It’s now official, I can add a new title behind my name—Empty Nester.
Ahh, the nest. It conjures up such a pretty picture, doesn’t it? The perfectly shaped orb of fluffy straw and mommy bird feathers . . . such a safe, cozy, and comfortable place for the baby bird and her parents. You can just picture the bird family sharing a nightly meal. Mommy bird covers baby with her wing, while daddy bird is never far away, and always keeping watch.
Taking a quick look around my now child-free home, the scene does not produce a feeling anything like that pretty picture. The kids may be gone but everything else stayed behind . . . including their messy rooms! The dirty dishes in the sink haven’t found their own way into the dishwasher. Laundry is still piled up in the hamper, even though it’s the “clean” hamper. The grass is still halfheartedly mowed and one project or another is still sitting on the dining room table awaiting a few finishing touches.
It seems we have replaced the business of kids with the business of other things. A more accurate description of my empty nest would be my EMPTY MESS!
Of course, there were a lot of events between the arrival of the newborn and the abandoning of the parents. Remember how we hurried them along? Hurry up and walk, then talk. We couldn’t wait for them to become a little more independent. The carpool, the groundings, the social media drama. Any regrets? Wish you could have a do-over? Honestly, even a hundred do-overs wouldn’t make much difference for me. I’m sure I did most things the “wrong way” by today’s standards. The “right way” to raise children seems to flip 180 degrees every few years or so, but despite it all, things seemed to work out okay. As my friends keep reminding me—at least they didn’t move in to the basement!!
I remember asking my mom after my first year of marriage, “Why didn’t you tell me it was going to be this hard?” I asked again after one unusually long bout of the Terrible Twos. She smiled her Mona Lisa smile and replied that she did tell me . . . of course she did.
The same can be true for what’s happening to me now. Why didn’t anyone tell me this empty nest thing was going to be so hard? One minute, well, okay, for 25 years, every moment has been filled with what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Who has an appointment? Where is sports practice, the music lesson, the Boy Scouts meeting? And don’t forget the dog needs to go to the vet. And above all, remember the snack—it’s your week to bring the HOMEMADE cupcakes!
It would be too easy to say “good riddance.” That was Crazy Town, and I was the mayor. But you know what? I’m still trying to figure this whole thing out. It took my husband six months before he stopped asking, “Why are you here all the time?”
There is no shortage of self-help books that promise you “Help through this life transition,” “How to speak to one another again,” or “Become who you were meant to be.” Honestly, it all sounds a little dramatic. Who have I been if I haven’t been me?
And then there is the popular suggestion to “re-invent” yourself.
I think I’ll go with that one, but I’m wondering . . . do I still have to clean up?