An Empty Nest – A New Purpose

So it is official, we have an empty nest.  Tessa, my baby, has left for college.  She is attending summer term at BYU in Provo and will then continue on to Fall term.

I had been dreading this day for a while, for years actually as we have moved closer and closer to “that day.”

That’s how I referred to it in my head  “that day.”  “That day” when all four children would no longer live at home full time.

Well, we are there.

It is hard when, after 27 years of full time service, you are retired.  Yes, I am still their mother and they will still need me but that day to day service and work of being a mother is over.    It does take a little coming to terms with and adjusting.

I have had a whole array of feelings in regards to this new phase of life.  They have ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other.  There have been tears.

But thanks to some wonderful advice from friends who have gone before me in this new adventure I think I’m doing o.k.

Several years ago I read a book called “In the Sanctuary of Outcasts” by Neil White.  It is a true story and takes place in a minimum security prison that is housed in the last  leper colony in mainland America in Louisana.  For some reason I have a fascination with books on leprosy and leper colonies and hope to one day travel to India to volunteer in a leper colony.  The book is wonderful and has lots of life lessons to learn from it.

In the book, the author has served his time and is preparing to leave the prison/leper colony. During his time in prison he worried about how you should change, what his “new” life would be like, what his purpose was.  One of the residents of the leper colony had shared a life lesson with him.  In the prison/colony there was a garden that was lined with Coke bottles.  During the 1950’s the Coca Cola distributors would send their chipped and cracked bottles to the colony and then refuse to accept the return bottles.  They were afraid that if the public learned that the bottles had touched the lips of leprosy patients they would boycott the company.

So the leper colony ended up with more drink bottles than they knew what to do with.  The patients found some new uses or rather new purposes for the bottles including using them as flower vases for beautiful arrangements, they used them as sugar dispensers in the cafeteria.  They would use them as bowling pins on the lawn and they were also turned upside down and put into the dirt to line flower beds and walks on the prison grounds.

As Ella said in the book, “CoCola bottle still a CoCola bottle,  just found ‘em a new purpose.”

So I guess that is how I am feeling about being an empty nester.  I’m still me. I am still a mom to Logan, Clark, Cali and Tessa but I now have the opportunity to find a new purpose, a new use for the time and energy I have put into raising my children for the last 27 years.

As a friend said to me, “You are just reshuffling a bit.”

Part of that reshuffling as well as  time and energy will be going into this blog.  I have some fun and exciting changes to share with you over the next few months.  I truly believe that when that little voice told me to “Start a blog” almost four years ago when I really didn’t even know what a blog was, I was being prepared to transition into this next phase of my life.

Who knows, maybe some of that time and energy will also go to working in a leper colony one day!

Comments

  1. says

    oh my! Well . . . . . been there done that, but everything comes full circle. Four years ago our baby (of three) headed off to college. She graduated in May and has moved back home for Grad School. Our oldest and his family live close by and we get to see them frequently, and spend time with our granddaughter, which is just THE BEST! Our middle lives a few hours away, and frequently on weekends, it’s a busy household here again, We love spending time with our now-adult children and they love coming home, as yours do, I’m sure! Isn’t it wonderful to see your kids grow into everything you always hoped for? Worth every glitch in the road along the way!

    So there’s more fun on the horizon for you . . . . change isn’t always easy, but if you embrace it, it’s easier.

    ENJOY!

    • says

      How lucky you are to have them all so close. Hope that happens for us!
      At least right now they are all four together in Utah so when we visit we get to see them all.

    • says

      Linda, Are you still doing your empty nester blog? Send me the link.
      Thanks for the s’more link. I have been collecting quite a few s’more recipes lately!

  2. says

    Even though I am only half way there, I am feeling the effects of empty nesting also. I too feel like my life is “reshuffling” and I’m not sure how to deal with it. I appreciate any and all of your thoughts and experiences on it.

  3. says

    I’m walking the same path. It feels so odd. Such a mixture of mournfulness and rejoicing, wistfulness and excitement!

    As far as the leper colony goes, I believe that those seeds of curiosity/passion/interest are planted in us, to direct the pursuit He would have us focus our energies, at some point. I must admit, that would make for some fascinating blog posts!

    • says

      Melinda, I so agree with you. Cali is actually the one that first peeked my interested and then I discovered several books on leper colonies and recently a friend introduced me to a woman who runs an organization that works over in India in leper colonies. Things just have a way of falling into place. So who knows – maybe I’ll find myself there soon! And what fun blog posts they will be!!!

  4. Shawnda says

    If you enjoy books on leper colonies, you should read “Moloka’i” by Alan Brennert. It is a novel about a young girl living in the leper colony on Moloka’i Hawaii. It is a fantastic read!!

  5. Patti says

    I too am in empty nester, I too have shed tears and wondered what I will do with all my time and energy…but people like us will always be busy and usually we are very productive types. I can honestly tell you that having your children visit and bringing their children will always be delightful, I can also tell you that one day you will look back and realize how much you are enjoying being empty nesters!!! It is just the transition that we fumble with.

    Thank you for your great blog and posts. I love your gift ideas, your party ideas, your packaging ideas……….it is a joy each day to follow this blog…I don’t have alot of time to read many, but yours is one of the couple I have subscribed to and look forward to.

    Warmly,
    Patti

    • says

      Patti, You are so right. I am not lacking for things to do and projects, that’s for sure!! I can’t wait for that when my children return to visit with their children. So glad you enjoy the blog

  6. Kay Coger says

    Leigh Anne, I feel you are heaven sent! I’m about to be an empty nester come August. I’m the mother of an only child and at times my heart is breaking! But then God sends hope to the exciting future he has for my son as well as my husband & me.

    Thank you for the encouragement!

