It's hard to explain what it feels like.
Every parent that has been invested in their kids feels it. It's not new to me. Or earth-shattering.
It's about letting go. Some more.
It's not that I don't want to do it. It's not that I don't realize what is healthy.
It's simply that I wish I could stay downtown in my son's life. But it's time to move to the suburbs.
I am a fairly controlling, used-to-asking-questions, accustomed-to-folks-telling-me-their-innermost-thoughts kind of person. Boy, it's hard not to know some of those very things. About my own son.
It's my turn to learn another lesson.
The lesson of observation. The importance of being a supportive audience for the adventure of his life. Waiting for him to come to me if he has the need.
He is a junior in college now. Doing great. Has had his shares of ups and downs the last couple of years. Calls me occasionally to ask for guidance.
Mostly, he doesn't. Mostly, he makes his own decisions. And I find out afterward.
When I am feeling down about this, mourning the emptiness of my nest, a more hands-on parenting, I remember something.
Read this next: Marriage is Not for Sissies
I compare my life to two of my first cousins. Both absolutely wonderful people. Both of whom died far too early. Had children and a spouse that they adored. Immediately, my whole perspective changes dramatically.
They would have loved getting the chance to feel what I am feeling.
I don't know why I am still alive and they are not. Guilt doesn't help anyone. But I want to hold onto this perspective so as to not get lost. Or to forget the simple basics.
The gift of life itself.
So I will learn this lesson. I will assume the position that will be my parenting role for years to come. I will try to absorb it as best I can.
That gift is one I will give my son.
Dr. Margaret Rutherford is a clinical psychologist who has been in private practice for over 20 years in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She began blogging in 2012 after her only son left for college, coining the term "NestAche" for her empty nest experience. Not only here on Boomeon, she has been featured on the Huffington Post, Midlife Boulevard, BetterAfter50, BlogHer, Readers Digest, The Cheat Sheet and ArkansasWomenBloggers. Her new eBook, "Seven Commandments of Good Therapy", a basic guide on choosing a therapist or evaluating your current therapy, is available for free on her website. You can find her at DrMargaretRutherford.com or on Twitter @doctor_margaret.
Have a question for Dr. Margaret? Ask it here.