The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 14, 2000


Carlisle Comments: Empty nest

I've been hearing about this "Empty Nest" syndrome for most of my life, and never gave it much thought, except to think it was rather silly. Well, now it has happened to me. And you know what? It's real. My goodness, what a revelation. Suddenly, after more than thirty years, my husband and I are once again alone in the house. Bear in mind that the last time that happened, we managed to start a family.

Now, don't get me wrong. Although the nestlings have flown, their presence is still very strong. Our nest is still full of their feathers. I am beginning to understand my father's continual, "Why don't you take this home with you?" My goodness, are these words coming out of my mouth too? You bet they are, and I'll bet that you other empty nesters have been saying the same thing.

Our children leave, taking only themselves and their newest belongings. They leave behind until "later" tons of their "stuff." I have spent all these years happily sharing my stuff with them, and now, those seem to be just the items that they would like to take away. No, no, no. It's our turn to have our stuff all to ourselves. This is a whole new thought to them. It certainly was to me when I was their age and thought I not only needed, but ought to have my choice of my father's stuff.

Now we love our children, just as our parents loved us; we loved all the time they were with us and we love to have them come over and visit. But couldn't they just take something of their own with them each time they leave? All I could think of when the last child left was, "Boy, I will have a room for my computer and genealogy material and a place to do my own thing. My husband will have a place to put all of his boat stuff and get it out of the bedroom." How naive. I never considered all of the feathers that fledglings leave behind.

While our children are starting a whole new life, so are we. After cooking for a family, cooking for two seems to take some doing. I managed to do it at the beginning of our marriage, so I guess I'll get the hang of it again. "Last one in locks the door," that's us now. Who is going to take out the trash? Me! Is the telephone broken? It doesn't ring like it used to, but when it does, it's for me! We go out for breakfast now, imagine that. Sometimes I come home and am greeted with, "Where were you, Mom?" "Why aren't you at home like you always were?"

Guess what? Mom and Dad have a separate life too. No more taking phone messages, no more wondering where our children are and what time they are coming home. And there is a lot less laundry. No one borrows the car or hogs the phone, or leaves without saying goodbye, and comes home way too late. "Hi, Mom, what's for dinner?" no longer means that someone has just come through the door; it now means that someone is planning to come over and is about to come through the door. They are still hungry.

Is my life any different from yours? I think we have all been in this boat at one time or another, and we just have to accept and adjust to the situation. I am sure that, if and when I finally do get all of my space back, I will miss their stuff just as I miss them.

The truth of the matter is that I really don't mind at all. I still have high hopes of space and time but cling to the reminders of days gone by and little boys playing with all their stuff.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito