The Semi-Empty Nesters

In the last six months, my son started college about a five hours’ drive away and my daughter moved in with her boyfriend. My husband and I are now semi-empty nesters. Not permanent empty nesters–just…semi.

Every time we get into a groove that works for the two of us being alone, my son will come home for a week or two or my daughter and her guy will stop by to do laundry and have dinner with us. Then the hubby and I scramble to make sure there’s enough food in the pantry, that we’ll be home on time to see them, and we always wind up going to bed while they’re still up, watching television or hanging out with friends in the kitchen.

There are perks, though, to this new phase in our lives. I no longer have to sit through television shows or movies I have no interest in watching to appease my children (I don’t think I’ll ever get the SpongeBob SquarePants theme out of my head). Creating meals for two adults, who usually aren’t picky about a quick soup and sandwich at eight pm, is a lot easier. No racing through a meal to make a practice or racing to get home so one of the kids can take my car to work. I sleep better since I don’t have to listen for them to come home by curfew. I only have to fight my guy for bathroom rights in the morning. My preset radio stations and the volume, as well as the position of my driver’s seat, hasn’t changed overnight.

Yet, much as I love that my kids have grown up and begun to live semi-independently (there’s that semi word again), there’s an odd sadness to it as well. I’m still not used to coming home from work to be greeted by only the dog. I feel guilty when I make plans to meet my husband somewhere after work without going home first–until I remind myself the kids aren’t there. This was the first year my son had a birthday where I didn’t bake him the special cake he requested. The house is too quiet. And too clean.

It’s our new normal, and what scares me is knowing that once I get used to this normal, the next stage will occur and I’ll be adjusting all over again. I guess that’s life. Right?


14 thoughts on “The Semi-Empty Nesters

  1. Gina, I feel for you! Before long you’ll have those wonderful grandchildren to fill the rest of the semi-empty-nest! Wait for it. 🙂 Best thing to ever happen…other than your own children.

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  2. Nothing goes as planned. LOL Just as we settled into our new, tiny, empty nest, our youngest daughter came home, had her baby, & reconciled with her hubby who joined her. We bought the money pit to accommodate everyone. Clean the house and you get to babysit for the next 12 years! And I thought the days of homework were over!

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  3. I look forward to the day I don’t have to drive my kids everywhere and feed them and wash their clothes and make their lunches and bathe them and make sure they brush their teeth… etc, etc. But I have a feeling I will miss having little people around, and all the hugs and kisses, when they are older and don’t need me as much.

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    • I felt the same way. I couldn’t wait til my daughter got her license so I didn’t have to schlep her everywhere. Then she got her license and I worried every time she left the house with her car keys. Once she hit 23, I started to relax. Then her brother got his license and the worry returned. My boy will be home tomorrow for a week and a half. At first, I’ll be thrilled to have him home again. By about Wednesday of next week the thrill will have worn off and I’ll be looking forward to sending him back again. LOL

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  4. I was in a dead run all the time the kids were growing up it seems. However, looking back on it, I realize that I often accomplished more than I do now. I guess that was because I was so organized and scheduled. Maybe that’s why I’m less so now. I just needed a break from living life so tightly wound.

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  5. Hi Gina. When we were living in the Pacific Northwest – before we came back home a few years ago – our grandchildren were with us every weekend as they had been for about thirteen years including our granddaughter’s toddlerhood back her in the east. So we were full-nesters at least part time well past the usual life schedule. I loved having those kids around but I do so get your comment on the Sponge Bob theme song and his voice too which could fracture my head at certain times of day. Plus the whole expectations thing – of sufficiently nutritious food on the table every mealtime every day and activities planned what felt like constantly and the mess in their areas of the house or the entire house really. Now their family has moved back east too and we see the kids more often. The same added expectations occur and sometimes it’s a struggle to fulfill them. Then they leave and the mess is cleaned up but the place is way too quiet and there’s an ache in my chest that will take a while to go away. This is the heart I think wanting what it wants then having to stretch itself to live up to the reality. Still it’s true that my grandkids could come to live with me forever if they wanted. But of course they’re way past Sponge Bob now. Blessings. Alice

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    • So true, Alice. My son is home and my heart is full at the moment. But by Wednesday, the thump of the bass from his room, the daily car shuffle (3 drivers vs. 2 cars), the friends on my porch til the wee hours, will all have me ready to wave goodbye as he heads back to college. And then, within a week, I’ll miss him again. It’s that never-ending cycle.


  6. Hi Gina! I’m just getting used to not having my daughter with us even though it’s been years coming—first with her gone in undergraduate school and now with her in graduate school out of the country. The holidays were hard for my husband, our younger son who had been quite close with his sister, and for me. Still, even given that recent strain, I’m looking forward to a kind of independence we didn’t have before. We no longer have to worry about being home, or not, as our various activities allow. Our son is still living with us and probably will be for some time, but he’s quasi-independent. He drives himself to school and most extra-curricular activities. He also spends most of his time with us doing things we all love to do. I miss my daughter, but the freeing up of plans has been a bonus!


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