Empty Nest or Empty Heart?

I’m sittin’ in my living room with a drop of sweat minglin’ in my sideburn.  As I wipe it away, the heat and backache seem to dissipate but the thought of my last child headin’ off to college will not go away.  For reasons that are legit but hard to explain, my daughter Mary Catherine, her big sister Kiley and their mom Patti are headin’ off to a big ole party school about 350 miles away while I sit here and think of what time, fortune and some hard work has wrought.  I could have gone, but the joy they find in each other trumps the muscle and ‘wisdom’ I might provide.

This month I’m thirty years married and today my last child goes off.  I guess this is some sort of milestone day, but knowing there are more to come tempers the urge to get too emotional.  Two older children have left and returned, at least to our town if not our home (yet).  One got the job done in four years another in five +.  One cost not much more than a car payment every month while the other required more in legal fees than that.  Today, both are wage earning, stand-up, adult members of the community.

Which brings me to a random thought….I swear I can remember the first time my own father told me he was proud of me.  The fact that I remember this long ago emotion makes me want to tell my children daily that I’m proud of them.  Damn the karma of knowing there are miles of travel ahead and plenty of opportunity to fail.  The encouragement has its own value and I refuse to play safe with the chance to make my own children feel good.  This is not an advice column, but those readers who have kids who understand the sentiment, tell ‘em you are proud of them.  Tell ‘em today.  Remember how much you enjoy hearing it.

What really is an ‘empty nest’?

I was invited to post here based on the ‘Empty Nest’ status my editor thought would be of interest.  True, having Mary Catherine two states away will assure she does not show up unexpectedly.  But for those who have not experienced a child enjoying their senior year in high school, I will posit that parents are weaned off child rearin’ during that last year of school by virtue of the kids never being home anyway.  True liberation came to my house when prodigy #3 was able to drive herself to high school.  That happened over two years ago.

Will I now walk around in my boxers a bit more frequently? 

That would be hard to do considering my current affinity for light cotton and little else.  Will my wife walk around in her undies more often?  Uh, no.  So the first fantasy that comes to many pervert’s simple minds is not really a possibility for many of us.  Cheers and high-fives to those who will make my comment here prudish.  I’m just tellin’ ya about my house.

Will my daughter be happy or will she be homesick?  These are the thoughts that fill your head.  Will she join a sorority, maybe learn to fly a kite?  That would be nice.  What about the boys she meets?  I swear if she brings home a boy from Texas I’m sending him home, immediately (long story).

Travel? Dine out? Throw wild parties?

Will we travel more?  Yes… to the college town where our daughter resides.  Will we dine out more often, throw lavish parties and have frequent houseguests staying in the “Johnny Depp Suite” as our daughter’s bedroom came to be known?  Time will tell, but probably not.  But I know I will miss my youngest and bravest just as I missed her siblings before her.  But I don’t think I will cry.  At least I won’t admit it.

Allow me some time to wallow in this new status for a while and I shall report back.


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4 Responses to Empty Nest or Empty Heart?

  1. Cindy Brewer says:

    Tom, this is a beautiful account of your “empty nest” situation. We experienced this with Ben and OLE MISS! Our experience turned out well and the little bonus from Savannah was a true blessing!!! May your 4/5 years of this be blessings beyond your imagination and your costs be profitable :)
    P.S. Embrace the Grove and learn Hotty Toddy!
    P.P.S. Keep writing !!!!

  2. Jane Leonard says:

    Enjoyed your thoughts, esp the one regarding to tell your children you are proud of them! Yes indeed! Empty nest or empty heart? Oh empty heart(where has the time gone?)in my opinion. However, I am told, that an empty heart gets “refueled”, when your college bound offspring returns for many home visits! Time will tell. Now remind me of this in 5 years!

    Jane P.S. As the previous replyer said above, KEEP WRITING!!!!!

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