I’m tired of women (because it is hardly ever men, I’ve noticed) whining about their Empty Nest “Syndrome,” like it’s a degenerative disease- a time to mourn, fester in loneliness and abandonment. Sure, it’s sad when the kids go off to college, and sadder still when the last one leaves the nest. Perhaps you’ll cry, roam around the empty rooms, wonder just who you are now that you are not a “day to day” mom.
But the fact is, I don’t know any mother who hasn’t completely embraced their empty nest eventually, and usually they do so by Thanksgiving.
So let’s lighten up and stop making such a big deal about it.
Your kid going off to college is a good thing. It is time to start rejoicing in that empty nest, not wallowing in it.
Rejoice in the fact that your adult child is independent and competent enough to leave the nest. I know plenty of parents who, for one reason or another, have adult children who are not able to be on their own. They would give their right arm to be in your position.
Rejoice in the fact that your adult children will be back and will drive you nuts when they return. They may be back for the four days of “reading week” in October. They may be back more permanently after college. In any case, you’ll see them at Thanksgiving, when they go out for the evening just as you are going to bed, pile their stuff up in the kitchen, do three weeks of laundry, leaving a load in the washer and in the dryer. Within a day or two, you realize how good you had it when they were gone.
Rejoice in the fact that you have most likely done a great job parenting, and that they will finally have a chance to do the right thing (or not) on their own.
Rejoice in the fact that in this age of Skype, email, text… if they need to reach you, or you really need to reach them, they are literally seconds away.
Rejoice in the fact that you can now enjoy stress-free evenings with your significant other, without a panicked phone call or text from a kid who doesn’t understand his math homework or needs two dozen cupcakes by tomorrow.
Rejoice in the fact that you will have time to reinvent yourself- to figure out who you are (besides someone’s mom) creatively, spiritually, in your work.
Rejoice in the fact that your adult children will be able to follow their passions and interests with no pressure from you.
Rejoice in the fact that you will be able to follow your own passions and interests, with no interruptions from them.
Rejoice in the fact that you do not have to go to baseball, soccer or lacrosse games in the cold and rain, or sit through four-hour long concerts when your kid performs first.
Rejoice in the fact that weekends are your own.
Rejoice in the peace and quiet of your home.
Rejoice in the fact that you don’t have to worry about anyone drinking in the basement, or smoking pot on the porch.
Rejoice in the fact that you can have sex anywhere in the house.
Rejoice in fewer loads of laundry.
Rejoice in the fact that cooking dinner is optional. Enjoy a martini and ice cream for dinner while watching Game of Thrones.
Rejoice in the fact that you will add hours to each day–no carpooling, no doctors’ appointments for anyone but yourself, no games to attend.
Rejoice in the fact that you will no longer have a daily dose of teenage sarcasm (one of my favorites as my daughter left the house her senior year of high school: “Should I text you when I get into the car so you know I didn’t trip on the back stairs?”)
Rejoice in the fact that you simply can’t worry about their every move, because you no longer know any of their moves.
Rejoice in the fact that they will teach YOU so many things they have learned on their own—from pop culture, to healthy eating, to eco-awareness.
Rejoice in the fact that you can take over their closets.
And if you can’t rejoice in any of these just yet, have faith that you will …eventually.
And yes, we know you’re not going to like hearing this, but we’re advocating a little tough love here, so for God’s sake, in the meantime… stop whining about it. (And if you really need some additional help, we highly recommend reading From Mom to Me Again: How I Survived My First Empty-Nest Year and Reinvented the Rest of My Life by Melissa Shultz.)