EMPTY NEST DEPRESSION
This topic has come up a lot lately in all areas of my life so I am taking that as a sign that I need to write about it.
Most of us gals spend the first half of our adult lives raising children and otherwise taking care of our families. Our purpose is defined in being a mother and/or a wife. Friendships and social activities are built around our children.
What happens when our children leave our nest?
Around the time my oldest was leaving for college I went through a divorce. My husband and I shared 50/50 custody of the two younger girls so every other week I was in my 4-bedroom home all alone. I learned very quickly that I needed to find interests outside my children to fill my time. I joined a gym–heck, I loved Zumba so much that I decided to become a certified instructor. I was 42 when I received my certification and started teaching Zumba on the side.
Also, I was at a weird point with my friendships. I had my children at a younger age than the majority of my friends, so while my daughters were in high school, graduating and moving off to college, most of my friends’ children were just entering elementary school.
My social circle was moving in different directions and some of my friendships were not as convenient for either side. I am still friends with a few of these people, but life is different and the lack of socializing was becoming a void I needed to fill in my life.
So, what happens to us when the friendships that were built around our children start to fizzle out because of life? If you’re lucky, some of those bonds are strong and will last a lifetime. However, the reality is that people move away and grow a part when you are not seeing each other on a regular basis. It just happens.
For the women who literally wrapped their lives around their families, most become completely lost and depressed when the children move off to college and there isn’t anyone at home to take are of. They become lonely, sad and depressed.
Empty Nest Depression — Ladies, this makes me so sad!
I’ll admit that I never got depressed or really felt lonely when my daughters started vacating the home. Instead, I was patting myself on the back for raising daughters who wanted to fly the coop.
I am very much a social introvert. Meaning, I love to socialize, but I am very shy and quiet until I get to know you. Because I love socializing with people, I knew I needed to make new friends that are in the same stage of life as me. I was very intimidated at first, but I just dove in.
I joined empty nest groups on Facebook. I got involved in regular neighborhood activities. I hosted weekly Bachelorette viewing parties in my home and invited every lady that was a member of my neighborhood’s Facebook and Nextdoor groups, and otherwise just started networking. It’s been great and I’ve made friends and met a lot of great women along this new journey.
I highly recommend this approach.
Hear the love in my voice when I ask you to stop dwelling on the fact that you don’t have children at home that need you 24/7. Instead, revel in the fact that you now have some ME TIME! That is a good thing! Now is the time for you to find hobbies and interests that please YOU! Go read my prior blog posts on self-care. It’s time to care for you!
Put yourself out there and make new friends. You cannot use the excuse that you are shy, because I did it and I AM SHY! If I can do it, so can you!
You really need to trust me on this. Making new friends and doing things for yourself isn’t as hard as it seems. I’ve met some pretty amazing women on Facebook just by doing a search for groups that interest me and then joining them.
Be bold. Do the scary things for yourself. Your kids are fine. I always tell everyone that if my children are calling me all of the time, then they are not doing well. They shouldn’t need to call mom every single day. If I don’t hear from them, then I know they are doing their own thing and are good.
I say that because it pains me to hear a woman say she is so depressed because her child doesn’t called her every day. Stop being sad, and start doing for you. YOU EARNED IT!
There are women out there ready to be your friend so go find them! I am one of them.
Live healthy, my friends, and remember that age is just a number.