Our Story Begins
The Empty(ish) Nest
The idea of your child leaving home is never an easy thought. You hear all the cliches: “time moves so fast”; “cherish every moment.” There are certainly a ton of others.
I started this whole thing a couple years ago when my oldest daughter went off to college. As a parent you never know how you’re going to react in these situations. For us it’s not an easy situation since the empty nest lost one of its branches five years ago. When my wife passed away in 2011 the last thing we ever thought about was a couple years into the future when one of the kids was leaving.
When my oldest daughter went off to college it was certainly a hard thing to fathom that our new household of five was going down to four. It was hard considering how proud I was about the fact that my kids had all come so far in life knowing that they had simply their dad playing both roles for them in the house. Yet they did . . . and how could I begrudge them their newfound independence?
When the empty nest syndrome really hits home is when my daughter actually comes home. It takes a little while for the kids and I to get used to the dynamic of having her back in the house. It’s true that her bedroom and some of her clothes and a ton of other things remain in the house.
Still . . . you ease into a different kind of routine when one of your kids leaves the home. So when another person comes into the household, no matter how familiar, the dynamic changes.
And here’s the thing…your kids come back, for certain, but that dynamic you had never really returns the way it was. Why? Because lots of things change. My daughter spent her Spring Break on a trip camping with friends in national parks. She worked last summer at her university. Add to that is the fact that all those life experiences, without all of us in the equation, make her getting older and more of an adult.
I also added another person into the mix as I started dating, which makes things even stranger a dynamic for all the kids. Your oldest child comes home to a household where everyone is used to seeing this new person and they have to get used to the fact that they see their father with another person.
The biggest thing, though, simultaneously difficult and satisfying, is the fact that your child is now an adult. You hope and pray as you raise these tiny little creatures, that they become functioning and capable adults. So when you see that adult walk into the home and carrying themselves as more of an adult than a child any more, it’s kind of a source of pride.
New parents have asked me whether it’s one of the hardest things in the world to watch my child be grown up now. It’s not hard . . . it’s melancholy, sure, but it’s not sad. When your kids succeed you get to see that maybe . . . just maybe . . . you didn’t really screw up too badly.
Then, once in awhile, you also see the old dynamic return. They need to talk, talk about the bad day they had . . . or, you know . . . ask for money.
But the thing to remember is that your nest . . . it is never really empty. The kids will always be your kids.
And in the end . . . you never stop being their parent.
What about you? Do you worry about your kids leaving home?