Monday, April 7, 2014

Practice Week

Now here’s a term I loathe: empty nest. There are just too many connotations behind those words.

Some people think of the empty nest as freedom. Some think of it as bondage.

Some people think of the empty nest as activity. Some think of it as rest.

Some people think of the empty nest as a new life. Some think of it as death.

I don’t think of it as anything but change, and, as I’ve said before, change and I don’t get along so well.

The whole idea of an empty nest, an empty house, whatever you want to call it, makes me a little uneasy because it’s a big change. And it’s coming.

So I was glad that last week, B and I had a chance to practice the empty nest. My dear friend, Kathy, who also has a daughter who is Julia’s friend, knew I had to teach last week, so she invited Julia to go to Florida with them for spring break.

(Nice friend, huh? Everyone should have a Kathy in her life.)

So since Julia was beach bound and the other two were away at school, B and I spent the week at home.



Because in two short years, our nest will indeed be empty, and, to be honest, I have lots of conflicting emotions about it.

I often wonder will it be too quiet? Will I have enough to do? Will we even like each other anymore? Will I miss the girls too much? Or not enough?

I feel like I need Charlie Brown’s pal, Lucy, who gave 5 cent psychiatric help to get through this.

(As a side note, one of my friends, whose nest has been empty for a while now, wisely dragged her husband to counseling six months before their last child left the house. When I asked her why, she said, “I want both of us to be prepared ahead of time.” What a proactive wife!)

You know what? I didn’t die.

I won’t say I was thrilled to have my daughter gone for a week, but I didn’t pine for her, I didn’t cry. I survived.

In fact, my week was busy.

I taught. I got some things ready for a shower I’m hosting soon. I met my husband for dinner one night. It felt like every minute was filled all week long.

And the best thing of all? We acted really young and took a quick road trip over the weekend to watch the Blackhawks play an away game. 

(I know! Crazy kids, right?!)

(B had bought the tickets, thinking he would take Julia while I stayed home to teach, but when she got a better offer I told him I’d go if we could leave after class.)

It was spontaneous and fun. We talked for six hours each way in the car. We laughed and dreamed and gave thanks for our lives.

I consider last week a gift—a time to practice being “empty nesters” for a week.

You know what I learned? It’s going to be O.K.

The transition won’t be without some bumps along the way, some lonely moments, some wishing we could go back in time if just for a little while. But now I see that I also have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to.

Maybe with a little more practice we’ll be really good at it when the time comes.


  1. Shelly, I appreciate you so much! I learn from you and am glad to have someone wise ahead of me to see how you go through these stages. Thank you! My heart felt a little ache at the thought of that day coming, and ours won't be much behind yours. I am thankful for your thoughtful words and insights. Glad you and B could have a fun trip, too! Have a great week!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this. My "empty nest" is coming very quickly. Our son (who graduates from college in May and went to college locally so he has lived at home) just bought a house, and will be moving out in just another week or two. Yes, he will be living just a few miles away, but still, no longer under our roof. And our daughter graduates from high school in May (the day after her brother's college graduation) and she is going to college about 2 hours away in August. So we are just 4 short months away from being back to just the 2 of us. I must admit I don't look forward to it. Don't get me wrong. My husband and I still not only love each other, but like each other, and enjoy spending time together. But my husband is a farmer so he isn't in the house until late at night. I work full time, and I think the evenings are going to be pretty lonely for me. I know every mama comes to this time in her life, and I know I will be fine. I just worry so much about my daughter, being on a college campus and all the horror stories you hear. She is a great kid, and I trust her completely . . . its all the other kids I worry about. I pray a LOT. Thanks for sharing your journey. Keep telling me its all gonna be O.K. Have a blessed day Shelly!

  3. Thanks so much for your kind words, Carolyn. You'll be fine, too. :)

  4. Oh Robin, I so get the farmer thing. My dad was a farmer, so I know what it means to have him out until late at night with lots of long, lonely nights alone. But then there's also the winters with him in your way all day long! What's a girl to do? :) You're ahead of me, so let me know how it goes, OK?

  5. You know I'm right there
    with empty nest
    in three short years. Even
    with one still at home, he
    is so busy that we've already
    had some chance to "practice."
    I see glimmers of what you
    describe--spontaneous outings
    and trips and a a drawing closer
    as life shifts.

    Hugs to you....
    Happy Friday!

    xo Suzanne

  6. ...and everyone needs a Shelly. ;)


  7. I'll happily share some of my brood on your lonely days - since they love your house (& Thunder) already. It's hard to imagine an empty nest from where I sit, but I know the days are long and the years are short.