Getting ready for and adjusting to the empty nest is a process that should be started long before the youngest child leaves home. Parents, busy with the needs of their teens, often put off thinking about what comes next in their lives while focusing intently on what comes next in their children's lives. Though parents all know that, sooner or later, their children will leave home - whether for college or for a job, whether far away or around the corner - many find the idea so painful and heartbreaking that they simply ignore this fact until the day it happens.
Melissa T. Shultz, in her book From Mom to Me Again, shares her experience as she moved from being the mother of two boys to an empty nester. Writing for the Huffington Post for a year, Melissa documented her thoughts, experiences and revelations which are both deeply personal and universal in her column, The Pre-Empt Chronicles. While the reader is learning about Shultz and what she discovered about herself, we are also given suggestions, lists and helpful tips.
With a large variety of resources, from books to blogs, Shultz offers many options for discovering more about the empty nest than just her own (wise and informative) voice. We hear from mothers who have found great joy in the empty nest and mothers who are struggling, famous people and ordinary people alike.
From Mom to Me Again touches on just about anything having to do with the empty nest. Taking care of yourself - your health, your mind, your spirit - are important.
Looking closely at your personal relationships, from your marriage to your friendships is another topic that Shultz talks about. Figuring out what to do with the rest of your life - whatever you've been doing up until your empty nest - is another big topic.
Perhaps most poignant and also most difficult for Shultz is the transition from "mother to mentor," as she describes it.
Moving from a caregiver who makes sandwiches and does laundry to an advisor and listener as her children grow from high school to college comes with all kinds of changes and rearrangements. Not just the emotional shifts, but the practical ones give Shultz pause:
"Kids don't come with instructions, yet we figure out pretty quickly how to nurture, teach, and protect them. I just didn't expect that we had only seventeen years and 364 days to accomplish everything we set out to do before the start of a whole new ball game." - Melissa T. Shultz, From Mom to Me Again
Shultz takes an honest look at her relationships with her parents and how those relationships have impacted her, especially her father, with whom she had some struggles. Learning from her father's missteps and using those lessons to become a better parent herself is a particularly moving part of this book.
One of the best things about From Mom to Me Again is how many different people Shultz interviewed. Empty nesting is a popular topic among midlife writers, especially bloggers, and each person has something unique and helpful to add, whether a sentence or a story. Shultz takes us on her journey From Mom to Me Again, but also reinforces, by letting others words be heard, that the empty nest is not just a syndrome or a problem - it's a stage of life that offers so many opportunities for growth, education, enrichment, and fulfillment.
Empty nesting comes with so many changes. As our children grow up and leave us, our focus shifts and our identities are redefined in big and small ways. It can be the most difficult time of life without support and friendship. Melissa T. Shultz offers both in this gentle and helpful book with her sincerity and openness, much like a friend you meet for coffee to commiserate about life going by, time passing, finding your truth and appreciating what you have, what you've done and what comes next.
From Mom to Me Again is available on Amazon.com and in bookstores.