Approaching an Empty Nest

Last year about this time I wrote a hub about staying in touch with my teenage daughter. Twelve months later, the reality that I'm almost done with this "mommy gig" is sinking in.

The truth is, not long after that touching day at the mall, our "keeping in touch" time morphed into the 9 pm to 11 pm slot - just after her weeknight curfew - if I could pull myself away from the computer when she got home, AND if I could resist falling asleep on the couch.

She leaves for 10 days in France 10 days from today. When she gets back, she'll get her driver's license. And next fall, not only will she be a senior, she will be on an early release schedule and taking advantage of the free tuition for high school students at our local community college.

She's seventeen. Wow. And a remarkable, responsible, independent seventeen. I'm about the proudest mom you could ever meet.

I feel guilty some days, because truthfully, I'm not mourning this approach of the empty nest. Instead, I'm thinking about down-sizing and moving to the country. I'm relaxed, maybe too comfortable in the idea of my beautiful daughter as "all grown up".

My friends with slightly older children tell me it will hit me when she's really gone. They may be right. But I think I've had a slight advantage - her father and I have been divorced since she was four years old, and our 50/50 shared custody arrangement helped me get used to not worrying about her so much when she's out of sight.

I'm happy to realize I've already been doing the things that Psychology Today recommends:

Many suggest preparing for an empty nest while your children are still living with you. Develop friendships, hobbies, career, and educational opportunities. Make plans with the family while everyone is still under the same roof, so you don't regret lost opportunities: Plan family vacations, enjoy long talks, take time off from work. And make specific plans for the extra money, time, and space that will become available when children are no longer dependent on you and living at home.

I've got that last recommendation down, pat!

The article also explains that "More mothers work these days and therefore feel less emptiness when their children leave home. Also, an increasing number of adult children between 25 and 34 are now living with their parents."

It's true I've worked all of her life, so maybe that's helping, and since she has a second home with her dad, who as far as I know has no plans to relocate, I won't have to deal with the boomerang child phenomenon. In fact, since I'm going to be the one leaving home, she won't have a bed to come back to!

I think that I'm going to quietly (after this hub confession) enjoy this next year or so, watching my daughter complete her childhood. I'm sure I'll shed a tear or two at her graduation (like I did at her kindergarten graduation), but more than feeling sadness, I feel a sense of completion easing up on me, a sense of pride, and a sense of anticipation for discovering the adult my baby is about to become.

An update: I'm not nearly as smart as I thought I was. I still have a year before the true empty nest, but find out why my daughter's recent departure for France made me write a retraction for this hub and a more emotional exploration of approaching an empty nest.

Twenty-Five of Thirty

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Comments 11 comments

fortunerep profile image

fortunerep 7 years ago from North Carolina

Enjoy your empty nest as long as you know that she is ok. Although she could come back!!

dori


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

It is a life milestone, but it sounds like you and she are both prepared. What a lucky girl to have such a heritage and a chance to see another part of the world at her age.

Wishing you both the best.


TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio

While I understand what you're saying about looking forward to your soon to be empty nest, I do agree with your friends about it not hitting you until she's really left. When our daughter was a teen--we butted heads constantly, and although, I loved her dearly, I'd gotten to the point to where I was ready when she graduated and moved out...then the arguing would end.

But, honestly, the minute she walked out our door that last day--I was just lost, and heartbroken...it took me a long time to get used to her not being with us at home anymore.

But, I did find out that I really wasn't done being mom after all--she seemed to need me even more once she was on her own, lol...

Oh, and the moving back home thing? Doesn't matter if you don't have a bed anymore, as long as you have a couch--just ask my oldest son...lol...

Sounds like your daughter has a lot to look forward to in her future--I can understand why you're so proud of her!:)


dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you all for the comments! There's no telling what I'll be saying about the mother/daughter thing next year this time :-) But I am enjoying this stage for the moment.

I know I'm incredibly lucky, TamCor, that I only have minimal eye-rolling from my daughter. She's nothing like I was! (I'm sure my mom will be along soon to confirm!)


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

You have a very healthy attitude about your daughter growing up and being on her own, so I assume your daughter must be a balanced young woman as children do pick up their parent's trust or lack of it.


dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks, VioletSun - I have to admit, her Dad deserves some of the credit, too. I think we've done a pretty good job, all things considered!

Now watch her get home late tonight or something....all this bragging, I'm sure to jinx it!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

Dineane, my son is 17 and it only hit me 2 days after his graduation dinner. I spent the whole morning crying. He'll be with me until the 28th of June, then he moves into University res and starts his life as a young adult. I don't know what I'll do on that day!


dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Cindy, make a plan - do something for you - totatly selfish and fun! and then come back here next year this time when I'm a total basketcase and give ME some advice :-)


nutuba profile image

nutuba 7 years ago from North Carolina

Our first has just graduated high school and will be off to college in the fall. I'm not ready to see her go! Fortunately she'll only be moving about 45 minutes away. She's going to be missed though. Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful post!


DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 7 years ago from Central North Carolina

I didn't get an empty nest until the 2nd time around. Dineane, I have always been proud of you and thankful for you - and your sisters!


jami l. pereira 5 years ago

Voted up and awesome , my nest is almost empty ,my daughter has a revolving door , she come shome when she is ill ,(systemic lupus since birth) so im guessing she will be here always , and i dont think i mind because when she isnt here , its waayyy to quiet .:) thanks for the read!

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