My name’s Suzy and I’m a Jewish Midlife Coach with an empty nest.
I said it. It feels kind of like a confession because when people hear you’re a midlife coach or a life coach, it’s common for them to think you don’t have any midlife related hiccups, lol.
A big part of this experience for me is that I’m also a Jewish mom.
As a life coach, I know all about mindfulness and coach on it daily. But…as a Jewish mom, there’s a lot of automatic thinking that’s very much a part of my brain activity that is almost hilarious to watch myself think.
What I mean is that I catch myself thinking certain thoughts that just don’t feel optional.
They feel like the truth.
As a life coach, I know this isn’t true.
In fact, it’s one of the core mindfulness lessons that can blow your mind.
Understanding that there is more than one way to think about people, things and situations in your life can absolutely change your life and make it possible for you to create the intentional life that you want to live.
Now, before I go any further, I know the whole “Jewish mom” thing is full of stereotypes that many famous comedy sketches and sitcoms are made of.
I know too that not all Jewish moms have these thoughts.
And also that not all moms – Jewish or not – experience “empty nest” in the same way.
What I have noticed is that there are probably some cultural similarities to how you think about your empty nest, whatever your culture is.
Therefore, it’s not likely not surprising when other friends and family members in your community think similarly about empty nest and empty nest related life (of course, not everyone will think the same way, but it’s common to notice some “group think” going on).
Empty nest is an interesting midlife transition as a Jewish life coach.
The empty nest transition in midlife isn’t nearly as understood or talked about as other parts of your life as a parent.
One thing that surprised me was how much of a transition it was.
It’s not “one and done.”
It turns out that the empty nest phase is much broader than just launching a kid out the door to college. Of course there’s a lot to celebrate when there’s a launch, but there are some hidden bumps along the way. This phase of life is really about:
- preparing for your first or only kid to leave
- understanding the relationships with parents and siblings after a kid leaves
- preparing for other siblings to leave
- adjusting to life with no kids home
- adjusting to life when a older and more independent kid moves back home (sometimes more than once)
- adjusting to life again when a kid moves out once more, perhaps for good
- being intentional about developing your relationship with your young adult kid.
As I navigate the empty nest waters myself, I’m not always sure what I make being a “Jewish empty nest mom” mean in my life. Like I said, midlife is a huge time of transition in the home and even though I’m a life coach, it doesn’t mean I don’t experience the empty nest internal drama every now and again, lol.
One thing it has meant for me though, has been lots of highs and lows and intense emotions.
It also means I feel a lot of gratitude for being a Master Life Coach who specializes in midlife-related issues, just like this. This training and experience I’ve had over the past 8 years has definitely helped me with some pretty important perspective as an empty nest mom.
One more thing…for sure, it also means that the most compassionate ears are on the heads of my amazing girlfriends who totally get it (and I’m thankful for these women in my life every dang day).
Even as a life coach, sometimes empty nest emotions are surprising.
I remember a conversation with a coach colleague where my reaction really caught my me off guard.
Several years ago, I was at an out-of-town retreat and was getting some coaching about how to create a better home office space in my home. I had recently moved out of the shared office I had with my husband. Each of us needed more privacy for the work we were doing. I claimed a space in the back corner of our home.
It wasn’t the perfect space for me, but it would do.
My coach helped me explore the kind of space I was looking for and why I wanted what I wanted.
She also asked me if one of my empty kids’ bedrooms would be a good space for my new and improved office.
Although this seemed like a logical question to ask a mom in her 50s, I looked at her like she had three heads.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “I couldn’t kick a kid out of his room.”
I felt myself getting emotional. Like seriously. What a crazy thing to say!
I actually thought I was going to cry.
“But haven’t they gone away to school?” she asked.
There it was. I felt totally felt like a Jewish mom! I sensed that my interpretation of my options was different than hers, and also different from the other 20 women sitting around the large table.
I explained that even if they left for school, they would likely be back.
I made sure to share that I’ve seen this with my friends.
I went on to say that according to my observations, the kids seem to come and go for 5 – 10 years after they graduate from university.
One by one, however, the other women supported me but also shared that they would have done just that – taken over an empty bedroom. No problem, no questions asked. They said that it’s an appropriate time to take over a bedroom and use it for your own purposes, like:
A workout or yoga room;
A craft room…
That sort of thing.
While they all agreed, I wasn’t feeling it.
I was so uncomfortable.
I felt a little like a deer in the headlights. My views didn’t seem so “normal” anymore.
I was the only Jewish mom in this group of women.
But because I was a life coach myself…my training kicked in and I became a watcher of my thoughts. I could see that this bedroom takeover idea wasn’t a possibility for me to consider just yet because I was thinking this thought:
“I always want my kids to feel like this is their home.”
To me…if they didn’t have their bedrooms, it would be a problem for them when they came home and their feelings might be hurt. They might not feel comfortable in their own house. This is why I was feeling resistant.
Now my face was red and blotchy and I was clearly on the the verge of tears. Sheesh, I was way more emotional than I ever imagined over this topic.
Right away, I also had the thought, “I’m a Jewish mother. I would never kick my kid out because I wanted his bedroom.”
This thought did not feel optional at all.
I didn’t share it.
I kept it to myself and squirmed with my thoughts and my awareness that the other amazing women in the room didn’t have this view.
Do you like your reasons for thinking what you think in midlife?
It was an interesting experience for me to really see what I was thinking and feeling and to notice that I was a bit surprised by how emotional this empty nest topic was for me.
But here’s the thing.
Another important part of being mindful and creating a more intentional midlife is deciding on purpose if you like your reasons for thinking your thoughts.
In this case, I did.
I realize it’s not how everyone sees things.
I don’t judge moms who don’t share this view.
I don’t believe that you have to be a Jewish mom to think this way either.
I realized that I was a Jewish mom who did.
Stereotypes and all…I was cool with it.
I guess that’s the big lesson here.
Whatever community you connect with probably has some “group think” going on. Perhaps your community is rooted in where you live, your age, your education, your hobbies, your past experiences, your kids or even your religion.
There’s nothing wrong with this in and of itself.
The only problem might be when you’re focused on becoming more intentional about your life.
When you develop the skill of learning to think on purpose, you first have to raise your own awareness of what you’re thinking on autopilot.
Your belief systems are influenced by all kinds of people, experiences and situations over the years.
But when you’re goal is to thrive in midlife and be a more intentional grown-up who wants to develop intentional relationships with her young adult children, it’s always a good idea to make sure that you like your reasons for thinking what you think and doing what you do.
So, if you’re a Jewish mom or not, if you practice mindfulness or not, this is a skill that you can continue to get better and better at.
Stereotypes and all, I definitely see myself taking over one of my kids’ bedrooms as my office some day…but not today.