Why Our Empty Nest Isn’t Empty

why our empty nest isn't empty_thumb

 

Susan and I knew there would come a day. That day has now come.  Our five children have grown up. They are no longer living in our home full-time. Because we knew that day would arrive, we were intentional about how we raised our kids.  While we were privileged to spend loads of time with them, and energy and emotion on them, we made sure that our entire universe did not revolve around them.  We made sure that we focused on our marriage during those 23 years as well. Sure there were seasons in raising our kids when Susan and I didn’t give our marriage all the nurturing it needed, but overall, we worked to maintain things like dates nights, little trips away for just the two of us, and relationships with a few other couples.

Even so, emotions overwhelmed me when each of our kids left the nest. I didn’t just cry when our youngest child left; I cried each time one of our kids left home.  Yet our nest is not empty. Here are a few reasons why.

We have each other. Because of our intentionality in focusing on our marriage, Susan and I are enjoying roosting in the nest together. Rather than looking at each other like strangers due to a neglected marriage, we are able to look at each other with a smile and excitement for our future together.  Now date nights aren’t just happening once every week or two, they are happening a few times a week. Now we are able to do more activities like bike riding, walking, working, and travelling together. Now we can dream more together. Now we can pursue our “bucket lists” together.

We connect with our children often.  As I look at our Fall schedule, it seems like we’ll see one of our kids just about every other weekend. We’re going to see them or they’re coming to see us. On top of that, Susan and I text and talk with them just about every day. FaceTime and Instagram are fun ways to stay connected as well.

We are reconnecting with friends. As our children moved through their teen years, Susan and I made it a point not to schedule much on the weekends with others. We wanted to be available to our kids. If they didn’t go out, we hung out at home or did something with them. If they did go out, we were here when they got home to chat about their evening or to just say goodnight. Oh sure we did things with friends, but we didn’t stay in touch that much with a number of friends who we enjoying being with. So, now, we are starting to catch up on some of those relationships.

We are serving others more. When our kids were in the home full-time, our time was occupied with them. Yes, we went on missions trips with them and sought some opportunities to serve others, but now there is even greater opportunity to do little things for people in need.

Susan and I are thankful that our empty nest really isn’t empty. It’s different, but it’s not empty.  And we’re grateful to be in the nest together.

What are you doing to prepare for that day when your children leave your nest?  If they already have, how are you handling it? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Frank

    This has been on my mind a lot lately, as our empty nest days approaching. I have asked myself more than once “now what are we going to do”, or “now what will we talk about?”. Our interests, hobbies and jobs have changed quite a bit since the “pre-children” days and I am fearful that we may find we just don’t have that much in common once the kids are gone. The good news is we still have 5 years to figure this out.

  • Tim

    Frank, you’re really doing good by thinking about this now. But you do need to work on it. If you’re not taking your wife out on a weekly date, that would be a good starting point. Nothing expensive, but a time to reconnect, dream, listen to each other. See how you can help her. Find out what she needs. Ask her about her dreams–then see how you can help her get there. This will take some time, so starting now would be wise. You may want to ask her for her ideas on the issue, too. Likely she’s thought about it, and her input will really help.

  • Ellen Coval

    This is our first fall as empty nesters. We like you put our kids first and loved every minute of it. I miss them. Now I feel a little lost as we have much more time on our hands. I especially do since I was a stay at home mom (work 1 day outside the home). I am finding it hard to make any commitments because I do want to be open to leaving to see the kids or go on vacations when the time comes so don’t want a full time job. Do you have ideas/websites to help decide what your next steps could be.?

  • PA Givens

    foster grandparents anybody have new ideas for it?

  • Frank

    Thank you, Tim. I appreciate the reply.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Good point, Tim.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Frank, have you sat down with your wife and talked about what it will be like? Maybe you could ask her about her dreams and what she’d like to do.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    PA, I’d like to hear from others who have been foster grandparents. Does anyone have some thoughts on this?

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Ellen, I’m having our team check on this…hope to be back with you soon.