Nine months later, still figuring out the empty nest thing.

Since two of our babies flew away in August, I’ve noticed a few things that are rather nice about having a smaller household. Getting by on leftovers at least three nights a week is good. Getting away with NOT doing any laundry a couple of days a week isn’t bad. More quiet evenings at home and almost a complete stop to various meetings and committees has not exactly hurt my feelings.

But the down side is pretty hefty.

Every now and then it hits me like a bolt from the blue that our dear, funny, even-tempered, fascinating Oldest will never again be with us for more than a few days at a time.

Today while grocery shopping, I plopped my huge collection of reusable bags on the conveyer. We always needed seven bags for the weekly shopping when the whole family was home. Today I only needed two and a half bags. I said something about “Oh, we usually have five home for dinner, but I guess this week is different.” And then I realized…no, two and a half bags is a normal grocery load now. It sounds like a really stupid thing to get upset about, but I had to choke back tears on the way out to the van.

And then there’s the heartwarming but bittersweet stuff…

Last night The Boy texted and asked if he could call. This pretty much never happens, so I knew something was up. My stomach was in knots until my phone rang. As it turned out, he was concerned about his girlfriend, in college seven hours away from him and four from her home, and having a really rough time adjusting to being away at school. He wanted my advice. Yes, you read that right. A nineteen-year-old wanted his mother’s advice. He even went so far as to say that what I’d told him was helpful. As we said good-bye I said, as I always do, “I love you.” And knock me over with a marshmallow, he said back, “I love you, too.” I honestly think that’s the first time I’ve heard those words from my boy since he was in kindergarten.

Things continue to change. I continue to try and adapt. And occasionally, there are tears.


20 thoughts on “Nine months later, still figuring out the empty nest thing.

  1. With my (small) house always so full – and feeling it’s “too” full at times, I appreciate this perspective. I’ve got to remember how short this parenting gig truly is. 🙂 I’m sorry that shopping is such a trigger for you (I’m sure it will be for me too) Big *hugs* to you!


    • Thanks, Valerie. I hadn’t thought in terms of “triggers” for this particular grief thing, and that’s a really interesting way to look at it. I’m glad my perspective is helpful to you.


      • Yeah, I don’t think it’s a matter of necessarily avoiding triggers (obviously, we gotta shop!), but knowing what they are can make you more aware of them and maybe help prepare you beforehand. 🙂


    • Oh, those college trips…That’s a very special time together. At the time they wore me out, but now I think of them as precious memories. I suppose that’s because when we were at that stage, my darlings were still returning home with me and were still mine. I hope your son’s college-choosing experience is a good one and that you enjoy it, too. And it’s really good to hear from you – I’ve been missing your posts! -Amy


  2. Can we just stop the clock please? !!!! I hope I didn’t contribute to your feelings of sadness by reminding you of our situation with my “blog o’ woe” from yesterday. 😦


    • Oh, don’t worry – I got into that particular pity party all by myself. Strangely, the Friday grocery shopping trip tends to do that to me, largely because for the last 20-odd years I’ve always had at least one of my little darlings with me for that weekly chore and we had so much fun doing it. Sigh. But thank you for the thoughts. -Amy


  3. For someone managing the endless demands of two preschoolers 24/7 this is a great post to read. And it makes me feel that all the hard work is maybe not such hard work when it will be for such a short, sweet time. Thank you.


    • Oh, I’m so glad my thoughts spoke to you in that way, Rose. I think that’s always behind what I write about missing my kids – I spent all those years knowing that it was the best time in my life, and I appreciated it so much. In some way that does make the separation time now just a little easier.


  4. Truly beautiful. So hard to think that kids are actually not coming back home permanently again. But we grow and learn to live again in a different way, thankful to God that we had them with us for so many years. Yes, and we did our best…


    • You’re right – I’m VERY slowly learning a new way of life. The tough part is that I recognize that my “mommy” years were what I wanted most out of life…so at this point anything else seems “downhill.” -Amy


  5. Oy! My heart goes out to you. Kid 1 goes to college in the Fall, although pretty close by. I still get kid 2 for 4 more years but I am trying to prepare myself. I adore my kids and more than that really enjoy them. Not sure how I am going to handle the empty nest. Keep your chin up!


    • Thank you. Your words seem so familiar. I suppose a big part of my problem is that I, like you, so enjoy being with our kids. Even in the teen years, which so many people dread, they were a delight almost all the time. I’m glad you’re enjoying the time with yours. 🙂


  6. I was with you, and actually still with you. However, now that I have a boomerang, and one soon to be a boomerang, I didn’t get enough “freedom” time. I love them ALL to pieces, but I would really like to see them spread their wings and and fly with simple advice, and not reliance. I’m starting to think I did something wrong.


    • April, I can imagine how concerned and frustrated you must be. But I hope you can let go of the worry that you did something wrong. To tell the truth, I’m certain we ALL did something wrong – there’s never been a perfect parent. What’s most important, though, is that you were always there (and are still there) loving and caring the best way you know how. That trumps everything. Thinking of you…-Amy


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