I hope India-West readers have enjoyed reading my last two blogs on moms dealing with children leaving the nest as adults. In the last blog I focused on how to change our mental habits so that we are not stuck in the “mother for life” thinking that then results in perpetual worrying. In this blog, I will focus on the ‘actions’ to take to better cope with our children’s departure so that we can fully enjoy the next phase of our life. This involves rediscovering our desires and recreating our identities.
For so many years, the role of mother dominated every other role in our lives. Our activities were centered on them and we deprioritized our own wishes and needs. Our happiness was so tied to our children’s that we may have forgotten what pleases us without them in the equation.
So now that our children are grown up and gone from home, how do we revive our non-mom identities? How do we remember what we really like to do? And how do we discern the purpose and meaning to the rest of our lives?
From my experiences as a mom and as a coach, there are three steps to achieving these.
- Imagine our new life: Now that we have more time, let’s start by reflecting on our current likes and dislikes; let’s figure out what excites us now. For instance, as young adults, we might have had a hobby of creating handicrafts or writing poems. Does that still appeal? Or now that we have been using social media, would we like to reconnect with old friends? We may have passionately wanted to save abused animals. Can we now offer foster care for our favorite pets? How about embarking on our own business? The world around us has changed exponentially and offers many new possibilities and opportunities. So let us explore what we like now,what we can make of our lives now. Let’s ponder over and decide on what we would enjoy doing for the next 5 years or so.
- Bring the new ‘us’ to life: Once we have envisioned the next chapter of our lives, we have to start making things happen. Let’s create an action plan and put things in motion. Today, information on anything is available on the Internet. There are plenty of books on any subject and organizations to guide us. When I aspired to become a life coach, after 25 years of an IT career, I could easily research on avenues to get qualified as a coach. What also helps is to share our ideas with people who are supportive and who might offer helpful suggestions. Whether it is going on a cruise, volunteering, having a part-time job, or any other pursuit we have decided on, it is quite easy to find what we need to fulfill it and then move towards realizing it. Otherwise, the picture of our new lives stays a dream.
- Overcome mental blocks: The third step is not really a step but what we need to be aware of, even while going through the other two. Many times it’s our own mental ‘hang-ups’ that are the roadblock to our new lives. We mull over the past and waste time thinking about things we should have done and did not. I have heard so many clients say things like, “I should have held on to my job. Now who will employ me after a gap of 15 years?” Having such regrets is totally unnecessary. We have excelled in our important roles as mothers in the past. We now have our life ahead of us and can go after anything we now want to do. The key is to embark as we are now and not belittle ourselves. Sometimes the fear of failure may make us diffident. What can help overcome this is adopting an exploratory outlook; we can try anything we want to and if we find that we don’t like the activity or experience, we can try another. Nothing is cast in stone and there is no failure. And there will be interruptions; other things and people, including our children, will take up higher priority now and then. But we don’t have to lose sight of our vision; we just have to bounce back to it after the pause. So let us take heart and venture out to sample our desired activities, connections and experiences.
I hope you are able to take these steps and start the new chapter of your life. I wish you joy and success in this part of your journey.
(Janaki Chakravarthy is a certified life coach and author of the ebook “From Broke to Breadwinner – A Single Mom’s Guide to Financial Independence and More.” She lives in southern California and helps single moms recreate their lives as breadwinners and beyond, through her practice Possibilities N U LLC. For a free copy of her book, email her: Janaki@frombtobbook.com.)