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So what do you do with an empty-nest?


Replies to: So what do you do with an empty-nest?

  • avoidingworkavoidingwork 766 replies20 threads Member
    For S2's last year in HS, I was very aware of my impending EN status and made an effort to enjoy every last bit of *his* last year in HS. The highlight was going to Mexico to build houses - something he had done all four years of HS. I do recall threatening to go to 'back to school' night even if I no longer had children at the school. At the HS graduation, they have one of the teachers speak and the speech included an image of a bird flying off. I heard it as my opportunity to fly off and experience new things and a new part of my life.

    Work has kept me busy (I'm really not very good at avoiding it). I continue my involvement in one of our community organizations. This is now my 2nd year of EN and have undertaken a major home remodel. It is exciting to be creating my home to fit me.

    My sons are still my 'pride and joy'. I am awed at every step of their lives and feel so incredibly blessed that I am their mother.
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  • pugmadkatepugmadkate 5824 replies64 threads Senior Member
    Melsmom, We've thought about foster care as well. It's come to our attention that not only are there a lot of teens in foster care, some of them are there because their families kicked them out after they found out their child was gay. That really tugged at our hearts. We'll see...it takes a brave, strong person to do it and I'm not that person yet.

    My son is a Junior and the empty nest issue is weighing heavily on my mind. He is my only child. In my rational mind and heart I cannot wait to see who he becomes as an adult and I want college to be a wonderful experience for him. In my secret heart, I'm afraid of facing the void of not having a child in my life on a daily basis. I'm not ready to be done with hands on mothering, which is the best job I've ever had. But I have to get ready.
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  • OperaDadOperaDad 2404 replies72 threads Senior Member
    After almost 30 years of wrapping my life around them, I'm not quite sure what to do with this new role.

    Get a full time job so you can:

    1) Pay off all the kid's student loans
    2) Pay for the annual vacation cruise you could never do when the kids were in school
    3) Save up for the kid's weddings and grand kids that will be just around the corner
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  • ingerpingerp 821 replies45 threads Member
    I am oh-so-delighted that this is still several years away, but I met another parent recently who said his wife "wanted to have a talk" when they're youngest left for college. They now have. . . um. . . sheep. Plus several herding dogs. Couldn't be happier. (In fact his wife wasn't with him because they had a sheep in labor. I told him I'd never heard that excuse before.)
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  • pugmadkatepugmadkate 5824 replies64 threads Senior Member
    ingerp, I love it!
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  • TNMom2ThreeTNMom2Three 72 replies13 threads Junior Member
    I'm sad but relieved to know that I'm not the only one going through this. When I opened this post last night, I was in a sentimental mood because my son had just been away on a school trip for a few days, and it was a little taste of things to come. While my DH and I have a happy marriage, he works in the maritime industry that involves a month offshore, which in August will make my nest VERY empty. (Yes, we have security like Ft Knox). My two oldest live closeby but are very content with their married lives and my DD works fulltime so the time with her child is so precious to her that she isn't one that depends on me much for childcare. However, the bright side..a new grandbaby is due the same week of graduation. My personal belief that God has perfect timing to distract me. :)

    I do work fulltime, Operadad, but cookieeater, repopulating is out of the question and even though my DH says a dog may be the answer, I think that's not for me. Since my oldest (from previous marriage) was one when DH and I married, this will be a new phase for us. Kind of like newlyweds, but without the "new". I have mixed emotions of how life will be without school schedules, and wondering who will take care of the kids, whether they've done homework, meeting their project deadlines, or someone elses laundry to do. And yet, I will miss hearing daily tales of what went on today, the endless explanations of what he learned in school, or even the simple thing of my signature being needed. Needed...I guess that's where I will feel that pain.

    But don't get me wrong, I am happy for my children. They've ventured down different paths and so far they are all happy. This last one, though...he was a surprise when I found out he was coming, and he's been my little ray of sunshine. A happy kid, with wit and charm...and to have him hours away will hurt a lot.

    My oldest used to be so mad at me when I wouldn't let her do everything her friends did, and her phrase was "you make me live in a BOX". When she had her first baby, she called and said..."Mom, I understand now...it was all about wanting to protect me, because I feel the same way." I guess at the end of the day, for moms it does come down to wanting the best for your child, and cheering as they take off, but hoping they'll remember the way back home.

