading blogs by middle-aged women, especially not women who sound like their mothers.
So this one is for you moms–here’s some advice to get you over the bitter taste of heartache and on to other callings, however less important in the grand scope of life. At the very least, this empty-nesting advice may keep your children answering your texts. (Some of the time.)
How to cope when your nest starts emptying (NOTE: These are not all therapist-approved or endorsed, just so you know. I’m being practical here.)–
1. Go on a vacation. Someplace warm.
3. Start a new job or hobby.
4. Buy spirit wear from their schools.
(And now for the advice that doesn’t require money:)
5. Schedule phone calls and Skype calls. Unless your kids are self-supported, you reserve the right to hear from them regularly. Actually, you raised them. You deserve to hear from them for the rest of your life. WARNING: They will ask for money or things to be mailed to them.
6. Set up a prayer schedule. Put all your worries and obsessions on a calendar and pray over each of them methodically and fervently. Then you won’t have to worry anymore because you have a designated obsession-and-release time. And the concern is on paper, which legitimizes the time spent thinking about it.
7. Write a memory journal. This can be achieved by reviewing family videos and family photograph albums. WARNING: Reminiscing will worsen your longing for them, so you will have to turn the memory activity into something proactive to avoid depression, like a prayer or thankfulness journal. (If you can’t handle this, don’t take the DVD out of its case or open the photo album cover. Just walk away.)
8. Write letters, emails, or texts to encourage your student or share memories that you have of him/her. College kids like to be reminded that you love them and you are thinking about them. They don’t want to know that you’re obsessive and despondent, however, because that adds more stress to their over-stimulated lives. Students also love care packages, but this requires more money and a follow-up text. And possible depression over a simple “yes” response (if you have boys, anyway).
9. When you can handle it (i.e. you’ve moved on toward healthy activity), plan a visit to see them. This, of course, requires even more money.
10. Pray for your student. Wait, I already said this! (I guess it’s just that important!) Pray with other moms who have college students; share your concerns about your student(s) with them. And don’t forget to praise God for your kids and what He’s doing in their lives, even if you’re not sure what it is yet.
Bravo, Mom! You are surviving the difficult nest-emptying stage. My hat is off to you, as you do whatever it is you do when your kids leave home! Please share your secrets with us so we all can benefit from your wisdom. I can only redecorate so many times. And I have a package to mail to my son. (I’m not kidding.)