It is here. Time to say goodbye to my baby. I thought I would be super strong and not get too emotional. The day we drive away and leave her at college may be a different scene. I predict right now I will be a blubbering mess.

I do sway back and forth on the emotional scale. One minute happy as can be for her future, the next minute, not ready to let her go. Gaining independence, living outside of the comforts of home without mom and dad is always a good and healthy thing. The alternative is living in the darkness of our basement and playing video games all day. To that we say…”Oh Hell no!”

To all moms and dads going through the empty nest time, this is your time parents. Play golf, kayak, go to wineries. Find out what hobbies and concerts are in your area. You will be amazed at how wonderful the life outside of the “kid” world can be.

I see a future for both my kids with new friendships, possibly a life partner for each. I pray for their future spouses and ask God to bring them a kind, Christian and loving person into their lives. I pray that we move from the parent zone, to the life-long friendship zone with our children with ease.

The thing is, for us, our whole lives have been centered on our kids. Making sure they have what they need, supporting all of their activities, trying to sleep with one eye open until you hear the garage door open. We do, as parents, dedicate our whole lives and sometimes our own interests fall by the wayside. We don’t even know what our own interests are sometimes. That is sad.

I also feel the sense of accomplishment. I am grateful for my kid’s sense of independence. It only means we have done something right when they are ready to move four hours away at the age of 18. I took that leap, my husband took that leap and we lived to tell about it. We expected it, planned and were prepared. While less laundry, cleaner kitchens, clean bathrooms and neat beds are a thing to look forward too, I dread the quiet and loneliness.

Now here comes the “Free at Last” speech. I need time to myself and time to gather myself. I work hard and sometimes you just need time to breathe and keep yourself sane between demands of work and demands of volunteering.

While I may be backing up the U-Haul truck in record time, and singing a line or two of George Michaels’s “Freedom,” my little ole’ heart sinks. Happy, sad, happy. Good God lady, get it together. 

I passed by cute pencil boxes and colorful bright markers yesterday at Target and walked right to the microwaves and mini fridges. I got caught up in the isles in between, wanting to skip, then bawl. Jeesh, what a ride, what a roller coaster.

The good thing is, both my kids are ready and confident and full of life. Dorm living and new career paths ahead. All positive and all meant to be. For me, shopping for a new kayak is around the corner. That makes me happy! Insert “Freedom” song here.

Renae Zimmer

My name is Renae Riddle Zimmer. I was born in Iowa and raised in Nebraska. I am a Midwest girl. I married my high school sweetheart, Dave Zimmer and raised two awesome kids. Nolan, 21 and Kamryn, 17. As we approach our empty nest years—we reflect a lot on our life—our kids—and being a part of the “sandwich” generation as well. Taking care of teenagers and aging parents. All the joys and difficulties that are ahead. We are solid in our faith—solid in our family and we love each other, support each other. I work a corporate job and travel. My husband is an educator and coach. We love to cook, garden, landscape, watch sports and enjoy our kids activities. We follow up college-age son as he runs cross country and track for Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo. And support our daughter as she is in the last year of high school . Where did the time go?