    BTW, loved your beach pictures! What a happy family! You’ve done your “job” well.

  7. kelly says

    i had such anxiety leading up to this last summer that i bought a few empty nester books, there were a few things that really helped. one being that you have time for things you haven’t in the past. focus on your relationship with your husband, Christ, and your parents. this really helped me. i went home to visit my mom which she LOVED, started working at the temple and took trips with my husband! my son is home for the summer, possibly longer and sometimes i am missing my alone time:) you’ll get through it. she will still need you through this time of transition for her!

    • says

      Kelly, Thanks for your great advice – those are good things to focus on. I must admit after only being an empty nester for 12 days and then all four kids came home for a week the quiet and downtime the day after they left felt good!!

  8. LynnEl Springer says

    Enjoy!! And if you want one more thing to do – pick up quilting! That has been my love now that I am not constantly serving my children and am an empty nester also. Most of my children went to BYU also – and now most are married, but all are on their own, either married or settled! :) It’s a grand feeling to have wonderful children and now fantastic grandchildren, even if they are all in Utah or California!
    LynnEl in Illinois

  9. Laurie Bush says

    I’m not quite an empty nester yet (Ian will be a sophomore next year) but I have had to deal with the transition that my role is different now that I have married kids and grandkids. I enjoy the spontenaity that I have now that I didn’t before. I also love my kids spouses. I feel like I have 9 kids now instead of 6 and the grandkids are icing on the cake. It’s good..but take time to mourn a little and acknolwedge the grief. It’s normal…be good to yourself.

  10. Miranda says

    Good luck with this new phase of life I’m sure you’ll make it beautiful. You have such a knack for that! I’m sure if you are interested in leprosy you have read “The Gift of Pain”. If for some reason this one hasn’t made it into your hands I couldn’t bear not passing it along. I read it recently and it was so life changing!

  11. Kris Wolverton says

    Welcome to the Empty Nester Club! I’ve found my relationships with my children have deepened now that they are on their own. That is truly a blessing to be their encourager and not have to discipline any longer!!! Go for it LeighAnne and minister at a Leper colony!!!

  12. Shirley says

    After home schooling my 4 kids I REALLY felt like I’d lost my job….both as Mom as well as teacher. It’s a loss in life….so give yourself permission to mourn for a bit. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the joy I’ve found as I have stepped into the role of mother of adult children….and grandmother! There’s never anything as fulfilling as being a full-time Mom but there’s so much joy to be felt in this stage of life!!

  13. shellybelly says

    Empty Nest syndrome — I’ve had it for just over a year now as my only child married, menopause hit, etc. It has been a tough road. I’ve certainly grown closer to my Savior Jesus Christ and am thankful for the time to study and reflect. It has been hard to shift my nurturing to myself and I sure need it. I just think it all takes time to find our new direction. I really look forward to your helpful advice and support Leigh Anne — we love you for all you are! Best thing is we can go through this new stage together. Thanks for all you do.

  14. Jani says

    I loved this post as I anticipate feeling this exact way in about 12 years! My youngest (of 4) starts 1st grade this year (his first time being in school for a full day) and I’m beginning to feel the pangs of having an empty nest. As a full-time mom, I’m sure I will keep busy while he is at school, but I will sure miss my little sidekick! It’s a new chapter for me as well as I try to figure out how I should spend my time during the day before kids come home from school without little ones needing me so much. This motherhood gig is hard! Once you get it all figured out, they grow up!

  15. says

    LA

    I loved this post. I am on the opposite end of the spectrum here but was so touched by what you said. It was so well written and lovely reflection of who you are.

    Meg

    p.s. thanks for grabbing my coat! :)

  16. The Queen Vee says

    I’ve been an empty nester for 15 years now, I can’t believe it’s been that long. I’m busier than ever, I spend a lot of time traveling to visit kids and grandkids. One of the greatest rewards of parenting is seeing ones children successfully fly out of the nest and into the big world. I’ve always felt like my 4 kiddos were just on loan to me.

    Not only is a whole new world opening up for your Tessa but one is also opening up for you and your hubby. I think all of you will enjoy and make the most of the new opportunities that will come your way.

    I’ll tell you what I dislike the most about being an empty nester, cooking for two and even that has changed. I’m now cooking for two with dramatically different dietary needs. I’m hoping you will now start posting great recipes for two, see I’ve already given you a new opportunity and challenge.

  17. says

    While reading the comments I was surprised to see my sister (LynnEl) had commented! I didn’t even know she read your blog! I’m an empty nester as well, and as of next week my husband is retiring from dentistry and as his office manager, that puts me into retirement too. Neither of us know what will keep us busy in the weeks to come, but LynnEl’s love of quilting is spilling over in my direction. She is in Utah visiting for a few days, and we went to Floyd and Lizzie’s Quilt Store. I spent WAY too much money, but at least I will have something to keep me occupied after retiring.

    • says

      It’s a small world Patti. I need to check out some of the quilt stores next time I come to Utah!! I’ve got a few unfinished ones to work on in the mean time!!

  18. marti says

    Leigh Anne,
    You have so many amazing talents that you share, and apparently abundant energy! I think you would make a wonderful foster mother, or perhaps could sponsor an exchange student. In this way you could continue to mother and bless another life in the process. My sister in Utah, mother of six, has done this for many years and found it very rewarding. You have so much to offer!

    xxoo Marti
    (mother of five, grandmother to 27, and proud new great-grandmother!…the circle just widens as the years go by)

  19. Sheri says

    Awe – I’m so glad I found your blog today. My first is leaving for college in a few weeks and I’m one sad mama. I still have one at home for another 4-5 years before college – the time is flying by. Your blog is awesome and I’m happy that I happend upon it. Have a blessed week.

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