    (If anyone is interested in a good emptynest song, this one fits the bill. )

    YouTube - Find Your Wings - Mark Harris
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  • belabela 253 replies7 threads Junior Member
    When my daughter first left (she's my last), I was so lonely for her but it abated surprisingly quickly. Looking back, the year leading up to her departure was much worse, it's the anticipation that gets you. Now, we're really enjoying our autonomy, and housekeeping is much much easier, especially not having to shop for food constantly. However, I still have that empty spot in my heart, which feels like a real thing, not a metaphor, but it doesn't really ache anymore (only when she comes home and leaves again). But, I do really enjoy my alone times. Especially since I still get nice long chatty phone calls daily. Now that it isn't about the dailiness of caretaking, I am really enjoying the loving feelings.
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  • pugmadkatepugmadkate 5824 replies64 threads Senior Member
    bela, Thank you for sharing that.

    A friend recently send me a song that should have come with a "have a hankie ready!" alert. For my son's graduation next year, I'm going to put pictures to this song. If I can get through it! I can't print all the lyrics as it's long but I'll put up the first and last two stanzas. There is a you tube video as well if you want to hear it.

    The One Who Knows (from Dar Williams' "The Beauty of the Rain")

    Time it was I had a dream
    You're the dream come true
    If I had the world to give
    I'd give it all to you

    I'll take you to the mountains
    I will take you to the sea
    I'll show you how this life became
    A miracle to me...

    ...But sometimes I will ask the moon
    Where it shined upon you last
    And shake my head and laugh and say
    It all went by so fast

    You'll fly away
    But take my hand until that day
    So when they ask how far love goes
    When my job's done
    You'll be the one who knows
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  • DejaDeja 539 replies12 threads Member
    It reminds me of a book I bought when my second son graduated called "Let Me Hold You Longer"...it tells about a mom always marking and remembering the FIRST time our children did this or that...but not really recognizing the LAST time they do something....

    Here's that book:

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  • 2collegewego2collegewego 2615 replies95 threads Senior Member
    Oh my goodness! I am sitting here in tears and my youngest is still upstairs. I'm not sure I can do this-- allergic to dogs, can't afford grad courses for myself (oh, how I wish!) and I'm in a dying employment industry. I've honestly thought of just selling the house, buying something smaller and starting over. I know the kids want me to keep the house so they can just 'drop by' but upkeep is too expensive and this house is filled with their ghosts.
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 41933 replies2267 threads Super Moderator
    This thread has been helpful for me, because I'm still in the middle of the chaos. My youngest is in 5th grade - her brothers are in 8th and 11th. I will remember what you are all saying when I'm pulling my hair out driving to the school for the third time in one day!
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  • jnrsmomjnrsmom 132 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I'm truly amazed at all the wonderful, sincere posts since i wrote last night, after TNMom opened this thread. I've both laughed and cried the past 10 minutes reading all the new posts as my wonderful daughter sits at her computer communicating on Facebook with all the new friends she will meet when she leaves for college in August, 3000 miles from home.

    TNMon said "I have mixed emotions of how life will be without school schedules, and wondering who will take care of the kids, whether they've done homework, meeting their project deadlines, or someone elses laundry to do. And yet, I will miss hearing daily tales of what went on today, the endless explanations of what he learned in school, or even the simple thing of my signature being needed. Needed...I guess that's where I will feel that pain."

    I couldn't agree more - that feeling of being needed will be gone. Maybe not gone, but it will be forever changed in how our kids will need us. sob....sob...sob
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  • MidwestParentMidwestParent 807 replies45 threads Member
    Found a lovely song recently that so reminds me of my children leaving home - even has a wonderful violin solo. Youngest is a violinist and I REALLY miss the sound of her dalily practicing! The song is on YouTube -

    "When You Come Back Down" by Nickel Creek

    You got to leave me now, you got to go alone
    You got to chase a dream, one that's all your own
    Before it slips away
    When you're flyin' high, take my heart along
    I'll be the harmony to every lonely song
    That you learn to play

    When you're soarin' through the air
    I'll be your solid ground
    Take every chance you dare
    I'll still be there
    When you come back down

    I'll keep lookin' up, awaitin' your return
    My greatest fear will be that you will crash and burn
    And I won't feel your fire
    I'll be the other hand that always holds the line
    Connectin' in between your sweet heart and mine
    I'm strung out on that wire

    And I'll be on the other end, To hear you when you call
    Angel, you were born to fly, If you get too high
    I'll catch you when you fall
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  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom 15911 replies347 threads Senior Member
    You could always do what some people we knew did after the youngest of their 4 left for college. They adopted 5 - yes 5 - little ones. I think they had 5 under 5. :eek: For me borrowing 5 under 5 for a day would have probably cured any empty nest syndrome! But to each their own.

