Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Preparation is Futile

No matter how hard you try to prepare yourself for the impending doom reality of living in an empty nest, it will still make you feel blindsided when it happens.  At least it did for me.  And this is true even though Hubs and I tried very hard to prepare ourselves.  We talked about it, joked about it, and tried to envision what our lives would be like when the last of our precious ones left the nest.  We had nothing on which to base our stupidity theories other than a desperate attempt to prepare for…get ready for…come to terms with… the reality that would be ours.  We entertained thoughts of just the two of us going to the movies which would mean taking out only a small loan as opposed to a second mortgage when taking the entire family.  We envisioned long walks on the beach without having sand thrown on us or keeping a watchful eye on precious ones in the water.  We considered a bit of traveling without having to entertain the girls or break up fights or answer the age old question of, “Are we there yet?” FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND TIMES.  We anticipated quiet and calm days and nights without interruption from a frightened or sad or energetic child.  We dreamed of room renovations and a house that, once it was cleaned up, stayed that way (OK, that last one was just mine and it really hasn’t worked out just that way---there is still a man living here after all).  We talked about having our own agendas again instead of having every minute dictated by our daughters’ schedules.  Yes, we considered, thought, shared, discussed and, we thought, prepared ourselves nicely.    Even so, when the reality of an empty nest hit, it hit hard.  And EVERYTHING stopped.  EVERYTHING.  And I realized that what an empty nest left me was alone. 
We are now in our second year of our empty nest situation and it is BORING.  Oh, we started out with a bang!  There was a lot of yard work that had been neglected the whole time we were raising our girls (22 years worth) and we put in a garden (which is a constant reminder of the fact that I do NOT have a green thumb but also of my persistence and determination as I refuse to give up and quit) and we got the puppy (Hubs and the girls bought him for me for Mother’s Day in an effort to placate my dread of the, at that time, soon-to-be empty nest and Tucker really is the best gift I have ever received!).  I caught up, somewhat, on scrapbooking those mountains of photos that I never had the time to deal with while the girls were growing up (which took me down memory lane causing me to miss the girls being little.).  I worked on changing our daily diet to a healthier one and began exercising (which started out GREAT as I lost 83 pounds…and then proceeded to put back on 17 of those and now am having to try again.).  I rearranged rooms, made a study, purged the attic (finding all those American Girl dolls and accessories, stuffed animals, clothes--all of which reminded me of the great time we had when the girls were growing up—and still remain in the attic.).  

And now?  Now I am out of energy.  The drive has died down.  I’m lacking in motivation.  I went into it full force (as I always do) and ran out of juice.  And this is where the reality of the situation has really hit hard.  Not only do I not know what to do with myself, I’m not fun to hang out with.  It’s true.  I am a boring person.  Hubs still goes to his job every day and has to deal with his siblings who are….um…let’s just say, troubled, while I sit here and...SIT.  As a SAHM, there was really no time to sit still.  Even at night my ‘mommy brain’ had a section that stayed alert for even the slightest out of place sound.  While the girls were at school, time did not slow down and neither did I.  I was up at that school volunteering in the office and classrooms (our PTA was phenomenal, BTW).  During the summers, we hit the beach or a park every day.  Even through high school, the busy-ness continued.  There is a different sort of busy now.  The kind that you can complete in a matter of a few hours (even the volunteering only takes a couple of hours each week) and then find yourself left with TIME.  Alone time.  Solitary confinement dudes.  
All is not lost, however, as I do see where all I really have to do is get up off my pity pot and DO something.  You know how you take a piece of paper and crinkle it up and, as it sits there, it begins to open back up?  Well, that’s how I am viewing the different stages of my life.  The empty nest phase has crinkled me up into a tight ball, but I’m opening back up.  And, when I’m fully opened, I will embrace this empty nest of ours.  I will remember fondly, without a desire to go back, all those fulfilling years of raising our wonderful daughters.  I will find that elusive green thumb and tend a bountiful garden.  I will continue on my journey to a healthier lifestyle.  I will leave those little reminders in the attic, not for lamenting but for future grandchildren.  And you know what will happen at that point- when I’m all opened back up…well adjusted...discovered who I am in this empty nest world.  From what I hear, that’s when the kids will come back.  With their kids.  And their husbands.  And their dogs.  And I will be crinkled up once again as I open and learn how to have grown children and grandchildren in the house.

