Happinest Podcast

06: Finding Common Interest and Reconnecting When Your Last Child Leaves Home with JW Walker and Pamela Gaye Walker

When Your Last Kid Leaves, it’s a Major Transition and a Time to Pro-Actively Reinvent Yourself and Let Go of Your Young Adult Fledglings.

With JW Walker, an actor who produced The Incredibles movies, and his actress wife Pamela Gaye Walker, who performed together in the two-person gig The Empty Nesters play. When their two daughters left home, the Walkers tapped their personal experience for The Empty Nesters play and poured it into their characters. The play earned accolades in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Pam has appeared in films and television as well as plays. Fifteen years ago, when The Incredibles hit theaters, she was holding down the fort with two daughters, and juggling that with a grueling acting career. Pam identified with “Elastigirl,” the mother in the movie The Incredibles whose super power is to be flexible and often stretched to her limits.

The Walkers are founders of Walker and Ghost Ranch Productions.

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What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • It’s strange when you drop you last child off after 18 years at home. The departure of the last kid is a milestone that sent the Walkers driving around in circles sobbing.
  • While Pam had been preparing for the empty nest for some time, JW had focused on logistics, like getting plane tickets. The reality of the empty nest hit him suddenly at the drop off. His wife Pam invoked a line from his film The Incredibles: “Pull yourself together Elastigirl.”
  • The preparation for the departure can be worse than the actual separation because it is the end of an era.
  • Experiencing a sense of novelty with your partner can ease the empty nest transition: Take a short trip or a weekend away to celebrate the beginning of an exciting new era.
  • Finding common ground with your partner again is key. The Walkers returned to their mutual passion of acting to produce The Empty Nestersplay after their last child left home.
  • Most empty nesters today are launching a second or third act.
  • Now is the to time actively discover what you want to do and give it a go. Reinvent yourself. Go out and Make it Happen!

Judy with JW Walker