Empty Nesting Lite

slice of life updated

“It’s empty nesting lite,” I tell people, half apologetically, and with only thinly disguised delight. I try to keep my smile this side of an all out grin. But, it’s true. When you have a child who attends a university just 15 minutes from home, it is empty nesting lite.

The night before my youngest moved into her dorm, I admit, I was beside myself. The impending reality of both girls’ being away at school settled over me like a cold, heavy fog. I fought tears all evening as we packed her bags, and stuffed the car (for the 15 minute drive!). I had no idea what to expect, other than deafening silence at home.

I made a few ground rules for myself:

  1. Wait for her to ask to get together- don’t initiate plans. And if she doesn’t ask, remember there’s always fall break, parents’ weekend, and winter holidays.
  2. Do not text her after you listen to the local crime report on the morning or evening news, just to be sure she is ok.
  3. Do not go anywhere near her dorm (which is 5 minutes from the school where I teach) unless she has given you a reason to do so.
  4.  Pretend she is far, far away.

I wasn’t sure if my heart would break into a thousand pieces, but I was determined to give her space.

She settled in to dorm living, began rigorous classes, found new friends, and discovered parts of her hometown she never knew.

And… much to my delight, before long, she texted and asked if she could come home for dinner. And not long after that, she asked me to have coffee with her one afternoon. We met for last, late summer pedicures one Saturday. And yesterday she came home to do her laundry and get some cold weather clothes.

We took a long walk on our country road, and talked about everything from dirty dorm bathrooms, to long reading assignments. And after her laundry was dry and folded and back in her bags, we packed everything in the car and went out for burgers before she went back to school.

Empty nesting lite. I like it. Not apologizing.

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7 thoughts on “Empty Nesting Lite

  1. I so loved this post. I understand what you are saying…My oldest is in her first year but living in town with teammates. I cherish the moments we have together…You said it so well.


  2. Love how you set up these ground rules. I love having my daughter and husband 20 minutes away after years of having them in UT, OR, and NY. And now that I’m retired, we do Costco runs together! Next year, they become parents and I get to be grandma for the 2nd time!


  3. I tell my friends that every age with our children is great! Mine now are 25 and 28. I do love it when they call unexpectedly, come home (and bring laundry) and now we can go to Happy Hour together! Enjoy your empty nest. It sounds pretty great!!


  4. I love this so much. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the “baby stage” which I miss, since my kids are now 6 and nearing 4. Yet….I would miss the little people they are becoming if they were babies again. I only hope that when my kids are your daughter’s age, we can be friends like you two are. Sounds so lovely.


  5. Sounds like you have created a wonderful balance. My girl went to college across the country from where we live! We had to work out boundaries and ways of connecting. I have a little pang of envy reading about your situation. Enjoy!


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