Hmmm.....solitary confinement isn't sounding all that bad anymore.

It's day two of NaBloPoMo.  Our instructions were to write a post using the words:  placate, boring, solitary, crinkle and juice.  The theme for the month is "In a word." HEY!  It's never too late to join in!  Just follow the link or click on the button below and sign up! 



  1. Nice post. I promise you will learn to love the peace and quiet. You will have grandkids soon enough, and your house will be filled with noise again. Take this time for you and hubby until that happens.

  2. I really enjoyed this post, and it is so true, of course. But I agree with Tote, make the most of this time, until your girls are back with their own little ones, and then you will be blessed all over again.

  3. You must have been a much better mom than I, because I am just not feeling as much pain about having an empty nest.

    This stage between kids and grandkids is strange and unnerving but the quiet is so welcome after so many years of running around!

    Hubs and I do love to fantasize about being grandparents, I will admit that!! Can't wait!

  4. Susan-Thanks! We are beginning to get the hang of it!

    This-Thank you! We are working on it!

    Brenda- No, not better. It just seemed to stop so suddenly. I went from going all the time to STOP. But we are getting the hang of it-slowly but surely!

  5. I suppose it's harder for some people than others. We didn't have that big of a problem, but our kids were close by.
    Life emerges in stages. I think the biggest part is getting used to the idea of the kids not needing us. Well, only if they had an emergency. LOL I always knew when my son called if something was wrong - and I still know.
    Then they get married, and still don't need us - which is a good sign you were a good parent teaching them independence.
    Now, in our case, the grandkids came along - and we are suddenly NEEDED! What a job that is! Reliving your kids through your grandkids. We feel it's the best time of our lives.
    Oh, and when both of the kids were about to leave the nest, we got a dog. She died last Oct., and now we just got 2 dogs. Keeps us entertained!
    Hang in there. It will get better!

  6. I know exactly what you mean about the solitary confinement. My husband and I thought we would cope with being empty nesters by starting a new adventure so we bought a sailboat & learned to sail. Sound great, right? Except the lake is frozen over, the boat's in storage, and it's been a very long winter of solitary confinement.

  7. Your grandchildren will bring you 10x the joy your children did. Believe me. It's magical.

  8. I think the whole empty nest thing is harder on some people that others.

  9. Shirley- We're not ready for grands just yet! We still have two in college and we get to see them at least once every week when they come over for supper.

    Kara- Oh no! You'll get out there soon...I hope!

    Barb- That's what everyone says. We're just not ready for grands yet.

    Michelle- I think so too. I'm glad Hubs and I can find the humor in it all!

  10. Awww, that was a lovely poignant post. My little un is only five so I have a long way to go yet, but I can completely understand why it may seem empty when they go...... it's because you love them and miss their company.

  11. Annie- Thank you! Enjoy your sweet one while you can. They tend to grow up FAST!

  12. Oh EN... this post made me think that it is high time I stop wishing the time away. I often find myself saying things like, "When Kara gets married..." or, "When Alex is driving..." and I realize that I've done this all of my kids lives!

    I am so excited for their futures, that I sometimes forget to live in their present.

    I am going to slow down...

    And I am also going to check out that link! Thanks for sharing.

  13. I only have the one at home and im bored already.he leaves for the army in a month....I will have to get a hobby.housework is not a hobby lol

  14. This sounds so familiar! I ache for the times when the kids were still at home. My empty nest is what propelled me to start a blog and although the blog keeps me super busy, I'd give it up in a heartbeat to have the kids back.

  15. Our nest has been empty for at least 10 years, and I have to say, I LOVE the freedom and the peace and quiet. Sure, it took a couple of years to adjust, but now, I wouldn't change a thing. I have time to write, to blog, to watch tv til late if I choose, go out to lunch, whatever we want to do, (if it doesn't cost too much) we do!

  16. Jessica-I used to do the same thing. But no matter how hard I tried, looking back, it still went by too fast! The memories are wonderful though!

    Yesterday-You got that right. Housework is far from a hobby! Wow, the army. I would be a nervous wreck.

    Blue-Agreed and excellent point. I do have time for blogging!

    Eva- I can see where we are making progress and will come to truly enjoy this time.

