In the mid-1990’s I was welcomed into the wonderful world of motherhood. I had a son in March 1995 followed by a daughter in January 1997. Those two beautiful babies became my heart and soul. Through them I learned about unconditional love, they were my everything. Being the best mother I could be to them got me through my separation from their father in 2001 and our eventual divorce a few years later . Continuing to be their mom is what got me through my battle with colon cancer in 2008.

Flash forward to today. My oldest, my handsome 6’2″ son (aka “little buddy”) is a senior in college. He plays lacrosse and is double majoring in criminal justice and sociology. Currently, his eyes are firmly planted on his May 20, 2017 graduation date. My youngest a petite young lady that I still call “baby girl” is in her sophomore year in college, an Alpha Delta Pi, who’s studying music production and promotions. She’s currently head chairman for promotions at her college’s record label. What about me? I am remarried, cancer free (yay) and…our nest. is. empty.

There are many and sometimes ongoing emotions towards my empty nest. My initial feeling was sadness. Their bedrooms are finally neat for once, but their beds go untouched for months at a time. Closets are mostly empty, expect for few pieces of clothing and shoes that my kids did not wish to take with them. But it doesn’t end there, I didn’t realize how heartbreaking the first trip to the grocery store after their departure was going to be. Not until I went down the cereal aisle and realized that I didn’t have to buy fruit loops anymore. No need to go to the snack aisle to buy “little buddy’s” favorite snack and it doesn’t matter that “baby girl’s” favorite was on sale. There’s was no need to buy the pudding or the fruit snacks, because my kids are not home to enjoy them. It took all that I had to not run out of the grocery store with tears streaming down my face. Then there’s the rush of memories when I ride my car by the school my children once attended or the ball field that I spent countless Saturday afternoons cheering them on as they played their hearts out.  A parking lot full of cars signify that their is a new generation of parents doing what I did so many years ago. And I am so happy for them all! I hope that they are enjoying each and every moment of it while it last.

There is also worry. Being an empty nester means that you worry quite a bit. Both of my children attend colleges out of state. Their freshman year I had the same worries for both: “are the making friends, are they homesick, are they studying enough, are the partying to much?” They have both done very well with their grades, so I know they are studying enough. Which also means they must be balancing the study/party life pretty well. As I stated earlier my son plays lacrosse and my daughter is in a sorority. They both have created a “family” at their home away from home so I no longer worry about whether they have friends. Now I just have the “Oh my goodness why didn’t he/she answer my call just now? I hope he/she isn’t lying in a ditch somewhere. Where’s the nearest hospital to their campus? It’s going to take me hours to get to them.” It sounds a bit over the top, but I have gone to that place and driven myself crazy with unnecessary worrying.

But there is the happy side of being an empty nester. If you were to look in my refrigerator right now, there is most likely bottled water, beer, wine and bar-b-que sauce in there. The freezer only has ice and a bag of frozen vegetables. There’s some rice and oatmeal in the pantry. You see, the beauty of empty nesting is that you don’t have to make dinner anymore! Well you can, but with a few less mouths to feed, really what’s the point. When I get off from work, literally anything can happen. Happy hour with my husband and friends, or shoot some pool and have pizza and wings at the bar, or a bowl of oatmeal for dinner in my pj’s and in bed by 7 pm. My after work possibilities are endless. I have replaced driving my kids to practice or games, sitting in recitals and the homework, bath time, bedtime rituals for some time for just my husband and I! As long as we have a dog sitter overnight getaways, long weekends and childless vacations are our new rituals. Believe me, I miss my kids with all my heart and I cannot wait for the holidays and semester breaks, but I admittedly enjoy my freedom. And my kids have earned their freedom as well. It’s time for them to learn, explore and grew into adults and (well, this part hurts a little) stop being my babies.

So if you are an empty nester, embrace it and all the emotions that come along with it. You’ve seriously earned this time to yourself though. You did, your child did it, you took on the roller coaster of family life together and you made it! Now it’s time for you to enjoy your life!

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22 thoughts on “The Nest Is Empty

  1. Being an empty nester just means you did your job successfully :). You produced independent children and that is a good thing. Just wait till they start bringing grandbabies home and you can do a lot of it over again….only different. When the babies cry you can hand them back with a big smile!

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  2. This hits home for me, as I’m experiencing an empty nest. My oldest son lives in his own apartment and my youngest son is a freshman in college in another state. At first I had a hard time grocery shopping, leaving school ( where I work and he attended) without him and passing by his bedroom. Skyping once a week really helped me so we could connect. I’m much better now, although I miss him I enjoy the time with my husband and I joined a yoga class. Thanks for this post! It’s easier knowing that others are going through it.

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    1. They’re are a lot of us going through it. A year after my meltdown in the grocery store I ran into a friend that I made years ago because our boys played lacrosse together. She was standing in the frozen food section. I walked up to her and said “hey, I saw on facebook that your son went off to college this past weekend”, she broke down into tears. I hug and told her yes, the first trip to the grocery store is the hardest. She said it felt better to know she wasn’t alone.

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  3. Question for you. How on earth did that first year as a mom seem to go on forever, and the next three kind of unfold in slow motion and then, zoooooom, boooooom the next 17 years fly by? It’s crazy. You can tell folks that it’ll happen but they really need to go through it to understand. Yes, enjoy these empty nest years. You’ve certainly earned it.

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    1. So true! I thought I would be cleaning up toys and making spaghetti o’s forever lol! Now the only thing I’m picking up are my dog’s squeaky toys and the fridge is empty. It went by in a flash.

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  4. Beautiful writing. My two children are still in elementary school and middle school, but I know I will never be ready to send them off. I don’t how I will deal with my first trip to grocery store. Nice post!

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  5. As someone who has just barely stepped into this world of motherhood less than two years ago, I can’t even imagine the days when I will drive my a school my son graduated from.

    I’m sure the empty nest experience is new, but isn’t every chapter in life? How special it must be to hop on the phone and have REAL conversations with your children about politics or real world events. How incredible it must be to get inside of the mind of this human that you created! Thanks so much for sharing ❤

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    1. Thank you! I certainly do enjoy my “adult” conversations with them. All the years I spent teaching them. Now I’m learning a thing or two from them.

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  6. I remember that transition. I remember tears streaming down my face as I saw my “baby boy” driving down the driveway. Fortunately, I’d been taking steps, packing the calendar with ways to ease the transition. There IS life after the empty nest, and I’m finding it to be a full and joyful one. (It helps that I just saw him last night). 🙂

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    1. Keeping busy is the best thing to do. And after all, they’re starting a new chapter in their lives and as parent we deserve to start new lives too.

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  7. I’ve been an ’empty nester” for quite sometime now, my son is married and has a child of his own now. It is an amazing time of life….to watch your child be a parent, to hold that grand baby in your arms for the very first time, such a blessing. I’ll always miss hearing “mommy” on a daily basis, but have to admit I’m looking forward to my grand baby saying “Gigi” for the very first time.

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    1. Yes! I can’t wait till my babies have babies! I’m giving them time to finish college and find their way, but I still can’t wait lol!

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  8. Amen and amen. Well said. We too are empty nesters with one grown daughter married, living fifteen minutes away which is nice. Our twenty year old triplets are college sophomores away from home. Still in state which is also nice. I must say, I thought I’d miss all those after school events but I quickly got used to our new normal. It’s as if, that’s the way it should be for us. They bounce back in and out but we’ve reached a point of pride in their independence. Oh, and we have a granddog that visits several times a week. He sure is good training for my daughter and son-in-law before the human grandkids start arriving.

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