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Empty nesting
Old 06-16-2010, 10:06 PM   #1
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Empty nesting

I have a guilty confession: if this first week is any indication, I'm gonna love being an empty nester.

Our kid left five days ago for her big travel plans with a friend's family followed by a summer camp ("Happy Graduation!"), and she won't be back until 11 July. We've monitored sporadic reporting over her Facebook page, and no news is good news. Everything's fine with her.

But everything at home is even better. At first I couldn't identify what I was feeling, but now I think I finally understand: for the first time in over eight years of ER, I'm having a real no-foolin' vacation!

I don't hear our little nightowl coming into the house just before curfew, and I don't hear her earlybird banging around in the bathroom or kitchen at O-dark-30. I go to sleep, after four hours I wake up to roll over, and after another 2-3 hours I wake up well-rested. This is highly unusual. What's even better is that spouse is also sleeping more soundly, so I don't hear her either. I've had the best five nights of sleep in over a decade. Maybe three decades.

Spouse and I have been eating whatever we want with no regard for setting a good example. We cook when we feel like it, and we experiment with Nutrisystems & frozen dinners when we don't feel like cooking. We've eaten lunch out at our favorite places. We've eaten chocolate and ice cream (including chocolate ice cream) whenever we've felt like it.

Naptimes are unlimited and there's no scheduling interference from family plans or disturbing noises. Bedtime is similarly flexible, and reveille has been canceled.

Our whirlpool tub pump has run a lot of hours in the last five days.

I get to drive the Prius whenever I want. (Although I have been bagged with an oil change, but I plan to boomerang that bag job right back at her.) We run errands if we want to. We do the honey-dos we feel like doing. We have one or two events each day with neighbors or friends but most of our time is unscheduled.

I haven't been to taekwondo in a week and I haven't worked out, either. My physical activity has been yardwork and surfing and quality spouse time. I'm having so much fun not working out that I may decide to not get kicked in the head for another week either.

I've browsed just about everything on the Internet. I've spent incredible amounts of time in the recliner watching old Clint Eastwood movies and reading novels. I'll get up from a nap at 1 PM, sit down to read a little, and look up to see that it's nearly 5 PM. Same thing after dinner-- suddenly it's 8 PM.

Spouse and I have been trying to read the book "Letting Go". It's very well written, and it's a big help with a topic that takes many parents by surprise. But spouse and I keep reading passages to each other and snickering or even guffawing at the parents' lack of foresight. Didn't they see this coming?!?

It's been over five days since I've had to answer a question about the UCMJ, Navy uniform regs, Leadership & Combat Ethics 101, and whether the submarine force is a better deal than the Civil Engineering Corps.

I do miss watching our kid go about her daily routine and push herself in workouts. I have fun with her at taekwondo and I always get stoked watching her catch a wave. I like doing home-improvement projects with her or showing her how to fix a toilet. I enjoy taking about future choices & plans, and I always enjoy telling sea stories coaching & mentoring.

But parenting? Don't miss it a bit!
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Old 06-16-2010, 10:11 PM   #2
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What you are describing sounds a lot like "retirement" to me.
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Old 06-16-2010, 10:24 PM   #3
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Congratulations Nords, and welcome to the Empty Nester Club. Ours just came home after being in your neck of the woods Pacific Ocean for nearly a year. It is really nice having her home. I enjoy the discussion, the companionship, etc. Most of all, I like seeing how much she has grown up and matured into beautiful young lady. She is much more grateful for what she has, much more careful with how she spends because she knows she has to make her own money (and even likes to make her own money) now, etc. It is fantastic.

I don't miss the parenting part so much anymore. And now that she is back, I DO miss the attention of my spouse, and I do miss the ability to do what I want when I want (except for w*rk, that is).

When she goes back to school, there will of course be things that I miss, but there are certain pleasures of being an empty nester that I will enjoy having again.

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Old 06-16-2010, 10:31 PM   #4
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Pat yourself on the back, Nords. You did a good job, and raised a good kid to the threshold of adulthood. Now, your baby sparrow is leaving the nest and you can, and should be proud of what a fine, independent daughter you have raised. She'll always be your daughter, but she is ready for this and doesn't need you hovering over her because you have taught her well.

So enjoy!! The fun you have described is your reward for a job well done. And don't worry too much about missing her - - she'll always be your daughter and you can always go pester visit her later on.
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Old 06-16-2010, 11:00 PM   #5
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I'm glad you and your spouse are doing so well and your baby is spreading her wings.

Now, if you get to missin' her and wonder what you will do all day...drop in on the forum for a group hug.
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Old 06-16-2010, 11:25 PM   #6
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Well, I'm happy for you but it is a far different thing to see her go until July 11, than it is to see her leave the house for college, knowing she will never really be back other than for vacation and a gap here and there. And to see your little girl out in the big bad world where your curfews are meaningless and she is surrounded by mass binge drinking and more, not to mention hormone-drenched guys, none of whom are even remotely good enough for your DD.

