Dealing with the Empty Nest
Your kids may leave, but they'll always be a part of your life.
Over the past couple of weeks, many of our community’s high school graduates left for college, mine included. Facebook posts described the range of emotions that accompanied this milestone. The kids expressed excitement while moms choked back tears.
Well, mostly tears. Some moms found themselves wishing that move-in day would hurry up and arrive. After all, 18-year-old graduates can be a tad bit hard to love.
I confess that I was ready for my son’s departure last Monday. Following his May graduation from Etowah High School, he declared himself an adult and resisted most things uttered by his parents. Oh, he took the trash out, emptied the litter box and vacuumed his room on a fairly regular basis. But he was mostly focused on wakeboarding on Lake Allatoona and joining his 100 best friends at the Rascal Flatts concert.
Thankfully, our son has now resumed a more structured life. He settled into his dorm, hung the requisite college posters and seems appropriately engaged in his first semester of classes.
As for me? I miss his presence. I miss being stranded in the shower, having discovered too late that the rascal stole my soap and shampoo for his own bathroom and failed to tell me. I miss his routine of joining me on the couch and talking about his friends, his girlfriends, his dreams, his happiness over the smallest of things.
The house is so quiet now. When he lived here but was not home, I could anticipate the sound of his footsteps as he entered the front door and bounced down to the basement, usually followed by his pals.
Indeed, I miss all the other boys whose presence permeated this house since kindergarten. Their noises echo throughout the rooms of my now silent house. I even miss the trail of wet leaves and dirty footprints and the remnants of a raided refrigerator awaiting me following each of their visits.
Allow me to borrow from and modify a line from playwright Arthur Miller: They were all my sons. And that is why my nest feels even emptier than I realized it ever would. All my boys are gone.
Empty nest syndrome. Simply put, it’s the sadness or feeling of abandonment that accompanies the departure of a child from the home. Women typically experience these feelings more often than men, but the sense of loss and colossal change is a family matter.
Typically, empty nests result in husbands and wives looking at each other across the dinner table wondering what they’re supposed to do now.
But there is life beyond the empty nest. Let’s face it, your kid still needs you, so you’re not actually finished as a parent. And after many years of focusing solely on the wee one, empty nest couples now have the time to rekindle friendships, pursue hobbies with abandon and actually spend time with each other.
I miss my boy, my precious Taylor. I miss his presence, his friends, his daily dramas. But we are at a different point in our relationship. He is on his own and must handle the daily matters. And I am still here, but only when he truly needs me.
In the meantime, my husband and I look at each other across the dinner table and recall our previous lives. We do remember the rhythms and routines of our early marriage. But we are also at a different point in our relationship. We are parents, after all.
Yes, we will travel, expand friendships and return to dive in Mexico. But we will never again do these things without looking at each other and saying, “I wish Taylor was here with us.”