New stage in life — Empty Nest

My Favorite Domer called the other night and pointed out that his younger friends were gradually migrating back to Notre Dame for Band Camp and another school term.

And despite his beginning to enjoy life in the Working World, he’s verklempt over not being on campus. After all, this is his first year on the other side of college, and he’s discovering just how much he’s going to miss it.

I know exactly what he’s feeling. I’ve been having some of the same emotions.

Recently, I was at dinner when I noticed several groups of college students and their parents taking a break from move-in day. They looked hot and tired, but it warmed my heart when the girls gave one another squeals and hugs, while the guys clasped hands and did that chest-bump thing.

I miss that!

I never thought I’d say it, but I miss loading up the car with Domer’s stuff, driving to campus, waiting in long queues for our turn to move in, then hauling the stuff upstairs to his room.

I miss battling the weather (thunderstorms one year; high temps the rest). Miss the camaraderie of seeing people we hadn’t seen all summer. Miss the energy of a college campus and the promise of a new slate. Miss the football season. And the Band.

But most of all, I miss having my son around.

Not that he was physically here while he was in college, but because then, he needed me.

And now that he’s working, he’s trying oh-so-hard to demonstrate his independence.

His self-reliance.

That’s a good thing. We raise them to be self-sufficient, self-confident, able to handle day-to-day living.

But as we’re preparing them, nobody is preparing us.

For an empty nest.

Obviously, I wasn’t around my own parents when their nest emptied, and I wasn’t paying attention to my friends when they lamented their sudden new stage in life.

So I have no role models here.

I’m just winging it. And doing what feels right to me.

Like staying busy. Active. Occupied. Filling the “lonely” hours with work or a good book (not necessarily the one I’m writing, either!)

Staying in touch with my son via phone calls, text messages, email.

Reminding myself that Domer is capable and this is the expected next step.

But in that quiet time, deep in the night, I still miss kissing that little boy of mine good night!

24 thoughts on “New stage in life — Empty Nest

  1. All the best parents make their jobs (almost) obsolete. Congratulations to you on a job well done. Now enjoy some good books and bubble baths and all good things to your heart’s delight.

    • Thanks, Barb, I know you understand just what I’m trying to say! You’re doing a better job at it, perhaps because you’ve had a bit longer (and more kids!) to practice?!

  2. What a beautifully expressed piece of life, Debbie!

    Even without being a parent myself, I can feel what it feels like to feel what you’re feeling. And I know it has to be a big adjustment.

    Although you and I haven’t known each other very long, I can tell you are an awesome and loving mom; giving your son all he needs to be the strong, independent, and self-reliant gentleman he is.

    (((((((( You ))))))))

    Have a lovely weekend, dear lady!


    P.S And by the way, I LOVE the word “verklempt!”

    • Ron, your words are music to my ears! Thank you for being such a dear. Having had the outstanding mom you had, you DO understand how challenging it can be to be a parent. Everybody tells me Domer is lucky; I know I’m the lucky one, just having him for a son. Bet your mom often felt the same way about YOU!

  3. Rotten kids. Just when you get use to having them around and enjoying their company they go off and leave you and your suppose to be all happy about it…Did I ever tell you about my friends daughter moving 1000 miles from Chicago after college and she kept asking her mom—can I take this, can I take this, can we buy this and my friend was all—ok, sure, of-course and then when her daughter (on her last night home) asked for her mom if she could take her “hostess dishes” (dishes her mom seldom used). My friend said she looked straight at her and started yellled NONONONONO you may not have my hostess dishes–enough! I will never ever give you those hostess dishes.” She snapped. Happy ending, while she never said “sorry” they have formed a wonderful long distance relationship and visit often.
    I’m hoping Cole stays in the big city, but I know the best gig ever won’t last much longer and it’s sad….. ♥

    • Don’t fret, you’ve got lots of time to enjoy Cole before he flies the nest! Of course, everybody told me that, too, when Domer was little. I don’t know how, but time has a way of rushing right past you when you’re having so much fun!

      Loved the story of your friend, her daughter, and the hostess dishes! Domer, typically, didn’t want “anything.” I kept trying to buy him new sheets and towels, but he was insistent that he’d make do. Even now, he’s “making do” without cable TV because he’s too FRUGAL (or cheap!) to sign up for it. We all have our challenges, sigh.

  4. I hear you, Debbie! I feel like I’ve been battling the empty nest blues for years. They tend to resurface as each of my 3 kids moves on to new stages in their lives. But it does get easier. You’ll probably never stop missing those little boy days, but eventually, pride in Domer’s life accomplishments will become the more prominent feeling.

    • Thanks, Terri. Advice from one who’s been there always helps! Even a thousand books on the topic wouldn’t have prepared me, I’m afraid, as each case is different — and no one really knows how they’ll handle it until their time comes!

  5. One of the standing jokes in our family was the number of times I’d say, “I want to do it MYSELF” while I was growing up. Apparently this started at about age two, so you’d think the message would have gotten through by the time I was, say, fifty. Not so much. My dear mother always saw me as her “baby”, and always thought she knew what was best for me. Sometimes, she did.

    But it seems the push-pull of dependence and independence goes on forever. Ironically, the day will come when you’ll turn back into the dependent one, and Domer will be the one taking care of your needs. Right now, you’re nearly at the point where a terrific balance can be lived out, with you and Domer both dependent and independent. Enjoy every minute of it!

    • Thanks for the bleak picture you’ve painted of ME being the dependent one, one of these days! That’s certainly a picture I don’t relish, seeing as how I’m the one taking care of Mom right now and clearly aware of how challenging that situation can be. My late dad used to say every stage in life has its beauty (and its trials); perhaps I’ll just play ostrich-in-the-sand and focus on the good stuff!

      Loved the image of “little Linda” adamantly proclaiming her independence — I can so see that! It would seem as if you’ve found the right location for such spirit, too. Texans aren’t exactly what I would call lacking in boldness (and I say that with great admiration!)

  6. Oh Debbie, I know exactly what you mean, but you’re doing the right thing. Keeping busy! Finding new ways to spend your time. And there’s a lot to be said for texting. So be proud that you raised a self-reliant son, and not one that graduates and moves back home to lay on the sofa and play video games all day, waiting for you to support them. Be proud that you have an amazing son who found a job so quickly and is now contributing to society and learning so much. Besides, you can always visit him!

    • Ah, Monica, you DO know what that empty nest feels like, don’t you? Tell me, friend, how’s your daughter doing, now that she, too, has graduated and entered the working world? Thanks for the encouraging words — right back at you, Mom! Yes, I’d say we’re both blessed, very blessed indeed!!

      • Thanks for asking. My daughter’s doing great. She really likes her job, even though she works long days on team projects. And this weekend, as I write this, she’s in the process of moving from her apartment near campus to an apartment in the city, so she can be closer to work. I feel bad I couldn’t be there to help her, but Chicago is so far away and expensive. Luckily, I have a brother in the area and he’s doing what he can to help with her move. Shell be coming home in a month for a wedding we’re attending and I can’t wait to see her!

        • Although Domer’s a good day’s drive from home, at least he’s not halfway across the country! I’m glad to hear your daughter is doing well, acclimating to Chicago and her work, AND coming home soon. Bet you’re looking forward to showering her with lots of love and attention!

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    • Bless you, Kim, for sympathizing. The other day, a comic in the newspaper showed two parents with a huge speaker on the wall. From the speaker came a recording of the sounds their kid used to make while he was playing video games. The caption said something like, “For Empty Nesters missing their kid’s video gaming.” Reminded me so much of Domer!

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