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An empty nester’s back-to-school blues

An empty nester’s back-to-school blues

I have always looked forward to the back-to-school routine and beautiful fall weather. This year was an exception—I was dreading it. My husband and I dropped off our youngest child at the University of Illinois last weekend. Don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled that all three of our children are pursuing their dreams. I would not want it any other way. But when we said our final goodbyes, and he went back to his new home, the dorm, the tears started flowing.

I was anticipating being emotional at this milestone, but it is when I came home to a quieter and cleaner home that it hit me. We are officially empty nesters. For the past 23 years, I have loved every minute (well most) of being a mom. Now what? Little things would remind me of my children in their younger days. Like when I was driving to work this week and all the neighborhood kids were waiting for the bus in their new backpacks and outfits. Their parents were with them to celebrate and share in this excitement.  I was happy for them, but a little sad that I would no longer be there to capture this moment.

Ok, enough of the pity party. I know this is supposed to be the time of my life, and I will embrace this experience as a new adventure.  After all, my husband I have been planning for this time for years.

We have been blessed with good health, careers that we are passionate about and organizations that we volunteer for, which add meaning to life. We have friends and family that enrich our lives immeasurably. We have renewed our favorite hobbies including tennis and golf. We even bought a motorcycle (never thought I would do this) last year that we enjoy cruising around with friends to new and remote places. We love to travel, and now we don’t need to worry about the teens having a big party in the house. I also have a long bucket list: Take piano lessons, learn to paint, act, etc.

At times, though, I just remind myself to enjoy the quiet and just embrace this newfound freedom and relax. However we spend our time in our empty nest, in the back of my mind I will be counting the days until parents’ weekend.

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  1. Lisa–as an empty nester, I can assure you that you will not lack for things to occupy your time. There are days that seem even crazier than those when the calendar was filled with sports practices, music lessons, the dreaded group project, etc. And the house is definitely cleaner, less laundry and the savings on groceries can fund a wonderful excursion! And, it just makes those occasions when everyone is under the same roof so much sweeter!

  2. This was so sweet to read! As a student myself, know that we kids miss our parents and our home just as much. I am counting down the days I get to watch a Bears game at home with my family this fall! P.s. I would love to take piano lessons as well!

  3. Lisa Parro

    With two kids under 3 at home, it’s hard to imagine a future as an empty nester. But I’m sure you would tell me it seems like just yesterday that you were in my shoes. I know you and your husband will enjoy traveling and spending some quiet time together. Think of how fun the holidays will be with everyone back together.

  4. Thanks Linda. I definitely agree. The house is cleaner and our lives are full of new adventures. Thanks for the positive words.

  5. Mallory-we miss having you at Good Shepherd! Not a surprise that you miss your parents as they raised you well. Best of luck yo you at school and looking forward to seeing you again.

  6. Thanks Lisa-you are right-it goes so quick. I know you are enjoying your little ones-cherish every minute

  7. Thanks for sharing. I just sent my last one of three off to University of Wisconsin. Still adjusting-but it is nice to just pick up and do something without worrying about a party in your house!

  8. Thanks for sharing Kim. Congrats on your child going to U of W! You are right about not worrying so much about the parties…

  9. Debi Jordan

    I thoroughly enjoyed the four years mine was at college and now he’s home for a year getting his career in order. We can’t wait to be empty nesters again after having a taste of it for four years. We got a postcard in the mail the other day about getting tickets for the Christmas concert at Augustana and felt really sad that we wouldn’t see Chris pay cello in the concert but glad we didn’t have to make that trip again. It’s now time for you. Sounds like you are well on your way to enjoying it. Just think – he’ll be home soon for the holidays and the quiet will be gone.

  10. We also dropped our youngest off at college this year and can totally relate to your feelings of joy yet nostalgia. Although I am also excited about traveling with my husband and pursuing some new activities, I miss the day-to-day interaction with my children and going to their sporting events, dance recitals, etc. We are also looking forward to parents’ weekends with both of our children. Although difficult, we will try to focus on the positives of them having the wonderful opportunity to attend good schools and to reach for their dreams, and try not to dwell on the quietness of our home and how much we miss them.

  11. Thanks Deb for sharing your story about your son Chris. Very cool fthat he plays cello. I guess that was a good lesson to me in enjoying the moment. Since I wrote the article, I have been blessed with a wonderful full life. Thanks for your encouragement.

  12. Congrats to you Lynn for dropping off your youngest at college. It truly is a great time to focus on all the positives knowing that the children are doing so well in pursuing their dreams. Thanks and congrats to you on this new adventure.

  13. Kelly Jo Golson

    Thanks for sharing this Lisa. It is such a mixed bag of emotions – joy, pride, sadness….. I had such a hard time when my oldest went away to college. If I begin to think about my next one departing, I can easily be brought to tears. By the time my third goes, maybe I will be able to take your great advice – enjoy the travel, the quite and look forward to the next phase of the journey!

  14. Thanks Kelly Jo for sharing. I know that you enjoy this time of being a mom and celebrating your children’s achievements.. Since I wriote this blog, I feel that I have adjusted to this new adventure. Time flies-embrace every moment

  15. My youngest is a junior in college, but when she went away as a freshman, my granddaughter lived with us for almost 2 years; so this is the first year as an empty-nester. I find myself enjoying the other hustle-bustle of life and having time to myself. However, I miss the mother-daughter shopping trips and outings. The thing that was the hardest for me was not buying school supplies! Who would have thought?

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.