I talked to a neighbor recently who is expecting her first grandchild soon. She excitedly told me about how her daughter was feeling and about the anticipation of being grandparents. She gushed about her youngest, who recently graduated from college and is starting her new life. She talked about visiting her son.

She spoke about vacations she planned with friends and the fishing trip her husband just returned from and dinners with her sister. She told me about caring for a sick relative and volunteering at her church. She talked about books and movies and new restaurants.

Her life was full.

She asked about my girls and how they were faring in high school. I waited for the “it all goes so fast” or “enjoy it while you can” commentary, but she didn’t mention it.

Instead, she said something so profound: “There’s always something to look forward to when you have a family.”

Bam. Mic drop.

“There’s always something to look forward to when you have a family.”

I’m at the time in my life when it all seems to be moving so fast. My girls are almost women, and their time under my roof is limited.

Yet, I still see a future for us, and I’m doing the work today to make sure they know I want to be in their life tomorrow.

But preparing for my birds to leave the nest means I have to prepare myself as well.

So, I’ve been trying to find what fuels my fire again, beyond caring for my children.

I’m working in a job I love. I write. I cook. I volunteer with my kids. I’m spending more time alone with my husband.

I see a life—a rich, beautiful, full life—that grows in lockstep with my children, instead of centered around it.

There is always something to look forward to when you have a family. There is always something to look forward to when you have friends. There is always something to look forward to if you look at it in the right way.

My kids may no longer live underneath my roof, but the ties will not be fully cut.

There will be graduations and weddings and births. There will be vacations and celebrations and achievements. There will be times they need me to hold them up and take them in, and there will be times I need them to do the same.

There is still so much to look forward to, even though our lives will look different.

My nest may soon be empty, but I choose to believe that my life will still be full.

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a communications consultant, and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays.