The question from my 13-year-old son was simple enough: “Max and Alex want to go see the Captain America movie. Can I go with them?” It made me cry.
You see my husband, son and I are big superhero nerds. We go see every superhero movie together, generally the first weekend it comes out. Good or bad, DC or Marvel, if its PG-13 we’re there. Here he was breaking our tradition. He would rather go with his friends than his folks.
My friend warned me, “It has begun.”
For the past 13 years, my life has revolved around my son. I go out occasionally with my girlfriends, my husband and I sneak in a rare date night, and once we even went on a vacation sans child. But, even then, the planning always includes him: finding a baby sitter, a friend for him to hang out with, or matching our plans to the grandparent’s schedule.
Now, I have this new freedom. He has plans of his own. He can stay home by himself for several hours. He doesn’t want to watch corny TV shows with us. I don’t have to fix his food. He chooses his own clothes. He washes his own laundry. He cleans his own bathroom. He is well on his way to becoming a truly independent entity. In a few short years, he won’t even be living here.
Now, I sometimes don’t know what to do with myself.
Too many of us forty-somethings have spent the last 10 – 15 years absorbed in our children. That’s not a bad thing. We were great parents. Our kids were active: sports, music, scouts, arts, you name it. They felt loved and supported. They had security of nice home and all of their needs attended. We did our job well, but that job is coming to an end.
Now, we’re in that transition period. Our kids don’t need us so much anymore. They are on the way out the door. Don’t wait until then to start working on your life. Find (or rediscover) a hobby. Look for places you’ve always wanted to visit. Start working on your bucket list. Do the remodeling you’ve always wanted to do around the house.
Who will you be when the nest is empty?