Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Unexpected Empty Nest

Oh, You Mean They Grow Up and Go Away?

Although I've been facing this reality since my youngest turned 18 last February, I didn't feel the impact until this week. Sunday we took our youngest son to college, 4 hours away, and I cried. I cried the day before and the day after too.

He's always stayed close to home, not being as socially inclined as my other 2 kids. He had his circle of friends but enjoyed spending a lot of time on his own activities at home. He asked me to homeschool him, it was his choice. I have enjoyed his company every day for 18 1/2 years and now he's so far away.

This is the week I never expected. I think I imagined that one of my kids would always be somewhere nearby. This morning I took my daughter to the airport and sent her off to Vietnam. She is doing a semester abroad. When she returns she'll visit her fiancee in AZ, and then finish her senior year at College in upstate NY.

My oldest son is also moving out this week. He's been commuting an hour and a half each way to work for over a year now, and we knew he would eventually move. He was accepted to graduate school but postponed it for a year because he was already working; now he's going to do both. To keep his job and go to night school he has to move to MA so he will be closer to school and work.

All Together Now, Off We Go

I didn't expect it all to happen in one week, no, not my plan. My oldest had planned to move out last June, but his living arrangement didn't work out. My daughter was not 100% sure of her overseas trip until the end of June. Of course we knew our younger son was going to college, but the summer was so busy with internships and people coming and going that we didn't have much time to think about it.

Then suddenly, it all came together this week. One by one they have gone or are going off: youngest on Sunday, middle on Thursday, and oldest on Saturday. They all flew the coop, leaving us with our tears and tons of cleaning.

I am sad and I will miss them so much. Even though our youngest will be back during school breaks, and we'll see them all on the holidays, this is the beginning of the truly empty nest. I am having a hard time digesting the idea of life without our kids living with us.

It feels like the first time I gave birth.

For 9 months you know you are going to have a baby but no matter how much you read or how many classes you take nothing can completely prepare you for being a new parent. Even if you have done a lot of babysitting, even babysitting infants, it is not quite the same as giving birth to, and caring for your own newborn 24/7. It's a life changing shock, or more like your life has changed forever and you are in shock.

That's kind of how I feel right now. Even though I had plenty of time to prepare, it's different in reality. I have to get used to the change and get beyond the shock. They are all adults, they are on their own, it's their time to chart their own courses. It's the reverse of giving birth, or is it rebirth?

I'll go with rebirth, my rebirth.

As we drove our youngest to college he asked me, "Mom, what are you going to do with all your free time
now?" I was grateful that he recognised that my time has been seriously preoccupied by him and his siblings. I replied, "What free time? I have tons to do. I'm working part time, looking for another part-time job, I do volunteer work, I do yoga, I'm trying to clean and fix up the house so we can rent out a room, and I'm taking care of 3 pets!" Then I added, "If I find any free time I'll sleep, read a book or watch a movie."

Little does he know I do have a plan. A plan to recreate my life.

Changing Priorities

There have been a lot of things on the back burner that need some attention. I do need to increase my income, focus on improving my health, and clean and repair this old house. Although I've been trying to do those things all along, I can now focus more exclusively on what needs to happen. 

We managed to collect a lot of stuff during the past 24 years while raising a family and it's time to let some of it go. It's time to get this old nest in shape for sale or rental so the hubby and I can flap our own wings a little bit. There are places to go and things to see, old friends to meet and new friends to make. This is not the end of the road, it's the beginning of a new one. A new adventure awaits and it's uncharted territory for us.
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."-T. S. Eliot

1 comment:

  1. My kids are small but I am dreading this day. I often think of this day and feel scared. But I know i have to let go sometime.


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