What you are experiencing, as great as it may be, is not really the empty nest syndrome, it's more like "empty the nest so we can do a good cleaning before she gets home for good" syndrome.

I took it hard when my daughter left but kept a stiff upper lip for the DW's sake. When my son left, I just couldn't stand it - who else would I play catch with? Who would screw up every task I gave him, then make me laugh as I tried to straighten him out. I could go on and on. I was a basket case.

The good news was that after about 6 months (read one or two vacations home where I couldn't wait for him to leave again), all was good. The euphoria you describe set in for good. I guess I'm just remembering that the real good bye may be a bit more complicated than the "have a nice few weeks" kind.

But by all means enjoy it while you have it.
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Old 06-16-2010, 11:31 PM   #7
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We've got the girl launched. Now we have to get the boy launched. This will be challenging.

While DW and I have discussed the subject of empty nesting a little (skirting the heart of it), I am not quite sure where she stands.

I am all for selling the house and moving to an apartment or condo. She does not seem to be interested in that just now. Of course, perhaps the huge hit the value of our house in the market recently will have an impact.

Stand by for further developments (in a year or two).
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Old 06-17-2010, 12:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
I took it hard when my daughter left but kept a stiff upper lip for the DW's sake. When my son left, I just couldn't stand it - who else would I play catch with? Who would screw up every task I gave him, then make me laugh as I tried to straighten him out. I could go on and on. I was a basket case.
This is the way it was for me also. From Jun 1998 to Jun 1999 I fund myself alone for the first time in my life. Both my parents died, then 6 months later my wife took off, then another six months passed then it was time for my youngest son to go. Dios mio, que dolor!

I hated it that my parents died, but they were very old. I hated it that my wife left me, but she could be a pita. But I had no mixed feelings about my son leaving- I just missed him.

I guess in a sense I had other feelings- in that children are supposed to grow up and be themselves, and he was doing just that. So hooray for him, but hard for me.
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
Well, I'm happy for you but it is a far different thing to see her go until July 11, than it is to see her leave the house for college, knowing she will never really be back other than for vacation and a gap here and there. And to see your little girl out in the big bad world where your curfews are meaningless and she is surrounded by mass binge drinking and more, not to mention hormone-drenched guys, none of whom are even remotely good enough for your DD.
Lord knows I've tried to explain it with MTV's "Behind The Music" and YouTube videos, but she's got to learn this sex/drugs/rock&roll stuff for herself sooner or later. Assuming she's not on NROTC's academic probation.

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What you are experiencing, as great as it may be, is not really the empty nest syndrome, it's more like "empty the nest so we can do a good cleaning before she gets home for good" syndrome.
Now that I've had another beer reflected further upon the subject, you're right-- it's sort of like early semi-empty-nesting with training wheels, or "just one more month" syndrome.

But I think we're gonna make it. And if it just gets better from here...

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What you are describing sounds a lot like "retirement" to me.
... then "Bring it on!!"
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Old 06-17-2010, 06:40 AM   #10
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Enjoy it while you can, they all come baaaack.
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Old 06-17-2010, 08:52 AM   #11
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I'm going to side with Rich & HA . It was really hard on me when my children left to go to college . I worried about the safety of the dorms and everything else especially with my daughter . I still worry about her and she's married , an assistant dean of a local college , has her own web designing business and is a great Mother . Seeing how close you are to your daughter I think when she leaves for college do not be surprised to find yourself shed a tear and then back to enjoying empty nesting .
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Old 06-17-2010, 11:17 AM   #12
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I'm with Moemg, Rich and Ha...same here.

My daughter moved out a few weeks ago and I'm having mixed feelings.

Nice:
The hot water is now all mine.
I can be as loud as I want in the morning.
I don't have to face a grumpy person first thing in the morning.
The dishes stay clean after I run the dishwasher at night.
The kitchen stays clean unless I make the mess.
I have room in the frig now.

Not so nice:
My entertainment is no longer as much fun - I have to find my owe entertainment now. No spontaneous "let's go....." little fun things.
No travel partner
No hugs on demand
No one to just share little tidbits with, my dog doesn't care much.

I'm not really lonely, but, there's just something missing now. It's so weird when she comes to "visit". She's here for probably 15 minutes at a time, mostly to pick up more stuff. If those visits are any indication of how much I will be seeing her for the rest of my life, it sucks.
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Old 06-17-2010, 02:01 PM   #13
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With two daughters born 5 years apart, we were in continuous child-rearing mode for 25 years straight. DW and I were overjoyed to have time for each other that had been scarce over that quarter century. And I'm not just talking about the freedom from worrying about squeaky bed springs

The girls now have families of their own. Our relationships with them are better than ever. They seem to have a new appreciation for the sacrifices we made for them. Parenting one's own children for awhile will certainly open one's eyes to the realities of what some call "the world's toughest job". We have been fortunate to have them living mostly nearby, except for some temporary separations due to military obligations.

