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A behind-the-scenes look at Terranam Wellness & self-care tips for taking better care of yourself.
BY MARIA GARRIDO - 2 MINUTE READ
Adjusting to the challenges and liberations of empty nesting.
In 2001, when my first child was born, I remember having a bit of an identity crisis. Up to that point, my life had been defined by my social circle, my hobbies, my romantic relationship and my professional ambitions. I liked working and travelling, seeing friends and family and generally enjoying my young adult life.
Having children was something I'd always wanted and I welcomed my first beautiful baby boy with open and loving arms. With all the bundle of warm emotions that came with the arrival of this precious little one, I do also, however, remember feeling a bit confused about who I was suppose to be now. Where in my identity did this new 'mother' thing fit in? How did I make room for this new role I didn't know how to play? I wasn't sure how to make enough space in my mind and hours in a day for this precious little life.
I didn't dare tell anyone I was having a bit of an identity crisis because I'd never heard anyone talk about this aspect of becoming a parent, so I chalked it up to post-partum hormones and kept the thoughts to myself for fear I would be perceived as ungrateful or not 150% thrilled to become a mum.
Today, three kids and 22 years later, I find myself at this pivotal point in my identity again.
For nearly two decades, my home has been a bustling harbor of laughter, homework, arguments, family time, late-night conversations, holiday dinners, etc. In essence, life and noise were everywhere. It has now transformed into an echo of those memories.
It didn't happen overnight, it's been a gradual, slow slipping into empty nesting. Two of my children have gone off to university and at home, the only remaining movement is myself, my youngest son and the dog. The one child left at home is in full-on adolescence so, as expected, he's got one foot out the door with his social circle. As a consequence, my time alone is abundant and frequent.
The stillness is disorienting, as if a familiar melody slowly faded away and I'm left there, still dancing in the silence. I'm uncomfortable in the emptiness, the lack of activity in the house, the lack of noise and bustle, nothing to schedule, resolve, or manage. I don't know who I'm suppose to be now and have no choice but to reinvent myself and learn to be alone.
I can feel the anxiety to keep busy creeping in. I'm spending more hours in the office than I've ever done before, almost as an avoidance mechanism against the lack of evening obligations. Yes, I know this is BAD and I need to curtail this asap!
I can feel loneliness occasionally rear its ugly head and I'm uneasy. I'm struggling to navigate how to reboot my identity and I have to remind myself that this is a natural part of the Adulting 3.0 transition, so I need to breathe and take it in. I can see that it's easy to slip into unhealthy patterns of ignoring the discomfort. But deep down inside, I know that in this hush, lies opportunity to delve into my own personal narrative and reimagine my identity, a chance to rediscover myself and find harmony within this new chapter.
Who are we when the role of 'parent' or 'caregiver' takes a back seat? If we embrace the discomfort and the choppy waves of introspection that follow, they can lead to remarkable self-awareness.
Just because our homes start to feel empty, our hearts need not follow suit. Remember those dreams you set aside, the passions that got buried under the responsibilities of parenting? It's time to unearth them.
A great example for me is something as simple as reading a good book. When I had children at home, I never found time to read anything but snackable articles. So, last Saturday, I arose to a gloriously sunny day at Terranam, I made my way to one of my favourite beaches on the nearby island with a good book and lay in the sun peacefully reading all afternoon. No one to watch over, no where to hurry off to, no one to pick up or drop off anywhere. And for the first time in 20 years, I fell asleep and took a nap! The only thing that woke me was the cool ocean water as it tickled my feet with the rising tide. Now, that was a reawakening!😉
How about spontaneity? If you're a parent or caregiver, do you remember the last time this word was actively in your vocabulary? Open yourself to the possibilities that this new phase of life offers and relinquish the reins of routine. This past spring, I bought a last minute ticket to the Lizzo concert and danced my heart out entirely on my own, no regrets! If you're not quite ready to do things by yourself, rediscover the joy of last-minute meetups with friends. Improvise. Let curiosity be your compass. Feel like going to the movies on a Tuesday night? Go for it! Embark on any postponed adventure, not knowing or caring where it leads. Be in it fully, not for the destination, but for the fun of the winding path.
SELF CARE TIP
Embrace the freedom of the post-parenting phase and welcome the unplanned and unexpected! Ask yourself, "What should I do this weekend?" And if it moves you, hop on a train or drive and see where it leads you. Show up without a reservation or explore local events without an agenda. Loosen your grip on rigid planning and see what unexpected surprises lie ahead. 💛