Sure our kids have been adults and on their own for a few years now. But because they were continuously coming and going from our house, I didn’t “officially” count them as “gone” until they married and started homes of their own. October 2006. May 2008. And finally, January 2014. They’ve all gone and done it and now we are really empty nesters.
When our oldest daughter got married in 2006, it was hard — and weird. Hard because she had been my “first” with all of my motherly milestone’s and here she was handing me another tearful first: married daughter.
And it was weird because here was this adult woman that I had known intimately since her birth now joining my status level of wife as an equal and contributing member to this club. Whoa.
When my second daughter got married two years later, the shock value had worn off. I knew what more to expect and enjoyed observing her transition to the world of wifery and homemaker.
Our youngest is our one and only son. It has always been different with him, simply because of the male component. He and my husband have been best friends and soul brothers which gave me a break in the daily mothering activities. He was a dream son for this mother. He has always shown me love and respect, kindness and friendship, stuff that I will always treasure.
Before they married, our girls only left us for occasional spurts with college. It was our son who came and went the most. First college. Then a two year mission for our church to Mexico. Back to college. And his last great gig: a summer job in Alaska. It would have to be in Alaska that he happened to meet the girl of his dreams and thus provide the impending steps for my husband and I to perpetual empty nester status.
I was pretty anxious when we first “teased” ourselves with empty nesthood. I was worried that my husband and I wouldn’t have anything to talk about or share with just ourselves since the past 20 or so years revolved around everything child related. I seriously considered making a conversation jar — a mason jar filled with strips of paper that had written on them conversation starter topics — just in case there was a lot of silence at the dinner table. Honest truth.
I’m not going to lie — the beginning attempts were tricky. But it didn’t take long for us to rediscover our couple selves and get in to a daily empty nest routine: Go to work, come home and I make dinner. We eat it on t.v. trays while watching FOX News. Then, my husband does the dishes and cleans up the kitchen. Probably sounds a little boring but we like it.
Saturdays have become our hobby day. We detail our cars together, work on house projects, watch a movie (or College Football when it is in season. My absolute favorite!!). We bought bikes. We like to pick a place to go eat lunch at and pedal on over there. Sundays are filled with church and card games before we hit it again. We’ve created a nice little re-make and quite enjoy it.
What do I like the best about being a true empty nester? Being able to be spontaneous — something that was practically unheard of when we had five lives to work around. Bigger and more frequent vacations due to the fact that we have more discretionary funds. More quiet time for myself and with my husband. Less cleaning. Two people don’t really make that big of a mess. And this might sound weird but I really like being able to walk nude around the house and not having to worry about always covering myself up. Being free and easy has its benefits.
What I’ve come to dislike the most about being a true empty nester? The quiet time. I really miss the commotion of having a bunch of active human beings around. Cooking is really hard for two people. It is boring and there is always more leftovers than we can ever finish and not get sick of. Consequently, we eat out more than we should — or that I would like to — just for convenience sake. Finding purpose. Sure I am still really busy with work, blogging, church service, etc. but let’s face it: there is no greater life purpose than raising children to be productive, contributing, fascinating adults.
Empty Nesthood. I can’t change my situation. But just like with all my previous status changes, if I am going to find joy, I need to push forward, embrace it, and make the most of it. Life is all about change. Darn it.
Are you an empty nester too? What have you done to embrace this stage of life?