When your kids are young, it's such a daunting responsibility to ensure they are loved, taken care of, taught morals, manners and that they experience new things all the time. But, the time period I want to talk about is how you deal with them "flying the coop".
Our five kids (blended family, two are mine, three are Dan's) are all living elsewhere now and range in age from 22yrs to 30yrs. Over the years, it seems they've all left, yet come back again when things didn't work out so well and you always take your kids back with open arms and try to help them achieve their goals. It's such a time of anguish for them in those last growing stages of their life with the parents...wanting to be all grown up and on their own, yet, also wanting someone to take care of them for a little while longer. I'll be honest here, at times we've had to put our foots down regarding nonsense and ask a few to leave, and yet those same few we've also helped extensively to get started later in their "new nest".
The psychological aspect to the parent is the subject of this story (it just took me awhile to get to the point!) because it's a transition like no other when your birds leave the nest. If you haven't experienced it, get ready! What I discovered was it's harder to let go than I imagined it would ever be...obviously, I thought it'd be wondrous to not have to clean up after them, keep tabs on where they're going, with who and what time they came in! But, it's not that easy. Once they're gone, they have their own lives, work, friends...just like they did at home, but here's the key....they are in control of their situations...not you! Now, they only rely on you when they feel it's a necessary enough situation to require your input.
I would have to say, I believe it took me a couple of years to realize their problems weren't necessarily our problems and that we didn't have to rush to their aid everytime a problem arose, but could just give some simple advise over the phone about possible solutions to their problems. But, here's the funny part...in the beginning, you'll actually get in your car and go help them, or give them cash (if the situation required it) or solve the problem for them by making the phonecalls required and writing the letters needed! Always indignant about how society is treating your child in any particular circumstance.
Then, suddenly (and it really does seem to happen overnight), you step back. You listen to their dilemmas, but are hesitant to give so much advise that they think you're going to take care of it. You give pointers on what they can do to remedy the problems and later that week when you're talking to them, you casually ask how it all worked out? It's a control issue for the parent. When the control of your "birds" is gone, you've relinquished it to them, so you must let it go in your head as well and realize you've taught them and they can figure things out just fine!
I've said this before about other people...."It's their stuff". Taking on all the stressors involved with other people's stuff is a huge task. I don't mean you should never help others, but alot of times, from all those years of taking care of your own family, you become controlling to a certain degree and you must stop and just control your own life and let others control theirs....especially your children's.
Recently, we've discovered that Dan's going to be a Grampy and myself a (step)Gramma because his oldest, Robynn (coinciding with the nest topic! hahahaha!) is going to be a Mommy and we can't wait to have a wee one in the house (it's been soooo long) that we can spoil, not discipline (much) and just give smushy (there's that word again...) hugs and kisses to! So, it's good that we've already stepped back from our control mode of parenting.
We are "Empty Nesters" and proud of it!