The Ten Best & Ten Worst Things About The Empty Nest

BEST:

  1. Not worrying all the time about where they are. Even when they are home on break (this is also true for my eldest who has graduated from college!) I can’t sleep until I know they are safe and sound in bed. But as soon as they are out of sight, away at school, that worry magically disappears. I have no idea what time they come home, and I don’t fret about it. I’ve heard I’m not alone in this; it’s a time/space continuum mothering mystery.
  2. When I come home at the end of the day, everything is exactly as I left it. No piles of shoes and coats and backpacks in the hallway, no papers on the dining room table, no mess in the kitchen. Or, all those things, but they are mine, and they don’t bother me because I left them there. No blaring music, no crowds of teenagers, no incense burning to cover up other smells. Just an empty clean apartment and a friendly wagging dog. This is such a treat, I can’t tell you.
  3. The fridge is semi-empty in the perfect way. No tubs of cream cheese, no bagels, no enormous bottles of orange juice. I can fill it with fruits and vegetables and choice proteins, or fancy vegan desserts, or just bottles of club soda.
  4. The companion to numbers two and three is that grocery shopping goes from being a thankless Herculean task ($400 trips to CostCo followed by the job of unloading and unpacking, only to have the food gobbled up in a few days by children I don’t even know, who barely grunt at me as I pass through the kitchen) to being a sort of Mary Tyler Moore adventure! I breeze through the local shops, picking up just the small things that my husband and I need for the next day or so. I feel Parisian!
  5. We can walk around the apartment naked! We can have sex in the living room! Nevermind that we don’t actually do this. The feeling of that kind of freedom goes a long way.
  6. I don’t have to worry about people rummaging through my nightstand, desk, closet, or medicine cabinet, borrowing my clothes, using my lipstick, judging my sex toys, or stealing my once-a-year pack of cigarettes.
  7. So much less texting! I still text with my kids most days, and I love that connection, but I’m no longer texting constantly: “When will u b home?” “Where r u?” “Will u walk Muff?” “Has Muff been fed?” “Have u done your HW?” “college essay!?” “Have u found a summer job yet?” “No, u cannot stay out another hour” “NO, I really mean it “ Or the classic combo, which I must have typed 10,000 times over the teenage lives of four kids: “How/where r u?”
  8. No lost socks and bras. When the kids are home my husband and I are constantly “losing” these items..
  9. We don’t run out of milk for coffee.
  10. No contact highs.

 

WORST:

  1. No one around to walk the dog
  2. Missing hugs
  3. Missing watching them sleep
  4. No family dinners
  5. Not seeing and talking with their interesting friends
  6. Not learning about the latest music and shows
  7. No technology help!
  8. No one to give me fashion feedback
  9. Not knowing when they get new piercings
  10. Knowing I’m now officially old

 

Excerpted from Nina Lorez CollinsWhat Would Virginia Woolf Do? And Other Questions I Ask Myself As I Attempt to Age Without Apology.

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