8 Things I Do Know About The Empty Nest

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I officially have an empty nest. Both of my metaphorical “baby birds” have flown the nest and are happy and thriving right where they have both worked so hard to be. I have to say, now that I’ve stopped crying, the view from this momma’s nest isn’t half bad.

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Let me first say that it took a while to get here.

And I’ll admit I did have a practice run with my firstborn. And I did do the ugly cry on our flight home from London after leaving our youngest there living with a host family. But I digress.

Teenage son saying goodbye to mom in front of a train

The past 20 years have been pretty predictably unpredictable. Predictable in the sense that our schedules have revolved around raising, feeding, and keeping small humans alive. Unpredictable in the sense that there always seemed to be a curve ball thrown at us whenever things began to feel predictable.

If I didn’t know better, I could swear the “Head Game Maker” from The Hunger Games was watching from above. Ready to throw in a “lose a kid in a crowded foreign airport,” or a “head injury on the day you’re giving an important presentation,” just to add an extra challenge when things were coasting along too smoothly.

We enjoyed the newborn stage, then the toddler stage. Then we watched those beautiful baby birds spread their wings and transition into elementary and middle school.

We guided them into high school, like baby lambs to the slaughter, full of swagger, fake confidence and gelled hair. They officially knew everything (they didn’t), and I was officially lame (I wasn’t).

I felt the undeniable separation of this predictable time with them begin.

In hindsight, the whole process felt pretty predictable filled with unpredictable parts. The majority of our “free time” was dedicated to activities related to the boys and their interests, sprinkled with pockets of family time and travel whenever we could arrange it. We relished our precious family time.

Teenage son hugging mom before moving out leaving her with an empty nest

Which leads me to this new chapter — our empty nest.

Life before children is such a distant memory that I don’t even know who those young pups just bouncing through life are any more.

Now my tears are dry (mostly), and we’re settling into our new normal at home (mostly). It feels quite strange, and dare I say liberating, to have this blank canvas of time stretching out in front of us just waiting to be filled.

We’ve been married 23 years. Figuring out the empty nest is going to be a very individual project for us both.

Hot Hubby says he’s going to maybe meditate more (annoying) and wants to spend more time in silence with himself (even more annoying). But we’ve talked about taking cooking classes together (not annoying), and we’re already planning trips to visit both of our baby birds (exciting!).

So now we’re in this next stage there’s lots I don’t know yet.

But there are things I DO know. . .

  • I do know I’ve only been grocery shopping once this week! Seriously… and I might not even need to shop again for three more days.
  • I do know the house is quiet and clean.
  • I do know I’m not sure how I feel about it being quiet (the clean part I LOVE!).
  • I do know I’ve only done laundry once this week. ONCE PEOPLE!
  • I do know when we eat in restaurants I don’t need to brace myself for the bill. (Teenage boys eat a LOT!)
  • I do know Hot Hubby and I now meet at the end of our work days to catch up together without interruptions from the boys. And we can actually have a full conversation.
  • I do know there is less structure to my weeks and I feel a bit lost right now, but not in the bad way.
  • And I do know “untethered” is the best way to describe how I feel.

My heart definitely broke as I kissed my boys goodbye, but seeing both of my boys with huge smiles when we chat over Facetime warms my soul.

Teenage son with luggage leaving parents with an empty nest

Hearing them mature, share stories about their day, and appreciate their childhood home fills my heart with joy. It makes me think that perhaps the parents who raised them didn’t completely mess up this parenting thing after all.

Do you have an empty nest? How did you adjust to your empty nest?

This post and photos originally appeared on The Traveling Circus Blog and are reposted here with permission. 

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