Invitation Without Expectation: Wisdom for Empty Nest Moms

One of the hardest things for an empty nest mom to do is to let go of trying to create the perfect holiday gatherings.

I want to share a text conversation I had with my kids last week. Four out of our five kids live within an hour of our Central Illinois home. Three are married and live near their spouse’s extended family.

My text let everyone know that my mom, sister, and niece would be visiting for Easter so I would be hosting Easter dinner on Sunday at 2pm. I wanted to let everyone know and see who would be joining us.

At Thanksgiving and Christmas we try to figure out a plan for making sure everyone can gather–often choosing another time than Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Eve or Day to make it easier for everyone. Other holidays and opportunities are hit or miss.

You’ll notice that my daughter (Anne) responded that they would be there and she would bring a vegetable to share. My daughter-in-law (Larisa) indicated that they couldn’t join us.


text message

I don’t know the exact reason why they can’t join us and I won’t be asking. There’s a variety of possible reasons—she might be hosting Easter for her family at their new home. She might be working that weekend (she’s a night-shift labor and delivery nurse). They might be going to her parents for Easter. Heck, they have three kids under the age of three (two they are fostering) and they are tired. Maybe they just need a quiet weekend at home.

I don’t know the reason and I don’t need to. They don’t “owe” us anything. We operate on an “invitation without guilt” principle.

We love spending time with all our kids. In fact we were at Larisa and Austin’s home all last weekend helping them with home projects.

As empty nesters we have to be careful about the expectations we put on our kids to make us happy. Or the obligation we impose to gather because it’s a holiday.

Am I disappointed they won’t be there? Sure. I am. Because I love seeing them and I love having my kids home and my family together. However, I have to work through that in my own heart. I value the health of the relationship more than a “perfect” holiday gathering.

I wanted to share this because I thought someone else might need the encouragement.

Invite…but don’t guilt.

P.S. If you’re an empty-nest or close-to-empty-nest mom, don’t go it alone! I have all kinds of resources for you over at!

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