It has been almost one year since my husband and I have become “empty nesters.” (Someone with bad grammar came up with that term; it always gets hung up on my spell check). Our three little birdies have all now flown the coop to roosts in other states and one is even out of the country.
At first, I panicked. After 26 years of our lives revolving around “kid talk” and “kid activities,” all of a sudden that was no longer our main focus. I worried that we wouldn’t be able to carry on a decent conversation at dinnertime and even went so far as to suggest putting together a “conversation starter jar.” (You know, one of those jars filled with slips of paper that have clever ideas or questions written on them and are meant to get you talking past “How was your day?”) I have to admit the first week of empty nesting dinnertimes were a little bit tricky. But then we settled in to a routine and meal time conversations have just kind of evolved. No conversation jar needed.
We definitely have become more spontaneous–something quite foreign in our previous life. We still have our scheduled church, civic, and work responsibilities taking up the bulk of our time. What is different is that these obligations are only our obligations and we don’t have to worry about figuring in three very busy children and their very busy lives as well. More open slots.
Another benefit is that we don’t hold ourselves to having a date night on just the weekends any more. In fact, we avoid weekend going out as much as possible because everywhere is so crowded. Our new favorite date night is what we now affectionately refer to as “Taco Tuesday.” For some reason, the whole special taco deals on Tuesdays escaped us until last year when my friend and hair stylist (that is the modern term for the person who cuts and colors your hair, right?) Paula A. told me about this little taco joint that served killer potato tacos and on Tuesdays, the tacos were cheaper. So we gave it a try. Very yummy and very festive. And also a little busy because apparently there are a lot of people out there who are very much in the know of the Taco Tuesday. At first, we just went out on Tuesdays and tried different taco deals at different Mexican restaurants. Then we got the bright idea to try other venues on Tuesdays besides tacos. Next, we expanded past food to things like movies, grocery shopping, and window shopping. What we discovered was: less crowds. And less crowds means a more delightful date night.
Going back to being just “a couple” has been quite refreshing and has added a new and positive dimension to our relationship. But empty nesting isn’t just a term reserved for couples; it applies to any individual who has left the child rearing and day-to-day involvement of children behind. It certainly requires an adjustment for anyone at this stage to learn how to fill new found opportunities. But just like any other change, if you anticipate it, plan for it, and make the most of it, you really begin to embrace it.