I am thrilled to introduce you to my precious friend Gale! Gale and I have been close friends for over 20 years, and what I value most about her is her faithfulness. She is the first single mom I have profiled for Empty Nest Blessed, and I am so grateful for her willingness to open up and share her heart. You will love her vulnerability and honesty as she discusses the unique challenges that come with being a single mom in the empty nest years.
(Suzy) Tell us a little about your family.
(Gale) I am a single mother with two grown children and two grandchildren.
Tell us a little about your job.
I have worked in children’s ministry for 22 years at a church in Dallas
How long ago did your nest empty?
I began my empty nest experience when my children were traveling out of state to be with their dad on holidays and for six weeks of the summer. It was hard because they were so young.
What was your transition to the empty nest like and how do you think the fact that you were a single mom affected your transition?
I think it helped my transition to fully having my nest empty because I had to adjust to out-of-state visitations with their dad over their early years. I had to learn to be by myself and like it. I am a people person, so it was especially hard. I would try to plan things ahead to try to have something to look forward to while they were gone. Being a single mom puts an extra emotional responsibility on you with your kids because you feel extra protective of them. Both of mine have summer birthdays, so I always missed those. That was challenging.
How did the fact that you were a working mom affect your transition? There was good and bad with it. On one hand, it gave me something to do, and I was with people I loved. On the other hand, it tied me down so that I couldn’t travel as much.
Did you have a “plan” or “goals” for this stage of life?
After college, your children are working, and they don’t have spring breaks and long holidays. My two children are grown. There are adjustments when your children marry because there is a new person in your family and they share holidays with their in-laws. I was blessed with a wonderful son-in-law and great in-laws, so I am fortunate!
How long did it take you to get used to the empty nest?
It was a process.
What have you enjoyed about having an empty nest?
I laugh more and know better how to enjoy being by myself.
What has been challenging?
Financially it is challenging with my kids living in two different cities. I would love to see my kids and grandchildren more, but they are not in my hometown. They have settled in 2 different states.
What has surprised you?
How fun it is to have grandchildren!
What is it like when your kids come home for holidays? How are things different? How has your relationship with them changed?
As I said above, I am in my second empty nest phase. With each phase, your relationship changes as they become more independent, and you have to practice letting go. When they are single and out of college, they are still under your wing emotionally to some extent. When they marry and have their own family, it changes again.
Do you have any advice for other empty nesters or nearly empty nesters? Yes, don’t resist changing yourself and letting them go. Learn to enjoy being without them and developing your life as you go.
(Suzy) Many thanks to Gale for opening her heart and sharing the challenges, struggles, and joys of her empty nest experience. Isn’t she wonderful?