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Tell us a little bit about yourself (age, # of children and ages, marital status, how long ago you became an empty nester, and anything about you that you think is relevant.
I have 2 boys; ages 18 and 20. I am 53 years old and was fortunate to be able to stay home with the boys since they were born. My husband and I have been married for 27 years. We became empty nesters in August 2017.
What were the circumstances of your last child leaving home and what were your initial emotions?
My youngest son left for college. Emotions were mixed. I was excited for him to start the next chapter of his journey. To see what he became involved in at college, the new friends he would make, how he would grow and develop without the confines of home and parental guidance. Yet, it was my baby leaving. After 21 years of being at home with my boys I was no longer a stay at home mom. Just a jobless woman with grown children.
Did you make any changes in your lifestyle or living arrangements after you became an empty nester?
No, the difference was timing in getting the same things done. Grocery shopping doesn’t take as long, the house stays picked up, meals only need to be served once a night, not when my son made it home from sports or work.
What has been the biggest change in your relationship since becoming an empty nester?
I don’t know that they have necessarily changed, but that I feel I have more time to give to them. So in that respect I imagine they will flourish instead of being constant.
What do you think is the most difficult thing about becoming an empty nester?
The most difficult thing has been not knowing what’s going on in the boys’ lives. They call and text to share what’s going on, so I have a pretty good idea, but I don’t have the day to day interaction with them that lets me see things in their expressions and mannerisms about what’s going on.
What do you wish you might have known about life as an empty nester?
I feel I knew what to expect. My husband and I consciously raised the boys with the expectation that they would leave us and go to college. We knew we would be on our own again and spend time just the two of us to work on our relationship. We didn’t want to end up staring at each other after the kids left and think “What now?”
What advice would you give someone whose last child is about to leave home?
Not to be surprised with the range of emotions for yourself and for the other family members. Especially of the child leaving. It’s a happy, joyous time, except it’s an anxious time too. The unknown often brings angst.
What do you think are the advantages of being an empty nester?
Interesting question….. my husband, being an engineer, sat me down so we could make a pro/con list of being empty nesters. The pro side had many entries. The con side had one: miss the the kids.
How has your life changed since your children left home?
The house is a lot quieter. Day to day life is simpler. We are able to fill the calendar with things we want to do, when we want to do it. No more sports events, school events, or arranging of a car schedule to get in the way.
Any additional thoughts, comments or advice?
Take the time you need to grieve the old and learn to embrace the new. Plan a trip to celebrate the birdies successfully leaving the nest. (As I write this we are on Kauai for our celebration.) Give yourself credit for a job well done; you raised them to 18 and they got into college. Before you know it they come home again for a weekend visit and there is relief when they head back to school! Saying “good bye” will become easier. “Hellos” will become sweeter.