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Enjoying your empty nest

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We’re empty nesters!

We said this when our sons left for college, when they returned to college and then again when they left home. Apparently none of it was true. Turns out it was a empty nest false positive. They really weren’t gone. They were in college, getting established in careers and renting apartments. Their stuff was still at my house and I knew at least one of them would be home for a holiday stay or college break. They hadn’t really left. Well, not permanently anyway.,

They all came back at one time or another. Always for holidays and often to visit. Sometimes they came and stayed. Moving home temporarily happened between moves or jobs and sometimes it was because a job brought them to the area. Recently our youngest son returned home to finish law school online. We didn’t see that one coming but did anyone see 2020 coming? The pandemic forced him home. I told him that I was so sorry he lost his last semester of school, his graduation and his normal bar exam to COVID. I also told him that having him home for five months was a gift. And I meant it. And then it was time for him to leave, too.

It’s Now Official

So, my sons are adults. They are grownups. They have their own homes, jobs and their own lives. My oldest is now a husband to his beautiful wife. They have two dogs, a new home and are building their life together. My middle son owns a business, a home and a dog. He is busy and the world is wide open for him. My youngest has started his legal career, is buying a home, survived all that the pandemic threw at him and is off to a great start. I’m proud of them and I adore them. But it’s time to face the facts. They stuck to the plan. They are grown, educated and on their own. They’ve done exactly what we hoped and prayed that they would do.

So, we are officially empty nesters. For real. I can’t say that I’m actually sad about this. It was the plan but I do miss them. Sometimes a lot. They turned out to be really fun guys and I love being around them. I miss them when they aren’t with me. Normal, right? And lucky, I know. Still, my empty nest is a little lonely sometimes.

A little loneliness is a small price to pay to have kids who turned out well and are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Still, I need to remind myself that this was indeed the plan and we should be thrilled that it was successful. If you’ve read anything I’ve written like Ten Things You Need to Tell Your Adult Children you know I like lists. So I’ve made a list of reminders for when I get a little lonely and forget how fortunate I am.

How to add more fun to my empty nest:

If I miss someone, I need to reach out to them. I mean, it’s 2021. We can text, Facetime, Zoom, phone and email people immediately. Spending time in isolation hasn’t done much for my social skills and I need this reminder.

I have friends. Honestly, this past year has me almost believing that I don’t have any friends. I need to reach out to them more often.

My kids have their own lives. I am so thankful to be a part of their lives. And they will always be front and center in my life. But I need to be able to function on my own. Plan fun activities with my hubby. Accept invitations. Extend invitations. Travel when we can.

It’s not easy to make friends when you’re retired and your kids are grown. I know this so I need to remember it and make an effort to be friendly. I have met friends at yoga and even sitting in a restaurant. We sometimes sit at the bar to eat for easier access to conversation. It’s fun and will often get you seated faster.

Do something for someone else. For the first time in a long time I have time to actually think about myself. This is great for purposes of health, exercise and diet. I’m also enjoying hobbies that were ignored for decades and projects abandoned long ago. Volunteer for something you’re passionate about. It’s not all about me and my empty nest.

Make the effort. This may be as simple as getting out of bed at a reasonable hour and showering (don’t judge me, I worked a long time to be able to retire). Maybe it’s making a nice dinner for just the two of us even though my husband says he’s happy with paper plates and leftovers. Sure, I can have a lazy-do-nothing day every once in a while but they never make me feel as good as a productive day does.

Finally, I need to count my blessings. Every day. We are healthy and have much to be thankful for. I never want to forget this.

Simple? Maybe. Our lives are complicated. Families are complicated. Make it as simple as you can and enjoy as much of it as you can. Sometimes we just need a simple reminder.

Enjoy your empty nest! I know I will.

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