One week ago we dropped off our youngest at university. It was a classic change-vs-transition moment. With a hug and a wave she was gone. One minute we were busy, daily hands-on parents, and the next we were distant, virtual, and hands-off. We suddenly acquired a new label: empty-nester. Everyone we meet expects us to be able to intelligently answer the question “How is life as an empty-nester?” The change was instant, but the transition will take longer, and understanding it even longer still.
The house is deafeningly quiet. The days’ plans are unsettlingly without disruption. Life feels eerily unchaotic. Pleasant and yet disturbing.
Focus on the positives, right? That’s what we learn from classic transition management theory. I’ve been accumulating a Week-One Top 10 list of things I rather enjoy about this new world. Here’s what I have so far:
- The clean kitchen at night miraculously stays clean until the morning.
- There are no near-midnight texts explaining “sorry, I’m running late”.
- The tidied up bedrooms remain tidy a whole week later.
- Spicy meals with strange ingredients are not met with whining and complaining.
- There were no school start-up late night emergencies this week — signatures, cash needs, project supplies, etc. — or if there were, I didn’t hear about it!
- Conversations at home no longer compete for attention with external texting intrusions.
- There are no empty milk cartons in the fridge or empty cereal boxes in the pantry with no mention of either need on the grocery list.
- The regular random deposits of shoes, jackets, bags, earphones, empty ice cream bowls, etc, seem to have vanished from the household landscape.
- Common-use household items like favorite scissors don’t mysteriously walk off without anyone’s knowledge of there whereabouts.
- Eating out is a lot cheaper.
I miss those guys like crazy, but it’s not all bad!!!