With DW now semi ER, we're enjoying more freedom to travel and to socialize with old friends. Don't feel guilty Nords. Enjoy this time with your spouse and watch your child as she grows into an independent adult and productive citizen.
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Old 06-17-2010, 06:09 PM   #14
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I didn't miss my son so very much when he went away to college in 2001, but I do now. I also worry about him for no specific reason. I worry about what he is eating, if he is happy, and on and on. He is coming to visit for a week in August and I am very excited.
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Old 06-17-2010, 07:17 PM   #15
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We really enjoyed the peace when our first one went off to school, but it was poignant--the little daily living changes in our house, like a new lamp in a room or moving a chair from one wall to another, made me think how they would all add up until she came back to a different place. And when the second one left? It didn't hurt much more than someone reaching into my chest and wringing my heart trying to tear it out. I still miss that one.
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Old 06-17-2010, 07:21 PM   #16
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Our three stayed with us much longer than is customary in the US - they all came back after college and left when motivated by relationships. Their Latin mother encouraged that and I enjoyed it too. We were happy they left but two chose to stay close by - the best of both worlds. I think we are true empty nesters now because we're happy when they come to visit and happy when they leave.
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:46 PM   #17
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I'm with Moemg, Rich and Ha...same here.
I worried a little about my son, after he moved out, but I still had a young child at home (they are 10 1/2 yrs apart) and was working full-time, so very busy. I was not working when my daughter, her spouse and our only grandbaby moved from WV to CA. My DH and I both had a hard time with them leaving. It just seemed like so much of the life of the house left with them. I can't believe that it has been 6 months since we have seen them. We are leaving this Saturday to go visit them and won't be home until 7/5/10. I can't wait to see them and hear all the laughter again. Our son-in-law is leaving 7/12/10 for a month's training down south and then leaves for Afghanistan for 6 months. We are trying to talk our daughter to come back home with her daughter and live with us while he is gone. They bought a home in CA and she hates to leave it for that long. I hope that they will come for a few months at a time at the very least. She is only 21 yrs old and is a tiny thing and our granddaughter will be turning 2 on 7/2/10. I worry about them being so far away and needing help quickly.

I am glad that you and Mrs. Nords are enjoying your new found freedom.
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Old 02-12-2012, 05:14 PM   #18
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Today is Empty Nest day minus 1. Daughter three (17 YO) joins her two sisters sisters in the Coast Guard. Of course there is pride and knowledge that this is the normal order of things, but the distance and duties mean less time with some of the most important people in my life. No regrets, just sadness.
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Old 02-12-2012, 05:57 PM   #19
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Denis - BIG THANK YOU'S to all three of your daughters for choosing to serve.

Our oldest moved into an apartment as soon as he graduated from HS. He stayed close by so we saw him often...about once a week when he needed to do laundry. That was easy. Our youngest son enrolled in a local college and lived with us during is freshman year but informed us the wanted to do something "different". That turned into enlisting with the Marine Corps so we became empty nesters when he left for Parris Island. The first year in the USMC was easy (boot camp and training) but giving them a hug before they board that bus for a deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan is pretty sobering. We were scared as hell during deployments but button-busting proud of his decision to serve.

Today, both sons live close and (we think) are on the road to establishing their futures. Are we empty nesters? I think so but it's not 100% yet.
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Old 02-12-2012, 07:21 PM   #20
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Thanks for reviving this thread. Hard to believe it's been 18 months! No empty-nester syndrome here.

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Today is Empty Nest day minus 1. Daughter three (17 YO) joins her two sisters in the Coast Guard.
Congratulations, sounds like she's already on the fast track to promotions! I hope she paid attention to their advice...

Here's a post that we put up a year into our own empty-nester "transition":
Lifestyles in retirement: Empty nester | Military Retirement & Financial Independence

Many of those lifestyle changes are still going strong.

Here's a book review for the college version:
Book review: You’re On Your Own | Military Retirement & Financial Independence

Three semesters down, four-and-a-half left, so far so good. She's waiting to hear back on whether she has a Navy ROTC submarine cruise this summer, and whether she's living junior year on campus or off-campus. She's already angling for summer school so we'll probably only see her for a couple weeks this summer.

She put up this Facebook post late Saturday night:
Quote:
‎"A lovely night, a lovely night..."
But I've decided that I really don't want to know the details. I know that if I ask her about it then she'll post another one like it on a Sunday morning...
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