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Empty Nesting…..Goals vs. Expectations?

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

Hi there, my name is Miryan. I am a mom of two amazing young men, the wife of my college sweetheart, a die-hard for period dramas, a lover of card-making, a new pickleball player, and though some days I can’t believe it - a new empty-nester. I had a “traditional” profession before the kids, but motherhood has been my longest profession and, yes - the most enjoyable!

If you are new here, I can tell you that I enjoy simple, pretty things. Who doesn’t in a household of men? I love minimalistic and beautiful items. White furniture, green plants, and soft cushions catch my eye. I also gravitate towards functional items, and I LOVE to organize, plan and keep things pretty streamlined, probably because my former life was filled with timelines, spreadsheets, and presentations. Heart Design Studios is a mix of both pretty and functional, and I hope to reflect that in my products.

But as a new empty nester, I have found myself over the last few months searching for a way to embrace this new phase of life. It’s not a simple, pretty thing - nor is it very streamlined! Being a mom is a journey filled with emotions and joy, but it also comes with expectations for the future.

Expectations of the future were now seeping into

my empty-nest world. Oh boy!

In this first blog post, I want to share what I have learned thus far in finding joy as an empty nester and embracing this new stage of life. I trust you will be encouraged even if you are not an empty nester. I am pleasantly surprised by how what I am learning can apply to any stage of life. So here goes!

That first weekend was tough. It was soooooo quiet.

Gone was that familiar extra noise in the kitchen - when my son was looking for a snack after football practice. Gone was his sharing of his day about school, his teachers, and life in general. But after my tears dried and I slightly re-decorated my son’s room, I began to realize, as my first year of empty-nesting began to unfold, that organizing, planning, and keeping things streamlined would be a challenge.

I didn’t know what to expect during this first year:

  • Was I going to feel sad or happy?

  • Would I feel lonely or rejoice at having more time for myself?

  • What new hobbies or ministries could or should I get involved in?

  • What would happen to my friends who still had kids at home?

  • Could I make new friends?

It is often said that the first year of empty nesting is about letting go. Often those that have that sentiment are referring to letting go of their kids. But I have found that as an empty-nester, it is less about letting go of my kids and more about letting go of expectations.

  • Expectations of what my new home life would be like.

  • Expectations of what my adult children should or should not be doing.

  • Expectations of how I would spend my time now that the kids are out of the house.

  • Expectations of my friends that still have kids at home.

  • Expectations of new friends.

I am discovering that letting go of expectations affords three better perspectives.

#1 Appreciate Moments in Time

Learning to let go of expectations has allowed me to appreciate moments for what they are - moments in time, nothing more, nothing less. Moments are allowed to be what they are - funny, messy, maybe even, dare I say, unplanned! Recently I went on a weeklong trip with my oldest son. It was just him and I. When he first suggested it a few months back, I nearly fell out of my chair. How many 23 yr old guys enjoy spending time with their moms?

"I was content with the simplicity and uniqueness of the experience since I had no expectations."

But since I had never been on such a trip, I had minimal, if any, expectations. So once we reached our destination, we spent the week hiking, thrift shopping, exploring new places to eat, and even going wine tasting. It’s funny what you can now do when your kids are 21! I was happy just to be with my son. Happy to hear his stories about work, life as Gen Z-er, random thoughts about life, his favorite country music artist, and on and on. I was content with the simplicity and uniqueness of the experience since I had no expectations.

#2. Allow God to take over the reins

As a parent, my spouse and I were deliberate in our efforts to steer our sons toward a life centered on Christ. However, now that they have embarked on their own paths, I feel a sense of relief in surrendering control to God. Although it can be daunting, it is also empowering to recognize that God's love for them is boundless and far surpasses my own. My love is flawed and tainted by self-interest, while His love is perfect and unconditional. I take solace in knowing that God's wisdom transcends my limited ( and ,at times, flawed ) understanding and that He knows what is ultimately best for my sons. Ultimately, it is reassuring to acknowledge that God holds the power to orchestrate their lives in ways that far exceed my capabilities.

My sons were created by God with unique gifts and talents for His specific plans and purposes, which I do not fully understand. Although I was fortunate to play a role in raising and guiding them, they were ultimately on loan to me for a limited time and always belonged to the Lord. While I deeply care for them and want what is best, they ultimately belong to God.

Now is the time for me to step aside and be thankful the

Lord can work directly in their lives.

Of course, I am still “mom,” and I will always be there with that home-cooked meal and ready to help decorate their new place. However, my role has evolved as I acknowledge the Lord's work in their lives and offer my support and encouragement as they navigate their journey.

#3. Adapt to be more purposeful and intentional.

As I learned on a recent trip with my son, having no expectations allowed me to be more focused and deliberate in my actions. Instead of carrying the weight of expectations, I could set clear goals and objectives for myself.

Rather than having expectations for our time together, I approached the week with specific goals in mind. These goals guided my behavior, reactions, and our overall experience. My primary objective was to listen attentively without trying to control or parent others. Secondly, I aimed to prioritize enjoyment over obsessing about schedules or plans. Though expectations and goals may seem similar, they are distinct in their purpose and approach.

Have you ever felt let down when your favorite TV show kills off the main character or when your dinner doesn't turn out as planned despite following the recipe really closely? We are disappointed in something or, as is more often the case - someone - when our expectations have not been met. Expectations carry a heavier weight - often not for ourselves - but for others. We end up placing expectations on relationships they were never meant to bare. We forget that our ultimate joy and satisfaction comes from our relationship with the Lord - not from everyone meeting our needs. Goals seem more purposeful and intentional. They are more of an attempt at something- than an expectation of something.

Expectations can very easily develop an inward focus.

Goals can have more of an outward focus.

Sometimes I get caught up thinking about what I expect to happen or how people will respond. But I've learned that when I let go of those expectations, I can put my energy towards using my unique talents, past experiences, and opportunities to love others well. Expectations can make me think only about myself, like when prioritizing my happiness or comfort. Instead, I set goals that encourage me to think more about how I can serve and support others. This means considering their needs, worries, and challenges and looking for ways to come alongside them with encouragement.

As I navigate through life as an empty nester, I am discovering the importance of relinquishing expectations and concentrating on setting goals that will encourage my relationships. This way, I can cherish every moment and appreciate my children for who they are, acknowledging the progress that God is making in their lives.

I still have lots of work to do, but as they say, one day at a time. Today is the last day of June and, therefore, the 2nd quarter. For the past few years, I have tried to set goals for various areas of my life and assess each quarter on how I'm doing and where I need some or a lot of tweaking. But this year should be interesting. We shall see!!

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