Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Myth of the Empty Nest


My friend Lisa has mentioned to me a few times that it doesn't seem like kids today really leave home the way we did. When she and I each left home, we left for good and never went back. Her kids are still living at home for the most part; one has "gone away" to college in a neighboring town and is back home for the summer, but I don't think that really counts as leaving home and coming back. My kids, though--well, both of them have left home several times and then reappeared on the doorstep, bags in hand--figuratively speaking.

The Wild Child has only moved back home once or twice; the Boy Child, on the other hand, has moved back home several times, although I suppose a couple of those occasions were when he came home from attending college out of town, so I guess those don't really count. The last time he moved home before this, I don't think he actually slept here more than a couple times; although he wasn't "officially" living with his girlfriend, in reality that's exactly what he was doing.

The first few times the kids moved out, I was excited and happy to see them starting out on a new pathway in life. Then, once they'd leave, I'd cry, sure in my heart I'd never see them again. Of course, that never happened.

I'm not sure there really is such a thing as an empty nest. Our little birds just fly off for awhile, trying out their wings, but before you know it, there they are again, back in the nest, beaks wide open, waiting to be fed.

The Boy Child is moving out again this week; in fact, tonight may be his last night sleeping here. He's thanked us for letting him stay and told us he's enjoyed spending a little time with us. We, of course, feel the same. Maybe our kids move in and out with such regularity just to get us ready for the BIG move that will come someday. Or maybe it's just because we provide them a safe and welcoming place to stay when things get rough. In any event, I'll be a little sad to see him leave, but I'm sure I won't cry. Instead, I'll probably sigh with relief, knowing that the house is "ours" again and that I can vacuum naked if I want to. Not that I want to vacuum naked, you understand, but I COULD if I wanted to. At least until the next time one of our little birds shows up at our nest, tired, hungry and needing a place to stay.

12 comments:

Lorraine said...

I think it is nice that the kids know there is a "safe haven" if they need it.....Mark is away for a few days with his girlfriend and it is sort of nice to have the place to ourselves...like you said wouldn't want to vaccuum naked but you can if you want...LOL....I think I worry more about embarrassing him than me....poor thing if he saw me shuffling off to the loo in the middle of the night baring all he may never recover!!! LOL....omg ...it doesn't even "bare" thinking about.....

Carolyn said...

Maybe if you vacuum naked while they were home, they'd stop moving back!? Just sayin...

We're going through this too. Our son has been living with us most of the summer, even though he has his own place near his school, which is only 45 minutes away. His girlfriend lives near us, so that's why he's here. It's wonderful to have him home, but so strange. Our older daughter will be heading to college in September, so we'll be down to one at home. That will be a huge change! It's a good thing we love having the kids around, I don't think any of ours will move out permanently for many years!

Colene said...

Thanks. I needed that.

DPUTiger said...

I was somewhere in the middle. Home for summers during college, then I lived at home for a year after graduation. At first I was at loose ends, but wound up working two (unpaid) internships simultaneously, but once I moved out for my first paid job, I was pretty much out for good.

Of course, I'm once again living in the house I grew up in, but that's because the Hubster and I bought it! The parentals now live about a mile away in a kick-ass condo that they love. :)

Thimbleanna said...

What a fun post Kim! We're living that scenario as you speak -- the newlyweds keep coming back 'cause they don't have cable or internet in their temporary little apt. They're moving away at the end of the month though, so it will be more permanent. Then I might actually attempt to clean the house LOL!

yellowfarmhouse said...

It's always a wonderful change when the kids are home - but I must say that I've become used to just having hubs to pick up after, LOL and find that's enough.

Hugs - Karen

G'G'ma said...

I know things are different now-a-days. I left home at 19, got a job and an apartment. Got married at 20. In the 50's if you were old enough to get married...that was it...you and husband were on your own. You weren't playing "house"!!

debijeanm said...

That's why they call it the "boomerang" generation.

Ours left and came back (the second is still here) because they just can't afford to live away yet. And I can't bring myself to say "get out and stay out." I hate the idea of my beautiful, brilliant, talented boys getting stuck in some job they hate just because they have to pay enormous SoCA rents.

BusyLittleQuilter said...

I think it's great, too. It just shows what great parents you are, and that your kids feel comfortable around you. I think everyone needs a safe haven.

A couple of weeks ago my daughter was at work when one of her coworkers had a severe panic attack. No one was able to take her home due to company policy. Laura called me to see if I would come get this girl and take her home. Well, I did. Bless her heart. She has two children, works full time, the father isn't in the picture, and had had an arugument with her mother earlier that morning. After I left her she had to be rushed to the hospital because she was having a nervous breakdown.

I think with gas prices, high food prices, stress at work and at home, more and more people are going to find that their grown children are having problems making ends meet.
For me, I would rather be there for my child making sure that they have food and shelter, than worry about them. Our philosophy is that if our kids are working, are respectful to us, and are doing good things, then we will bend over backwards to help if they really need it.

Purple Pam said...

What a big project to take on...quilting a king size quilt. I assume you are doing it on your home sewing machine, not a long arm. Good luck with your deadline.

Crazy for Primitive Quilts & Gardens said...

Speaking as head nest mother... yup, I agree 100%. Middle baby bird has returned and left once now. Waiting for biggest bird to come back someday as I don't see her current venture being too stable as of late, lol. I will just spread the ole wings and welcome them back.

quiltmom said...

Hi Kim,
I have just returned from visiting my parents for 5 days. It was a lovely visit and we enjoyed each other's company but it is also nice to return to my own space and I am sure they are enjoying having their house to themselves again. As a parent of a 20 year old I can certainly relate to your comments. Our son still lives at home and we will try and help him get his wings so that he is comfortable flying on his own. It is a challenge because of the cost of things. I expect that he will move away and come home again - probably more than once or twice. LOL...
Regards,
Anna