Parents certainly feel a range of emotions when their children grow up and move out of the house — proud, sad, anxious, liberated. One couple felt like celebrating, so they had an "empty-nester" photoshoot — and their celebration can be a lesson to all parents that saying goodbye to your grown children doesn't mean that you have to mourn.
Of course, feel whatever you feel. Grieving your children's absence is valid. And, if you're not an empty nester yet, being anxious about the day that you become one is normal, too. But this phase of parenting doesn't have to be a feared one.
Like Facebooker Haley Marie's parents, you can choose to celebrate another stage of your life. Having kids, after all, doesn't define you; kids are just one particularly wonderful part of everything that makes you you.
"Most parents are a little sad when they hit the 'empty nest' phase of life — HOWEVER, my parents seem thrilled," Haley Marie, a photographer, wrote to caption a photo taken of her parents with a chalkboard sign that reads "Empty Nesters June 1, 2019." "Also... how cute are they??!! ??" she added.
Other photos of the couple include one with their two dogs holding a sign that reads "our favorite kids." One is a side-by-side photo with sad faces and a sign reading "so sad" on the left, and a laughing photo with a sign reading "hahaha JUST KIDDING" on the right. Another photo is with a zero balloon and a sign reading "Expecting 0 Kids June 2019," and another is an exciting shot full of confetti.
Facebookers commented on the comical photo series congratulating the couple and sharing the many ways in which they can relate to the feeling.
"Love our children dearly, but we have so much fun these days!" one user wrote.
"I love it and so relate !! Love my children... But my job is done!?" another said.
And another shared: "I'm glad I'm not the only one who is ready for this moment. To see them on their own and successful while I am home relaxing and stress-free... At least that's my plans!"
Even another acknowledged how difficult it was at first, but how they've learned to love their space: "We love being empty nesters now; first year was soooo hard. But now, we always say 'we can do whatever we want!' ? But we do live close to our kids and grandkids ❤️ It’s great!"
Of course, some other parents commented that they can't quite relate because they miss having a full house.
But the lesson to be learned: There is a range of emotions you're entitled to feel when your not-so-baby babies finally move out — and excitement for your children's futures and/or for yourself to have more time to engage in all the other parts of your life that you love are cool, too!
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.