Ugh. It was hard to leave Alex at school today. For both of us. Our sad mood seemed more sad when we got back in the car and a blues song was playing on the radio. I was grabbing the tissues before we were outside the university gates. (Heavy sigh) Sometimes the Empty part of the Empty Nest is really empty feeling.
So, I have noticed that John and I have a bit of a ritual–things we do to shake off our blues. It started when we dropped our firstborn at her university to begin her Freshman year several years ago and has continued.
At first, we are sad and I am usually crying. We get in the car. Following a long period of John and I driving homeward in silence (less the sniffling and the occasional nose blowing), obviously reflecting on the depths of our missing our “baby,” we get to the first stage of moving on… The justification stage. It usually starts when we affirm how nice the visit was and how glad we are we undertook this trip to see this child. We then move into how happy we are that this child is so happy where he/she is. And, finally we get to the part where we confirm to each other how proud we are of our child. This talking ourselves out of or through our blues has always been helpful to us.
Next, we talk a little or a lot about what we have to look forward to in terms of visits. Also known as the “When will we see him or her again? Stage.” This piece, involving having a plan, has been particularly important this year since both kids have been away at school. I think all of us, the kids included, like to know when we will see each other next. Or, at the very least, when we will have a better idea of when we will know. So, sometimes we make a plan to have a plan.
Finally, we begin to talk about the business at hand. “Do you need to stop at this rest area or is the next one OK?” Then, although the sadness may linger a little bit longer, we move into the topics related to just us. This is when we might pat ourselves on the back for things like, bringing our bikes and spending the time when the kids can't see us due to their schedules riding around on rail trails near their universities, or trying out a new restaurant near or on the way to their schools that we learned about from friends or from some foodie program on television. And, that is where we are now. We are back home in our Empty Nest getting ready for the week to come. Just us.
Another View of Lake Brandt