Monday, October 13, 2008

Empty Nest: The First 30 Days (A Report)

Last Saturday marked thirty days since our last child left home (and sixty days since our second child left home, and 45 days since our third child left home).

It's no secret that I was dreading the day when this house was no longer full of the energy that had occupied our home for the past 24 years -- happy, energetic kids (and teens), their friends, and a lot of truly fun and connected family time. I dreaded the quiet and the lack of activity, thinking that it'd all feel too much like a vacuum and that it would be depressing and lonely.

I was wrong.

First, the past month has felt like anything "empty nest" because in some ways our kids have needed us more than they have in years. Each one of them has had to deal with some situation, from mild to severe, and Tom and I have been there for them -- which has meant anything from a supportive phone call to much more significant presence. It has NOT been a quiet, lonely month by any means. They're all fine, but the transition hasn't been as smooth for any of them as I think they were expecting.

Quite unexpectedly, though, I have really been enjoying some aspects of this empty nest!

  1. I love coming home to the same neat, clean house that I leave in the morning. After years of having no idea who messed up what while I'm at work during the day, this is a real treat! Even the towels stay clean and hung up!
  2. I run the dishwasher once every couple of days instead of once a day or more.
  3. We generate a bag or two of garbage per week instead of 6 or 8 or more bags.
  4. Tom and I have been really enjoying each other's company, in so many ways. We're completely addicted to this presidential campaign, which is great conversation fodder. And we just seem to both know how important it is now to be cohesive, look in the same direction, and just plain get along well.
  5. I have no guilt about "getting home to the kids" or working less so I can spend more time with them. It always bothered me, even when they were in high school and very independent, that I was often distracted by a demanding job and long work hours. Now, though, I make a point of NOT working on weekends when (if!) they're home, which means I can dedicate my complete attention to them. Not that they want it; hell, they just want to chill in front of the TV, with their friends, and in their own rooms when they come home!
  6. I love shopping for smaller amounts and at smaller stores, like Trader Joe's. And I love not cooking unless I feel like it!
  7. Did I mention loving that the house STAYS clean when I clean it?
Of course, I still love the vibrant, vivacious time we spend as a family on weekends... but I also like looking forward to that time during a relatively peaceful week.

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Jen said...

I'm glad it's going well, Carol. ;-)

Margaret said...

Yeah, Number 1 is pretty cool. Our older daughter has been out of the house for several years, but likes to get together in Seattle or come down here for visits. Alison is pretty far away in Bellingham and not the best at communicating. I miss that a lot! But the house sure is neat and there is so much less laundry and fewer dishes!

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