I love my life the way it is at this moment. I have one son who graduated from college and supports himself with an actual job, and I have another son who is a college sophomore, living only two hours from home. I work from home. I have the freedom to sleep in if I want, workout for as long as I want, not cook dinner for a whole week if I don’t want to, and most of all, pack a bag and take off to visit friends or accompany Jim on a business trip if I want, with no problem. Many of my friends who still have kids at home (which is about ninety-nine percent of them) tell me that I’m lucky, that sometimes they feel like they can’t wait for their kids to grow up, that they live vicariously through my crazy adventures.
But here’s the thing.
Empty nesting is awesome, except when it’s not.
The periods of exhilaration I feel when I am doing whatever I want to do—which is most of the time, and who could complain about that?—can be immediately followed by crushing lows: loneliness, a slight sense of having little purpose, and did I mention loneliness?
Not all the time. Not even half the time, or one-quarter of the time…but it hit me hard this week, having just returned from This Full House to my mostly-empty house. Jim has been on a business trip for nearly three weeks and although J was home when the cab delivered me from the airport, it was only for twenty-four hours until he had to return to the dorms. I’ve done this before, yet this time was different.
These feelings and the crying—oh my gosh, THE CRYING—that I have experienced over the last couple of days have made me feel like I’m having the newbie empty nester response I should have had more than a year ago right after we moved J into the dorm for freshman year. Why now??
I have no idea.
A sweet, smart friend told me that things happen in their own time and maybe I needed to process it all and maybe it’s not a delayed reaction at all but rather right on time. All I know is, I don’t like it. That goes along with being a control freak. Uncontrolled crying? NO THANK YOU.
That said and as you would expect, my plan is to try and turn myself around mentally and ride it out. Everything is the way it is supposed to be. My kids are doing great, my marriage is fabulous, and I am blessed in so many ways. I have to tell myself that this is completely normal and it’s only a matter of time before I’m back to my “old” empty nest-loving ways.
So while I struggle, I am keeping my eyes trained firmly on the light. It’s right there, at the end of this tunnel.