Three years ago, I was asked how I felt about becoming an empty nester. I knew the socially acceptable answer was that I had no idea what I was going to do with my life and all the free time. I thought I was supposed to say my children are my life and I don’t know how I will fill the emptiness. The truth was, I wasn’t sure how I felt. I had mixed emotions. Sure I was going to miss having three daughters at home. Going to all the endless activities they were involved in at school, but I was slowly preparing myself as each daughter went away to college. In my head, I knew that just because my youngest was heading to college and would no longer be living at home, didn’t mean I would stop being a mother. It didn’t mean I wouldn’t still be involved in their lives and activities. It didn’t mean they no longer needed advice or help from me. It just meant my children did not live at my home anymore. I was thinking very logically. By the time my third daughter was heading off to college, I had several ideas of how I would occupy my time and fill the emptiness.
I was actually looking forward to being an empty nester.
Turns out I was right to look forward to being an empty nester. In the first year of empty nesting, I had two daughters at the same college and one graduate living in Chicago. And here’s my list of all the fun activities that we dove into:
- My husband and I traveled whenever possible.
- Trips to Mexico and Florida three times each.
- We went on dates a lot more.
- Harley rides whenever the weather was nice.
- Tennis three times a week.
- We joined Blue Apron where we prepared gourmet type meals three nights a week together.
- Parent weekend visits at our girls’ college.
- I went to mom’s days at sororities.
- Countless Chicago visits.
- Tailgating with our daughters, their friends, and families at every home football game.
We were having so much fun.
I was still just as involved and busy in their lives and my own just as before. There were moments when someone would ask where my workout buddy was (my youngest daughter) and my eyes would tear up. But, I would always tell myself that my girls were only a short car ride away.
Little did I know life was about to change again.
The second year of our empty-nesting required a big adjustment. Our oldest daughter moved back home while she was transitioning into her new role at her job. We ceased to be empty nesters for an entire year. Traveling slowed down. We didn’t go on as many dates or Harley rides. The house seemed more hectic while we were all trying to adjust to each other’s schedules. But, I had a daughter at home and it was great while it lasted. I had a shopping buddy again and a daughter to hang out with. That was the beginning of realizing how lonely it was without the girls at home. Her moving back home was a subtle reminder of the day to day things I had been missing. One year after she moved in everything changed again and I’m now realizing what it truly feels like to be an empty nester.
Now, three years later, we again became empty-nesters.
It is amazing how quickly lives can change. Within the span of three weeks, our oldest daughter changed careers and moved to Seattle. Our middle daughter graduated and accepted a job offer in Denver. And our youngest daughter accepted an internship in Nashville.
I have to admit, it is a little harder to be involved in their lives because all three of them are more than just a simple car ride away from me, but I visited Nashville twice and Denver once. I’m going to Seattle next month. Up until this very moment, while writing this blog, I hadn’t realized how very quiet the house is. If I was being honest, it’s a little lonely too. My youngest only has four weeks left of her internship and then it’s back home then off to college, only a 45-minute car ride. I look forward to more mom days at her sorority, parent weekends, tailgating, and football.
Now, when asked how I feel about the empty nest, I feel I have a better grasp of the true meaning. It is a little sad. It’s a little lonely. I choose to focus on the adventures our daughters have added to our lives by simply making their own ways in the world. Now I’m planning vacations based on my daughters’ geographic locations and looking at calendars to see when all of us can get together during holidays.
Right now I feel like it’s the best time of my life. Being an empty nester brings exciting new adventures to life. I can only look forward to what is to come!