When children grow up and leave home to build their future, it’s time to enjoy the new-found freedom.
Someone asked me how it felt to be an empty-nester. I dislike that word and its negative connotations. I told them I am having the time of my life. After years of responsibility of caring for everyone, it is now time to simply live with the man I love and married. The children are now out there building themselves with their own experiences and efforts. My job is done.
What I love more is the transformation in the money decisions of the household. I chuckle in quiet glee when they fuss about expenses. Memories of childhood tantrums at the toy shop come in, but I am gracious enough to not rub it in. Let’s get to the list, now.
First, the focus moves from saving to spending and it is absolutely joyous. After years of setting aside money for the children, and worrying about funding their education, suddenly that higher education goal is done and dusted. We both continue to work and wonder what we will spend the earnings. We have to learn to spend.
Second, the shift from things to experiences happens I guess, as one ages, but children living in far away lands reinforce it like nothing else.
The joys of the phone calls; the short breaks filled with conversations; and the spontaneous breaking into singing favourite songs, all remain experiences to cherish. It takes getting a precious two weeks a year with grown up kids to know that money should not be wasted on stuff, but preserved for precious experiences. Throwback to the times they lived with us – I shopped until I hated walking into the stores. Life was so filled with stuff then, literally.
Third, travel has taken a new meaning. In the initial years of the children leaving the house, our trips were carefully curated to visit places they would not be interested in visiting. We died of guilt thinking about taking a holiday without them. And then they began backpacking to exotic places with friends and told us they are fine. Getting four working adults to coordinate their breaks is next to impossible. We have now found our wings, and we spend on historical tours and food walks; and completely skip the amusement parks and activity centres. What joy!
Fourth, we finally spend serious money on hobbies. When the children were growing up, every serious generous spend was about their activity and their hobbies. Now there is no budget for books. Or the garden. Or music. We spend on the
hobbies, and that has added so much meaning to those pursuits and taken it to levels we enjoy.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper