So what do you do with an empty-nest?

<p>Sorry guys that this is not a thread about SAT's and acceptance letters, but it is the for people like me, the last one just got his LAST report card before graduation. It reminds me of a book I bought when my second son graduated called "Let Me Hold You Longer" 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 the last time we have to sign off on their report card. </p>

<p>My nest will be empty. After three kids and thinking sometimes I would lose my mind trying to get all of them to school functions, ballgames, and scout meetings, it will all come to an end. The other day I had to go to meet with a gifted teacher to finish his IEP, and on the way to the school I realized this would probably be my last teacher conference at his school. With three spread like I have, I've had one in the high school for 12 years. I've bonded with these teachers...I've been known as "Susie's mom" or "John's Mom" for so long, now that the last one goes to college, I'll probably never meet a professor or anyone that knows me by sight. In reality, I'll probably not really even know his new friends because they won't be neighborhood kids. Everything will change...drastically.</p>

<p>Sorry to be so sentimental but this is a changing time for parents as well as kids. Some still have some to raise...but some will be like empty nester. After almost 30 years of wrapping my life around them, I'm not quite sure what to do with this new role.</p>

<p>Anyone here feeling the same way?</p>

<p>You could repopulate the nest.</p>

<p>We move to the next phase.
FIL (90)needs more careful monitoring. He's in my home with spouse.
I moved into my childhood home to monitor my mother (92).</p>

<p>Hmmm. </p>

<p>Since younger S graduated from high school, I've gotten involved in community theater as an actor and writer (My previous theater experience was saying 1 line in a high school play), been an extra in a made for TV movie, taken ballroom dancing (had 2 years of ballet when I was in elementary school), taken ballet, jazz dance, gotten on the board of a local advocacy group, got on the exec board of my local political party, joined a women's book club noted for raucous meetings that sometimes include book discussions, gone on some meditation retreats, taken up photography as a hobby, including having one of my pictures published in a national magazine, have become mommy to 2 bad rabbits, and am in the process of starting my own business.</p>

<p>I now have the time to dive into some things that I was too chicken or too busy to do when I was younger. ...</p>

<p>TNMom - I hear you loud and clear. I have 2 - son is a junior in college and my daughter will be going 3,000 miles east. Not only is it emotional, it's scary! I think about how I will fill all the hours I've done things with/for them, and come September, then what? I teach 3 days a week (my 30th year!) so that will keep me busy those days. </p>

<p>This will be a good thread the next few months. I know the reality is slowly setting in about the empty nest. Many of my friends who have gone through it say after a while they became used to the quiet, the free time.......I don't know. I don't want to think about it. :(</p>

<p>TNMom-- I totally understand. I can read the emotion in your post. I am two years away from that very place. I have several kids and have had a kid in the public school system here continuously since around 1990. I was a teen when I had my first kid and I'm long divorced, so they've been my whole life and what's left of my family lives hundreds even thousands of miles away. But I keep telling myself that I had a life before they were born and I'll have a life after. I will have 30-40 years left on this earth when the youngest goes so I had better figure out something to do with my life! I know you will too-- and I hope you have a husband or relatives nearby to lend you company.</p>

<p>I am here too. I do have a part time private pracice but realized today that not only is S leaving but DH and I have around 22ish more years to live (I am 58 and he soon to be 60). THAT really put a few things into perspective. I still feel that I am suppose to "save the world". I am a true Baby Boomer and somehow I do think many of us thought that our lives would have a HUGE purpose beyond raising kids, having a good marriage, and working in meaningful work. I am not trying to discourage you but I am, also, wondering what else I might do before those 22 years or so pass by. (it is 22 for me as I identify with Maude in the "Harold and Maude" movie--she has been my mentor).</p>

<p>I'm a dog person, so when I heard about a litter to be born during the fall of my daughter's senior year I immediately asked for one. </p>

<p>He is now over a year old and the best snap decision I ever made. Even my daughter knew that the new puppy was my way of dealing with her leaving. He's turned out to be the best dog we've ever had. My husband, who at first fought against the new dog tooth and nail, is a convert. The other dog is also happier. </p>

<p>I also got a job as a docent at a small museum near me. The pay is minimal, but it keeps me busy and engaged in the community.</p>

<p>As my kids started their post HS lives, I made a major career shift from law to public health & am busy improving the world in my own way. It is very gratifying and keeps me very happy and busy, learning so many things, networking and serving people. It is fascinating and uses all the skills I have, including some long dormant and others I didn't know or forgot I had. I am grateful that hubby is able to support us sufficiently that I can go this route, since the $$ compensation is much lower than my prior profession, but I have no regrets. My hubby & kids are proud of this new career!</p>

<p>I just recently reached the mid-century mark. With the family genes, I may well have another 50+ years to go, so it's exciting to be starting this new career. It was honestly more wrenching to lose my younger kid to preschool than this younger child to college 2500 miles away. Maybe it's because I know how happy she is & how hard she worked to get there, maybe it's because there are currently so many challenges facing me in my new career that I haven't had too much time to think about it, maybe it's because she will be home for the summer, starting in May. </p>

<p>My kiddos both had a lot of chronic health issues and I'm ever so glad that they appear to be making lives for themselves in college, so the happiness outshines the rest at this point. Due to their health, I had a lot of hassles from their middle school & HS, so my feelings toward both are bittersweet. I think I'll really feel it more when and if the kids decide to settle and start their families thousands of miles from me. I have a lot of extended family (including my parents, sibs & their families) within miles of me, so that helps a lot too.</p>

<p>I switched from part-time to full-time work, so my schedule is now quite full.</p>

<p>And yet -- when we have slow periods at work where there's litle or nothing for me to do, which happens every few months, it bothers me intensely. I think that feeling useless at work, on top of feeling useless to my family, which no longer really needs me, is more than I can handle. </p>

<p>So I haven't really adjusted yet, even though my younger one is a college sophomore and the older one is now a graduate student living on the other side of the country.</p>

<p>I'm actually rather enjoying the empty nest time -- no requirements to make a real dinner, no one to remind/nag, no obligation to go to athletic events. I can do what I want to do when I want to do it. I spend a lot more time at the gym and have lost some weight. When they return, it's almost an inconvenience. Of course I love them madly and enjoy spending time with them, but they sure do mess up the house!</p>

<p>VeryHappy's username is somewhat reassuring to those of us with impeding empty nests. The second of our three went to college in the fall, and now the last one is in HS. I'm pretty stoic about the passage of time - it's the only thing that's certain in life, and it's one of those things over which we have no control - but it seems to impact my wife more deeply. When the youngest leaves HS, we'll have not been a full-time couple for 23 years and I wonder how that re-adjustment will go.</p>

<p>I'll be there this coming August. Somebody once said to me "you'll cry when they leave, and you'll cry when they come back."</p>

<p>Gotta get through that first hump first. ;)</p>

<p>I'm all over the place on this one:</p>

<p>I enjoy having time and space to myself. I miss her, but in a "normal" sort of way, off and on, nothing devastating. I have needed to begin expanding my horizons so as not to have too much empty space -- still working on that one, but I see the promise in it. I'm always happy to have her home but it's clear that both of us are ready for this new stage of life. But in the end, no matter how much we do, or how ready we are or busy we get, there is something irrevocable about this. They come and go, and they might even come back for a longer while, but that childhood is over and it isn't coming back. This is as it should be, but it's okay to be sad about it.</p>

<p>TNMom - I feel your pain! Our youngest is a soph in college and I am still trying to figure out what to do with this "new" life of mine. Someone once asked if I was worried that my kids wouldn't be okay without us. Nothing could be further from the truth. We just SO enjoyed the 22 years we were together as a family unit that we have had some trouble adjusting to them being gone. H asks every day, "Have you heard from the girls?" And, after we've gone to bed, lying in the dark, he often says, "Remember when we had girls?" Tears my heart out every time. I thought that the transition was particularily difficult because I was a stay-at-home mom, but my husband is a professional who works 12 hour days every day and he feels the loss as much as I do.</p>

<p>I was a HUGE volunteer in our girls' schools throughout their education, so I hadn't really planned to do anything school oriented for awhile, but last year a couple of friends said, "You really should be involved in the YouthFriends program". It is a program that matches an adult in the community with a student who has life difficulties in one area or another. The first student they matched me with was in the middle school when we started and then I moved to the high school with him when he started there. You get together with them just an hour a week, during lunch or after school, etc. and just talk. One unexpected bonus was just randomly bumping into all the people I had known when my children attended those schools. Now I am paired with a younger girl who is a student at the elementary school my girls attended - getting to see people again I haven't seen very often in the 10 years since my kids left the school. So, maybe looking into some sort of volunteering at the high school would help keep that connection.</p>

<p>I had 2 different answers. After my S left, we were young enough to repopulate our nest and have a D. After D has left, I found a brand new activity for after work hours. Otherwise, I would not be in a good shape at all. If you keep busy enjoying your life, you will not have time to feel sad. So, find something that you can enjoy doing on a regular basis. After saying all above, I would have a psycological problem if I loose my job which is possible in this economy. Job is still the greatest fun of all.</p>

<p>Last summer, I thought a lot about the empty nest when S1 was finishing his first year of grad school and S2 was heading off to college half way across the country. Then S1 came home for the summer and decided the academic life was not for him. S2 moved away (came home 3 times during the fall but decided not to come home for spring break) and S1 was still at home. He's working fulltime so we didn't see him all that much, but it was nice to have him around. </p>

<p>He's moving out tomorrow (only about 1 1/2 hrs. away) to a new job and his first apt. S2 may be coming home briefly but has a summer job that will keep him away and out of cell phone/txt range. H has a fellowship this summer that will keep him in Europe for 6 weeks, so I will literally be home alone--just me and the dog. </p>

<p>Fortunately, I have a very demanding job. But I agree about the dog. H may just return home to TWO dogs.</p>

<p>I received information yesterday about fostering. The dog isn't going to do the trick. Anybody know much about it? I just realized consciously that I must be going thru pre-empty nest. My youngest is a HS Sr, & I really don't feel done yet! Hubby & I will talk about it, he's always one for not rocking the boat and staying with the status quo, so we will need to hash it out.</p>

<p>I can't wait for the empty nest (oh, I know it will hurt) because I'm chompin' at the bit to go to college, too! Think of all those fascinating classes we missed because they didn't exist back in the dino era, or we were headed down what we thought was the right path at the time?</p>

<p>I'm lucky enough to live in a college town. But I might also do an online course or two. The offerings are amazing, and from Harvard to Berkeley and every campus in between, you can choose interesting topics across all disciplines. </p>

<p>If you're curious, just go to your own child's chosen college's website and look for Distance Education or Extension School or similar. </p>

<p>No admissions SATs! No ECs! But alas, no FA, either. </p>

<p>Thanks to all who have shared their ideas. This is a keeper thread--I'm bookmarking it for use in Spring 2011!</p>

<p>I just know that I've got to get a lot more on my plate when D2 leaves in August, or I'll not be doing well. I've realized how much of my life involves thinking about when D will get home from school, or how much time she'll be home before she has to leave for an evening activity.....not because I have to keep an eye on her, but because I do enjoy her company. I did learn with D1 that knowing she was happy at school made it a lot easier. H and I have been home together since his retirement in 2005; we probably could stand to get some more activities during the days away from each other!!! No more pets, though. ;)</p>