Though there are times when I miss having little children, being the mom of adults has its perks. This Mother's Day I thought I'd share the great things about having children who are all grown up.
- You no longer have to drive them anywhere. They should, by now, have their own transportation.
- Your wallet is no longer their ATM.
- You can give them money if you want to and it feels good when you do.
- If you're lucky, their appreciation for you has finally reached the point where you are satisfied they know how much you've done for them.
- They realize that you are more than just their parents, that you have lives of your own
- You get to experience, however vicariously, the beginning of "real life" all over again. Which sometimes makes you green with envy, but more often, makes you grateful to be past all of that.
- You get better gifts for your birthday.
- You can simply write a check when it's their birthday and they're very happy.
- They ask "How are you?" and sincerely care about the answer.
- They have parts of their lives that you know nothing about, and that's just fine.
- You no longer have to plan every get-together -- they know places to go and things to do.
- Worrying about them, if they're employed and healthy, is minimal.
- You don't have to watch your language. They can take it.
- You no longer feel the responsibility of setting an example or making the right choice for the sake of your kids. Just as they are independent of you, you are independent of them in a way you never could be when they were growing up.
- Sometimes they make you coffee.
- Sometimes they make you dinner.
- When they have a problem, they ask for advice. Then they listen to it.
- When you have a problem, they give advice. Often it's helpful.
- You get to see them interact in the world as adults. If you've done your job well, you'll be pretty impressed with them -- and a little proud of yourself, too.
- They want to come home and visit.
- They want to leave when the visit is over.
- It's OK once again, like it was when they were small, for them to show you how much they love you.
- Someday, if you're lucky, you'll have grandchildren.
- But hopefully first a wedding.
- They're your family.
Read more from Sharon Greenthal on her blog, Empty House Full Mind
Mellor cautions against actually purchasing a condo nearby after move-in day...but heading back to class yourself isn't a bad idea. Mellor's own mother completed her degree as a fifty-something, but you could start a little smaller than that -- say, listening to TED talks from home.
You're free and the sky's the limit! Above all, Mellor advises, do not fester in "sadness, loneliness and abandonment."
Especially if you've never gone before.
"And that man, sitting across from you at the breakfast table...he looks...familiar," Mellor writes. "You know him, you just don't know how." Use your empty nest time to remember what your relationship with your spouse or partner was like before the kids came along.
Mellor even provides a handy recipe for your next party. (That's cocktail party, which means no clowns and balloon animals. Remember those?)
"Our bodies, apparently, will not exercise themselves while we sleep," Mellor observes. Since you must exercise at a certain point, "you might as well find some fun ways to do it." Like dancing!
A favorite strategy of Anna Dello Russo, editor of Vogue Japan, for getting in touch with "the spirit of your outfit," empty nesters can benefit from this tip as well. The empty-nest years are a time to start paying attention to your appearance again, says Mellor, especially if you've gotten into bad habits (mom jeans, anyone?).
"Learn to be a sloth, and without guilt," Mellon writes. "Wallow in languid inactivity." You've earned it.
After all those years of coaching your kids through music lessons, you've probably picked up a few things, observes Mellor -- why not indulge yourself with a few lessons?
Redecorate that extra room! Make it a yoga studio, or a new TV room. Explore what your space can be like when you're decorating with your needs -- and not Dick or Jane's -- in mind.
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