  17. That was a really excellent post. I was totally in the moment with you because your description was so good. When I got to the end to find out that you had to use specific words (that were all pretty wide in meaning from one another) I was even more impressed. Wow. Right now a daily post just isn't working for me. We are leaving for Ohio on Sunday so that I can visit my dad. That is going to be a painful, cathartic, joyful, tearful two weeks. I may want to rip my own heart out before it is all said and done. So, I just don't feel able to commit to daily blogging. I am having a tough time just getting out of bed, to be honest. The stress of all this is really something. So glad that the scare you had with your parent was just that ~ a scare.

  18. I don't know what I'm going to do when my oldest leaves for the university. It's only a year away!And then my second one two years after that! I think maybe they should just stay home with the husband and I. Yeah, they can stay here..take over the mortgage and I'll be the maid & cook and hubby can be the gardener!

  19. I only had two children. Irene left home from Colorado to Florida after graduating and just three years later Erik left for the Marine Corps. Bud retired 2 years later, and our days have gone swiftly by. I don't think I took the time to dwell on being with an empty nest. Life is too short. But don't get me wrong, I still reminisce about the days when I was home with the kids when they were small...but those days are long gone and moving forward to the next day was my goal. Take up a hobby, volunteer, make a schedule to GO new friends. There is a wealth of activities to do. Boredom is also part of life I think.

    Oh and by the way, congratulations on the weight loss. That is supreme!!!

    Thanks so much for stopping by yesterday to keep me company...I always enjoy your visits, and love your comments.

    My Thursday Themesong Link Anni's Song

  20. Robin- Thank you! I'll be thinking about you while you're in Ohio. It's so hard as the parents get older. I want them to live forever.

    Envoy-Sounds good to me!

    Anni- It's going to be a while before Hubs retires. I did take up a hobby- photography. Tucker and I walk every single day and I tutor first and second graders two days every week! The schedule is getting full! And our college babies and a couple of their friends come for supper every Wednesday night! All is not lost! LOL

  21. My kids were close together in age and pretty much left at the same time for one reason or another--marriage, school, missionary work. Then they were in and out before finally moving out for good. Don't think I had that empty nest syndrome as described in books. Luckily, we are grandparents now. Unfortunately, they all live at least 7 hrs away. We're always happy to see them come visit--and usually happy to see them go home as well!

  22. Your post reminded me of exactly why we are here in Italy having our own adventure. I am sorry you have been finding it so hard to be an 'empty nester'

  23. Beverly- Ah, the ups and downs of an empty nest! LOL This second year has been better that the first one. We are slowly starting to appreciate certain aspects of it--like the quiet.

    Lindy- Now, if we could pick up and move to Italy---LOL

  24. The trick to the 'empty nest syndrome' is to have your family spread out over 20 years, and then when they're almost all out of the house, get dogs. ;-)

    My friends have been dealing with empty nest for years now and we still have a 22 year old at home. But this fall he's getting married and we will join the ranks of the real empty nesters. I am not looking forward to it.

  25. This was a beautiful post. I actually am looking forward to the day when my "nest" is empty. My sister keeps telling me to be careful what I wish for. She is awfully lonely now that her kids are gone. I'm glad I read this today.

  26. This was a very good post! Enjoy your quiet time with your hubby and Tucker! Once your daughters begin having babies, your house will be lively once again :)

  27. Judy- I think it's the quiet that took the longest to get used to. Now, I have come to appreciate it- especially when they are all home. LOL

    Chele-Thank you so much! It will be very different, that's for sure!

    Kathy-Thank you! We are getting to the point that we are enjoying the calm...before the storm of grands! LOL

  28. I love your posts. My situation is a little different. My son is 20 and still lives at home, but goes to college full time and works part time. He is NEVER home, most of the time at school and work, but when he does have time, he doesn't choose to be here with his family LOL. It would actually be better if he didn't live here. I could deal better probably. He could do what he wanted and I wouldn't have to know LOL. I have a 16 yr old, who is still here alot, obviously, but would rather choose to hang with friends, which I understand is very normal so I'm ok with that. The part I have a hard time with is just learning to do things not as a "whole" family. I feel like I can't let it go and just do our own thing, the two of us. We are 42 and 44, so I think we are too young to feel the "empty nest" but we had kids early so I can't change that. My son will be 21 in July and it's time I accept that the "family" just isn't the way it used to be and that's ok :)

  29. Veronica- Thank you so much! I know what you mean. It happened that way for us as the girls got older and more involved in orchestra, band, soccer, etc. and then when they started leaving for college. We just have to sit back and appreciate all of our good child rearing!


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