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Fly Baby Fly

Nov 5, 2019 | Parenting

My kids are 11 and 13 and somehow I already feel like I have empty nest syndrome. My daughter will be 14 in three months; ‘officially’ a teenager (in my eyes, 13 is still a tween). Next year she’ll be starting high school and my son will be entering sixth grade at the middle school. This is the last year we’ll be at the elementary school our kids attended for nearly nine years. It’s bittersweet. On one hand, my PTA and room parent obligations will be drastically reduced, but on the other, now both of my kiddos will have kinda flown the nest.

I was going through my kids’ artwork from nine years of elementary school, weeding out the “do we REALLY need to save this one?”, and it hit me like a ton of bricks–this is it. No new art will be added to this folder after next year. Is it really over already? Then Halloween arrived; we attended the school’s festivities and my husband mentioned that this is the last time we’ll do this. Next year both kids will be off with their friends, trick-or-treating—without one of us! This last year is making us realize how elementary school allowed my husband and I to stay more connected with our young kiddos, whether it was class parties, holiday events, fundraisers, book fairs, etc. And even though our daughter has been out of elementary for the past three years, the fact that BOTH of our kids will have moved on next year feels like we’ve reached a milestone— and we have.

It’s a milestone of lost youth, gained independence and autonomy. Both of our kids have flown the nest as far as needing us as much. They both enjoy being alone more, or with friends, versus hanging out with us. We do fewer projects or reading together. Our expected way of everyday life as parents has shifted. And that’s OK. I know our job as parents is to push our kids out of the nest and teach them to fly. I think middle and high school are a primer for empty nest syndrome. They’re not completely gone, yet but they’ve got one foot out the door. They’re getting better at taking care of themselves, being more responsible and dealing with puberty. The best we can do for them at this point is to ease up a little and give them space to discover who they are and how they fit in this world.

As a couple with many interests and hobbies, my husband and I have always joked that we won’t have empty nest syndrome—we’ll be too busy to notice they’re gone. Plus, we want our kids to move out and become fully functioning adults. This should be celebrated, not feared. Now that I’m actually experiencing it in the primer stage, I do feel a little sad about having less time with them or missing them when they’re not home as much. But what’s most important to me is trusting that my husband and I did our best to instill good morals and a positive outlook in them, so they’ll make good decisions. I hope they feel solid in their own shoes. Perhaps when they actually do move out, I may feel differently, but until then I want to be OK with them spreading their wings and learning to fly—maybe even giving them a little push. Because the more we’re OK with them flying, the less fear or sadness we’ll have, and the higher and farther they will go. Fly baby fly!

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