Empty Nest Practice

youngstersI always thought that I would be okay with having an empty nest. I focused on the positives: less laundry, fewer mouths to feed and the absence of my son’s sneaker collection.

These past few weeks have been an empty nest trial run for me and my husband. One kid has already started college, going to summer session. One kid is away for a month at a friend’s house in another state. And the baby, who just turned 16, is on a month-long community service trip in Vietnam.

And I have to say, the adjustment is not going to be as easy as I thought. (I can see you experienced moms shaking your heads and chuckling at my naivete.) I’ve woken up a few nights in a minor state of panic, running through each kid’s name in my head and thinking about where they are. I’ve been sleeping with my cell phone next to my bed, just in case. And I’ve found myself watching a lot of TV, which is definitely not the norm for me.

So I’m getting an empty nest education. Learning what I am going to need to do to make the real transition easier. I have two years until the the youngest goes to college so there’s time to practice. Staying busy is good. Exercise definitely helps. As does cleaning out closets and throwing away AP Calculus notes from September 2013.

And focusing on the positives. First, that our kids are healthy and thriving in their different environments. And second, looking at all the benefits of having an empty nest: less laundry, fewer dishes, no fighting and being able to spend more one on one time with my husband. (Thank goodness we really like each other.)

I can’t stop time. And I want my kids to go out in the world and find their own way. They’re ready.

But I didn’t think that my heart would hurt so much.