Empty Nest Unrest

Personal Essays

Any empty nester will tell you that a home sans offspring brings both joy and pain. Today my little house behind the blue door feels especially lifeless. It might have something to do with the grey weather outside or my husband’s late hours at work.  My dogs, Georgia and Ivy,  give me great company but still, I’m missing my kids and their friends and the constant animation they have created in our home since 1996.

We have been empty nesters since September.  Some days I remember (with confidence) my children are both at good schools that fit them well and I am buoyed through sadness.  Other days feel listless and, well….empty, indeed.

Lots has been written about Empty Nest Syndrom, which is not a clinical condition in itself. Of course, it can lead to feelings of lonliness and depression and that should not be overlooked (although someone like Tom Cruise would probalby dispute it).

When I miss my kids horribly, I tend to walk through their rooms. Some experts warn against keeping kid’s rooms as shrines but, we want our kids who are almost 19 and almost 22 to make the first move.

I made the mistake of re-decorating my youngest daughter’s room once while she was on a summer trip. It wasn’t a successful surprise. At this point, I feel like sterilizing their spaces into mere guest rooms would feel like pulling the proverbial rug out from under them. At least it would feel that way for my freshman.

One thing I did accomplish when they left last Fall was thorough closet cleanings. They both had all kinds of little bags and purses filled with trinkets and coins and little treasures they had collected on vacations. After wading through both rooms, I ended up with bags of change that rendered over $400 when dumped into the Coinstar machine at the local grocery store. I’m still not sure whether I consider the money theirs or mine.

So, feeling a bit sullen, I’m going to reflect upon the upsides of the empty nest:

  1. extra closet space for the coats that have always been unnaturally jammed into mine
  2. a really clean house. other than washing the pan my husband makes eggs in every morning, many days I have almost no clean-up work. we often order dinner so the pesky nighttime dishes ordeal is eliminated
  3. no need to nag. my kids might be dressing in wrinkled-up clothing and t-shirts that look ready for the rag bag-, but, out of sight, out of mind
  4. hopefully they are taking full advantage of their classes, questioning, probing, exploring and learning things that will lead to a fulfilling life and the ability to earn healthy paychecks. After all, my husband and I  won’t be able to retire on that $400 closet-bounty alone

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