Parenting is all about changes and phases.
When our kids are helpless infants, the job is fairly simple – feed them when they are hungry, change diapers as needed and give lots of cuddles! As they grow we play with them – who doesn’t love to make a little one laugh?! – and teach them necessary survival skills: how to be kind to others, sometimes the answer has to be “no”, sometimes it’s fun to share, and so on.
With the school years, we find our schedules becoming filled with things like dance class, little league baseball, chaperoning class parties and field trips, and sleepovers. If they get involved in performing arts activities or sports during their middle school years, the schedule can get down right hectic.
High school brings dances, more sports and performing arts opportunities, possibly a part-time job, dating . . . you get the idea!
Then comes adulthood. That moment when you look around and the kids are no longer kids. They don’t need you to teach them right from wrong any more. They don’t need rides to and from little league practice. They don’t need you to remind them about their homework because, if they are off at college, you don’t even really know what homework they have!
And the much celebrated AND dreaded empty nest.
Less than 24 hours ago, I became a grandmother for the first time. I have no clue how to be a grandmother. I have a strong suspicion that my approach to “grandmothering” will be rather . . . unique (weird?!). I’m fairly confident I’ll figure it out.
Just minutes ago, my youngest moved out, starting off on his newest adventure. He received his AA degree earlier in the evening and will be moving in with his sister and brother-in-law, finding a job, and getting ready to finish his Bachelor’s Degree at UNI (the third Laupp child to do so – Go Panthers!). I’m officially at that stage of parenting known as “empty nest”.
I have no clue how to do this part. And the random thoughts running through my brain aren’t helping to boost my confidence in this area:
“They don’t need me as much anymore.”
“Oh no . . . what if they don’t need me at all?”
“How often can I call/text/private message without coming across as needy or clingy?!”
“What exactly is my role in their lives now?!’
I know, I know. This is what’s supposed to happen. You don’t have to remind me. And this isn’t the first child to leave the nest. It’s worse than that. He’s my last.
So there will be no more “kid’s” activities on my calendar. No more “Mom, can you . . . ” and no more “Hey, do you think maybe . . . ?” because they are all handling life on their own – or with a special somone – now.
Which leaves me stuck with the same question – what now?!