picture of my shih tzu, max

How My Dog Has Helped Me Transition Through the Empty Nest Period

My dog, Max, a Shih Tzu, has been an amazing help with the transition from being a stay-at-home mom to an empty nester.

I got Max when he was 2 years old. Our previous dog, Coach, a golden retriever and seeing eye dog for my husband, had been the perfect dog for a growing family with young boys. He was calm, friendly, and great with kids. But this time, I was looking for a small dog who could be a “lap dog.” I knew that was the type of dog I needed to get through this time of my life.

So, I searched and researched about dogs for a few months until I finally decided on a Shih Tzu, and I finally found the perfect one, Max.

When my boys started growing up and became teenagers, got jobs, hung out more with friends, had girlfriends, and became more involved with school and church activities, I realized that my time with them was only going to get more and more limited. I will admit that I went through a mourning period of a couple of years as they grew into young adults. Instead of looking to the future, I found myself clinging to the past. I realized that I needed to focus my energy on something else, and I needed to allow my boys to grow into the young men they were becoming.

Hence, the dog.

When I brought Max home, my whole lifestyle changed. Granted, he’s not a high maintenance dog, but there is a lot of responsibility that is required to take care of a dog! My days began to consist more of taking care of Max – feeding, playing, walking, holding – than taking care of my teenage sons. When they were out with their friends, I was at home taking care of Max, or just hanging out on the couch with him watching a TV show. He quickly became one of my best friends and hang out buddies.

our dog riding in the car with us

Max was always happy to sit with me, or available for a hug. He never said “No” when I asked him if he wanted to take a walk. And in the evenings, when we were both tired, he was always there to sit on my lap and keep me warm.

As our children grow up and begin to leave the nest, we all find a way to adjust. Some women take up a new hobby, such as running or knitting, some go back to work or college, and some obsess over their children and get stuck in that mode of smothering mothering.

Getting Max allowed me to more easily transition my time and lifestyle to that of a relaxed and accepting mom than a smothering mother.

We all want our kids to soar, and I’m finding out that the only way they can do that successfully is if we give them the gift of acceptance and support. Getting a dog has made that just a little bit easier. I know that he will always be home to greet me, he’s always happy to see me, and I can spend hours just talking to him, if I need to. I’m able to stop obsessing over my children, now young adults, and give them the freedom they need and deserve.

If you are thinking of ways to help you through this transition, you might just need to consider getting a dog. It’s been my saving grace, and maybe it could be yours too.

our dog max falling asleep on the bed

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