Last summer after dropping her youngest for his freshman year, Ellen wrote elegantly about her Four Strategies for Surviving the Empty Nest. Because I often think of Ellen as my older sister (after all she is 374 days older than I am), I often find myself trying to follow her graceful lead. Though I witnessed her return to her empty nest with aplomb, I took my typical ostrich approach to the same situation last week.
(not college but so many of them these days do feel like a resort)
After dropping my baby at college, I refused to go home, at least for a few days. Instead I persuaded my husband that we needed a quick getaway ~ to the Homestead resort.
After all, it is sort of on the way home, and we really did need some transition time.
The Homestead proved the perfect spot (even in the rain) to lessen the bittersweet pain of this milestone and prepare for our new stage of life.
While I enjoyed the Homestead’s remodeled spa with rBr who serendipitously happened to be in the area, my husband took comfort in the familiar faces of the long-time employees at this family-friendly resort.
Occasionally I saw ghosts of my children running through the main hall in their younger days, but the comfortable and familiar surroundings proved a relaxing antidote after the stress of the prior weeks preparing to send my son on his way. Now is the time for my husband and me to start finding shared activities other than parenting. He won’t spa (yes, that word can be a verb) with me, but we did enjoy a mountain hike together.
As we were heading to the Homestead, PMB called with his words of wisdom for dealing with the empty nest, suggesting that we should expect to need about two weeks to adjust. In our case, I beg to differ. I have the feeling that the empty nest syndrome won’t really sink in for about two weeks, when we finally realize that this change is permanent. I’ve already made plans to be out of town then. No, I won’t be taking a round-the-world cruise. Dr. Peter LeViness at the University of Richmond urges freshman parents to not make any drastic geographical changes right after the nest empties. But I know I cannot sit in our quiet house for too long.
Fortunately, I’ve got this cutie who makes almost as many domestic demands as my son did.
He refers to Palmer as his replacement. While I don’t go that far, it is nice to have someone who lets me know daily that I am still needed. He’s just one more way that I am avoiding my new reality.
To our posse who are now facing or already survived the empty nest, what’s your survival strategy (and don’t say, get pregnant ~ that shipped has sailed)? Ellen’s coping methods include reconnecting with your spouse, speed parenting, virtual parenting and relying on your posse. I know I will utilize all of those methods eventually, but for now I still have my head in the sand. Anyone joining me?