When is a parent officially an empty-nester? Is it when they move out for good, find their own permanent residence, and leave behind a bedroom that can be turned into a sewing room or a den or a guest room? Or is it when the kids go off to college, so are living away from home more than at home? Well, regardless of the official definition, I certainly feel like my nest is pretty darn empty these days.
My one and only child left for college two weeks ago, and I'm still not used to it. The house is too quiet without the sound of his guitar drifting upstairs. It feels too empty without his friends showing up and raiding our fridge at all hours. My days feel purposeless without him making sudden, nonsensical requests, like, "Mom, I know it's 10:30 on a school night, but I just remembered that I need a shoe box full of sequins and a duck costume for Math class tomorrow."
Sure, I've been planning for this ever since he was born 18 years ago. That still doesn't make it any easier when I'm on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night and peek into his room to see an empty bed and a floor devoid of dirty clothes. My husband and I have been discussing this for years, too. What are we going to talk about when he's not here to provide a common interest? Plus, we've relied on his school concerts and plays for entertainment dating back many years. My husband and I are going to have to find new common ground.
I miss my son and feel like this is really the end of a major part of my life: the part where I'm raising a child at home. On the other hand, it's also the beginning of a new part. My husband and I are starting to do more things together – just us. We've discovered a new Mexican restaurant within walking distance of our house that serves yummy margaritas. We can now pick up and go whenever we like. We're scheduling more activities with friends and family, which makes it feel like we're not quite so alone. Plus, it's not like our son is on the moon or anything. He's a couple hours away and we can talk to, text, or email him when we want. I love checking out his Facebook page to see what he's up to, but please don't tell him that's what I'm doing.
I realize this is a major transition that moms and dads across the country go through at this time of year. It helps that some of my friends are going through it, too. And the fact that I now have more time to write is a bonus. So I'm offering my best wishes to all the parents out there who are experiencing empty nest syndrome. Maybe I'll see some of you at a Mexican restaurant someday soon. I'll be the one holding the giant margarita.