It’s time to partition off my life again now that my daughter, Sarah, has returned to school. She’s a sophomore now and you’d think, having survived my oldest child’s departure as well as Sarah’s freshman year, that this would be old hat. But Sarah was home all summer, giving me a taste of life pre-empty nest and spoiling me rotten by wanting to spend time with me—the little fiend! Sigh. And now she’s gone, and all I can say is,
Vaya con Dios!
Turns out, I’m pretty good at partitioning off my life. Sarah’s gone? Well, I’ll just close my Sarah box and put it on a shelf until she returns for winter break. Now that I’ve tucked away her box, the Work box just got a little bigger. Oh, and now there’s more room for my Blog box too! Josh coming down this weekend to see a San Diego Charger‘s game with me? Better dust off his box and get it ready.
By keeping myself organized in this way, I can focus on the here and now. Kind of like when Scarlett O’Hara didn’t want to bother thinking about what wasn’t right in front of her and said, “Fiddle-dee-dee! I’ll just think about it tomorrow at Tara.” Trust me, by concentrating on what is in front of me, and not pining for what is beyond my control (Sarah off at school and not here), I can find fulfillment in the present and in what I’m doing now. Empty nest, indeed!
Of course, I first started to brace myself for the empty nest syndrome when my first child, Josh was a mere six months old. He had awoken in the middle of the night, crying to be fed. While I rocked him back to sleep, this sweet bundle of a boy, it suddenly hit me: My son would be wanting to move out soon.
Oh, sure 18 years seemed like a long time away, but not to me. That was his “sell by” date. Do you have any idea how fast 18 years can go? Have you heard the expression, “time flies” or “gone with the wind?” How about “gone in a flash” or “later, gator?” (That last one has nothing to do with the speed of time, but a friend of mine says it a lot so I thought I’d throw it in.)
So basically, the only reason Josh woke up that night—and every other night until he was three—was because he wanted nourishment so he could grow into a healthy and strong young man and be fully prepared to leave me. His big goodbye. His swan song. Adios, amigo, it’s been swell! Later, gator! And sure enough, like clockwork, 18 years came and went and all I have now are the memories of my little boy. Empty nest, indeed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Thankfully, I have my partitioned boxes. A box for Josh, and one for Sarah. Another for friends, for work, for my dog, and for my extracurricular activities. There’s even a box for shopping. These are the boxes I’m using now. They are the sum parts of my life and I switch them out, depending on the moment. For these boxes keep me sane and keep me motivated. Most of all, they keep me happy.
- An Empty Nest and a Diminished Self (psychologytoday.com)
- My Words: Reflections on change from mom’s empty nest (commercialappeal.com)
I know this is an old post but it’s my first time here so I HAD to check out the empty nest tab. A box for each child to put on a shelf. I like this idea. Usually it’s men who can be more compartmentalized toward life. I like the ability. Great post. I’m glad I found you and will definitely bookmark your site.
Barb, it doesn’t matter how old this post is, it’s still relevant. So I’m very glad you came across it. Compartmentalizing is a great coping skill. It allows me to get in with my life without dwelling on that which I cannot change: the fact that the kids are grown and have lives of their own. So, thank you for reading, and Happy Compartmentalizing!
Empty nest. Yup, did that last year. Bereft for a week or two, but then I realized how much work I could get done, and how much freedom I had. And also that kids come back and forth, so you do get to see them again, after all!
I can certainly relate to this! (Thank goodness for that partitioning skill.)
Every time my elder comes home from college (from far, far away) – he stays just long enough for me to get used to his (delightful) presence, not to mention the dozen friends that are usually in tow. Then he disappears back to his “other life” and it’s withdrawal time.
I still have one in the nest (here there and everywhere), but I can tell additional partitioning mastery will be required. And before I know it.
It’s refreshing to see someone accepting their kid’s lives and not getting all mushy over it. This is YOUR time now. You must be proud that they can leave home and be on their own. You’ve raised them well!
Great idea! I would love a Sophie box!
This is a great post! Although it started to make me cry when you talked about how quickly 18 years went. I’m already dreading the day Sophie leaves me. Speaking of, you can always start a Sophie box too.
Wow…I’m impressed! My boxes all seem to be overflowing right now, so much so that I may need an autumn-style spring cleaning in the near future.
I wish I could learn to not pine for what is beyond my control. As a Type-A control freak, that is a lesson I definitely need to learn. 🙂