That Whole Empty Nest Thing

It is early morning and the sun is blazing at angles I don’t usually get to see. My toes are still cold from waiting for a bus that was late, a bus that is currently taking my son to yet another ski hill on this very cold morning.

I’m feeling a bit bittersweet as I drive back through the barely-plowed streets towards home. It’s nice to be up so early, to see the rising sun golden on the blue snow, to know that I have a very long weekend day all to myself to do with as I wish.

But it’s also the first year since my son was 2 that we aren’t heading off to Winterlude, which has just started. He’s older, able to go off snowboarding on his own each weekend, to all sorts of hills, many of which I’ve never even been to. Of course that sounds more fun and more age-appropriate than lining up for 45 minutes to slide down a short little ice slide – the same one we lined up for 7 years ago – though I never minded standing in line chatting with him.

He’s having experiences that are all his own, without me. And so he should.

It’s good for him to be independent and it’s probably good for me, too. I’m proud of him, his ability to get on a bus full of strangers, spend a day with them, and come home with new friends and new stories to tell. Week after week. I would have cowered at the thought of doing that at his age. And now, I would probably be too lazy.

I know I will get things done today that I can’t always find the time to do. And I will do the regular things at a more leisurely pace because I have all day. And I will probably still run out of time, and will vaguely but not really wish I had just another hour to myself.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, letting your kid just go. I mean, I know he’ll be fine and I don’t worry about him, but it’s not easy in that big picture sense. It’s not easy doing the things we always did together, alone. And it’s not easy watching as he eagerly stretches his wings and starts to take little test flights away from the nest, no matter how much I might encourage him to do so.

Ugh. Parenting. Sometimes the only thing to get you through is a good book, a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate.

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8 thoughts on “That Whole Empty Nest Thing

  1. Oh yes indeed! That’s got to be the hardest part of parenting. You WANT them to be capable, independent people, but it’s a bittersweet moment when they actually are. A beautifully written piece that captures perfectly that dilemma.

  2. My kids range from almost 18 to 25, one is married, and sometimes it is still hard . . . every time they take flight, even just for a short distance, it is a beautiful thing to see.

  3. hm. so insightful. it reminds me i should call my parents more often. they can’t/don’t express themselves the way you do here, so it sheds so much wisdom into what they might be thinking as they too are empty nesters. thank you for sharing this.

    • I’m so glad to hear this perspective and I’m thrilled that you identified with my thoughts in this way. You know, I get so caught up in my own daily life and in my son that I, like you, don’t always think about the other side of parenting – I should call my parents more, too.

    • I know! I always wonder why they bothered to have kids. Nowadays, it’s totally acceptable not to so why bring them into the world and then not raise them!? Ugh. Slight peeve of mine.

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