How do you define an exciting stage of life? The stage where your kids are launched and they are heading toward independence. The stage where you finally have time to make yourself front and center. The stage where you are still young enough to have energy and spirit, yet old enough to have the wisdom of years and a clarity of vision.
“Empty Nester?” I think not.
The term “Empty Nester” is passé.
“That awful term ‘Empty Nester’ just doesn’t work any more,” two separate friends in two different places in the last two weeks have complained to me (like I coined the term in the first place.) It’s depressing, and it sucks.”
“Tell me what you really think,” I thought to myself. But they are right. The term “Empty Nester” connotes bare, barren, depleted, exhausted, unfilled, vacuous, deflated, boring, done, empty. It simply does not work any more for most women.
“You’re all about Better After 50,” they went on. “Can’t you come up with a better term?- and don’t use ‘midlife’ in the term—that’s equally depressing.”
I love a challenge– and because I agree wholeheartedly with my friends, I have been wracking my brain for a better, happier, more exciting term.
I don’t feel empty now that my kids are gone–just the opposite. Kids, I love you and I love seeing you and talking to you, but this is an awesome time for me. I know I am lucky—nay, I am blessed: I have my health, energy, a husband I love and who loves me (repeat after me, honey: “more and more each day”), and a couple of kids off the payroll. I am lucky enough to have found something I love to spend my days doing, and I am even luckier that I had the resources to pivot after 50 to try my hand at something completely different.
My circumstances are, of course, unique to me, but I am not alone.
There are many happy “mid-lifers” (sorry) out there. According to NY Times columnist Madeline Levine, women are less depressed, less anxious and less suicidal in their 50s and 60s than at any other time of life. When the kids go off on their own, many of us become better, wiser, versions of the women we’ve been. According to Levine, many women find the years after the kids are gone to be the best of their lives: “They get married, get divorced, try new careers, travel, expand their horizons, tighten friendships and maintain warm, close relationships with their children (and in turn their grandchildren.”
So….“Out” with the term “Empty Nester!” But “In” with what? If we are not Empty Nesters, Eager Beavers (ew), Wise (old) Owls or Spring Chickens…..what are we? I asked my husband. “Maybe something to do with a Phoenix? That’s a cool bird with really awesome red and gold plumage.” I was excited, until I looked it up and found this definition: “a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes….” I think not, but thanks for the suggestion, honey.
Is there a term that that says that we are proud and happy to be at this stage of our lives? A term that evokes that we are excited, energized, full of possibility? One that says that we are self-reflective yet energized, full of spirit and fortitude? One that connotes that we are full of the wisdom and clarity that age necessarily brings, but we still want to learn? One that says that our lives are full, busy and yet spontaneous? Can we come up with a term that our children will be proud of?
So here’s the BA50 challenge to our readers:
What’s a better Name for an Empty Nester? Win a $100 Amazon.com gift certificate
Come up with a better descriptor for Empty Nester. Name it and describe who we are and why your descriptor should be adopted by Webster’s. (125 words or less). Post to the comment section below, or on our Facebook page by October 22, 2013. We will vote on what you like the best, and the winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift certificate.
I’ll go first:
We are “Emerging Eagles.” Eagles symbolize freedom, dignity with grace. Eagles have clear vision, and a soaring spirit. Eagles are courageous and stretch limits. They fly high and remind us to look at things from a new, higher perspective. The eagle brings the message of renewed life because it is associated with the east winds – the direction of spring, dawn and rebirth. “Emerging Eagles” remind us that we are about to take flight—that we are seekers– willing to push the limits of self discovery- that we should not accept the status quo, but reach high and become more than we ever thought possible. Besides, eagles make balding heads seem cool. And they have great looking nails.
At betterafter50.com we are re-defining middle age- now we need new terms to describe it. The challenge is on.