What is one thing that helps fill the void in your empty nest life? For me, it’s friendship. Friendship is important in the empty nest life, especially as our adult children marry, begin careers and establish their own lives. Treasured friendships can help fill the void in our lives and our time when our adult children move on. They can be a source of encouragement, fellowship and just plain fun. We can share our joys and our sorrows with friends. Let’s face it, life is simply better with friends.
Friendship With Children
When our children enter the world, we are their care-givers, protectors, nourishers. At some point, in their early toddler years, we become their first friends. We play with them, take them places and spend time with them. They are our constant companions.
I remember how much I enjoyed doing girly things with my daughter. One of our favorite pastimes was going to story time at the local Barnes and Noble. We would listen to the story, make a craft then go to the attached coffee shop and get a snack. I cried the day of our last story time before she started kindergarten.
I enjoyed special times with my son too, but it was a little different. He was two when his baby sister was born so we didn’t have much one on one time. I remember the time my mother, grandmother and I took him to a Disney character breakfast right before my daughter was born. He didn’t know that his little world was about to be rocked.
As children grow, they develop their own personalities and their own friendships. While we are very much a part of their lives, the dynamics change ever so slightly. I loved being with my children when they were growing up, well, maybe not the middle school years. I loved being with my children as teens and college students. I love being with them now. But the relationship has changed over the years.
Why Friendship Is Important
That is where friendships come in. They help fill the space left in the empty nest. Here’s how:
- Encouragement – I am blessed to have amazing encouragers for friends. These are the women who come along side of me and give me a verbal pat on the back or let me know they empathize with me, because they have felt the same thing too. One of my dear friends will text me or send me a note that simply says “I adore you” and it can turn my day around. More importantly, I have friends to whom I can shoot out a quick “pray for me” and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, they will in fact pray for me. Encouraging friends are the best and it makes me want to be a better encourager myself.
- Fellowship – It is a good thing to have fellowship with friends. I think we all have a better appreciation of fellowship after the past couple of years, don’t you? Did anyone else mourn the loss of time with friends? Some of my favorite times are when I can meet a friend for coffee or lunch, chat with a friend while our dogs play or just stop by someone’s house for a quick visit while I’m out running errands. I have an invitation from one of my friends to come by on a day when she is watching her grand baby. I definitely need to schedule that. Time spent with friends can enhance your days.
- Sharing – Some of my best memories are of sharing the milestones of life with friends. We have shared everything from high school graduations to college graduations to weddings to grandchildren. We have celebrated new jobs and career opportunities. One of my favorite memories is when I celebrated my 50th birthday in Savannah with a group of my friends. But friendship is also sharing the more difficult times too, like surgeries, illnesses or concerns about our children. Good friends laugh and cry together.
- Fun – A big part of friendship is just plain having fun. Having women in my life who I can have fun with is a huge blessing. Before the pandemic, some of my friends had passes to Walt Disney World. We would go for the day — without any children, gasp. I’ve traveled with friends too, from mission trips to the Amish country to upstate New York to watch a friend’s daughter in summer theater. One of my favorite trips was to London with a fellow Anglophile and Downton Abbey fan. We went to a vintage tea party at Highclere Castle, in costume, and we only traveled with a carryon. (Click here if you want to read about it).
One other thing about friendship is the fun of traditions, certain things you do with your friends each year. Maybe it’s going to the same craft fair or celebrating your birthdays each year. One of my favorite traditions is a March Madness trip with a dear friend. Our husbands are obsessed with college basketball and we hate the squeaky shoes so we plan a trip out of town during the NCAA basketball tournament. Our first official trip was to Charleston in 2014. We have been to Asheville, Fredericksburg and San Antonio, St. Simons Island, Seaside and on a Disney cruise. We’ve only missed two years — one due to illness and sadly, in 2020 our epic trip to New York City with my daughter was canceled due to COVID.
As you read this, if the Lord is willing (I learned this from James in the Bible), my friend and I are in Waco and Dallas, Texas. Last year, we added another recently retired friend to the mix so we are a party of three now.
The Greatest Friendship
Friendship is important and it helps fill a void in the empty nest. Sometimes those friendships become so strong, it’s more like family — “framily”. But, as important and treasured as these earthly friendships are, there is a friendship that transcends all of them, friendship with Jesus.
Maybe you live somewhere isolated or maybe your life circumstances make it difficult to connect with other people. You never have to be alone. Jesus has promised us friendship with Him. But, that’s another blog post. Read the book of John in the Bible if you would like to know more.
How about you? Do you have a group of friends you share life with? Have these friendships helped fill a void in your empty nest? I’d love to hear.