Exploring After The Empty Nest
I spent about a year moping about after my youngest fledged the nest for Northeastern University.
A study in contrasts of the day he left for kindergarten and I danced in the street after his school bus turned the corner. Later that day Karma smacked me down when his teachers didn’t load him into his bus ride home. Yikes. Odd creaking upstairs was just the house settling or adjusting to humidity and temperature changes. After fourteen years of boys thumping, crashing, slamming, and laughing, my house was empty. Too empty.
Months after Youngest left for Boston I still mentally attributed household sounds to him, then gradually my brain caught on. Odd creaking upstairs was just the house settling or adjusting to humidity and temperature changes. After fourteen years of boys thumping, crashing, slamming, TV blasting, voices laughing, my house was empty. Too empty.
It’s going on three years now, and I’ve finally realized there are plus sides to empty nesting. No need to buy expensive and often wasted vegetarian entrees, no disagreements about curfews and sharing cars. Then there was the realization that our social life rotated around school volunteering, Scouting, orchestra, choir, etc. The piles of kids’ shoes in our foyer, belonging to our sons’ friends, went elsewhere. Familiar faces of those friends’ parents faded as our lives moved on, and a realization that we didn’t have a social life of our own.
Reinventing ourselves from parents of high school kids to college students, then adult men have been an experiment. Who am I but Sam or Colin’s mom? Regressing back to being an introvert was a shock. Will I stay home and feel depressed and lonely, or get off my too fluffy keister and do things? So easy to pick the former when getting out and making myself socialize is kind of frightening.
Last year we bought a teardrop camper and started going to music gatherings or parks. Where I secretly hated sleeping on inflatable mattresses as a Cub Scout volunteer, I can now snuggle in a four-inch memory foam mattress in a tricked-out travel trailer. Turn on the camper AC, take a nap, or listen to a novel through the sound system. We can pack up our dogs and go places where my husband can play music. Or unwind as we hike along lake paths or through the woods. I’ve fallen back in love with trees, with the wind making sounds as it travels through a wood or across a body of water.
I still miss our sons daily but am happy they’ve found their place in the world. That they’ve turned into men we always dreamed they’d be and are doing things they’d dreamed of growing up.
So I can sit outside a bakery in a sleepy Texas town and talk to my husband, sneak bits of croissant to our fur children, and plan on the next trip. This heady new path feels almost intoxicating.