    I hit the empty nest syndrome early because her sophomore year my younger one decided out of the blue to apply for the residential State math/science school. We were really surprised as she was a good swimmer and loved band and the math/sci school had neither of those. So it was more of a sudden shock and not the gradual lead up. I was pretty depressed and shed many tears most of her sophomore year at the though of her leaving at 16. For us College is actually easier as she is much happier (the math/sci school was not a happy experience, very stressful) and we can easily to communicate with her compared to the math school where they had little access to phones.
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  • MarathonMan88MarathonMan88 1269 replies52 threads Senior Member
    I was about to write something about the empty nester's role not being so new, that at bottom our kids still need and expect our love, support, and even occasional advice . . . but I never finished. My cell phone rang; it was DD's ring tone.
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  • gladmomgladmom 739 replies71 threads Member
    Our S is a freshman in college 2000 miles away, so we have the EN thing going. Believe it or not, he calls most days and my H & I have long talks with him on the speakerphone. I think we talk more now than we did when he was home! Those unlimited mobile-to-mobile plans are great.

    Yes, things are different, but he still needs us in many ways, and we are happy to be here for him. I had thought that I would have a more difficult time of it, but I haven't shed a tear since we said good-bye to him on move-in day last September. It certainly helps that he is in frequent contact with us.

    Our D is 21 and lives on her own. She calls often and sees us most weekends. So our empty nest is a very pleasant one. I very much enjoy the peace and quiet, the way things stay clean, the much smaller loads of laundry and the fact that our food bill has been quartered.
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  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom 24049 replies804 threads Senior Member
    "can't afford grad courses for myself (oh, how I wish!)"

    But could you afford to take a community college course, class at your local senior center or art gallery? Any such activities could give you a welcome opportunity to learn and grow and perhaps discover talents or revive interests that you'd put on the shelf while raising kids.

    Another option would be doing volunteer work with a cause or organization that you love.
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  • momofsam1momofsam1 17 replies0 threads New Member
    We too will be empty nesters soon. My DD is an only child, I had her when I was a teenager and we've really grown up together in many ways. I know you're not to suppose to be "friends" with your children, however it will be like loosing my child and my best friend all at once.
    DH and I will be alone together for the first time. That should be interesting! Not sure we have anything incommon except DD. I think we might take up golf!
    However, we too have talked about fostering. I love children and could only have one of my own, so I think this might be a good option for us. I'm not ready to be done being a mom.
    Thankfully DD won't be far from home. We will be able to see her often. (If she allows!) It will be the hardest when I go to bed at night and know she's not in the next room.
    Crying now just thinking about it!
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  • 2collegewego2collegewego 2615 replies95 threads Senior Member
    Northstarmom, I could although I don't think I'm ready for the senior center. (I'm in my early 40s.) What I want to do is retool for a different career. I had my first child in my teens. They've been my life. I do think for me, at least, particularly because I'm single, I need to build something new. I just have to figure out how to do that while paying their tutions. It might be easier at first to do something creative as you suggest. It may be a good bridge.
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  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom 24049 replies804 threads Senior Member
    Don't assume you're too young for the senior center. I started going while in my 40s. They had fascinating workshops and classes at cheap prices. Even some teens take classes at mine. They also can be good places for networking.

    Community college, too, can be a very inexpensive way to expand your skills and get the background for new careers. I've taken classes for as little as $60 a semester at mine, and have taken one-day workshops for cheaper.

    Another option might be on-line classes, which your local universities and colleges may offer. They just, however, won't offer the networking that you might get by going to class in person.

    To my surprise, classes and workshops that I took just for fun have ended up resulting in some skills and opportunities that earned me some money. That even included my taking acting classes and photography classes, things I never thought that I had much talent in, but things that have earned me some money!
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