Slice of Life Tuesday: Preparing for an Empty Nest

Later this week, exactly 26 years, 4 months, and 24 days after we first became parents, my husband and I will have an empty nest! Our youngest of three boys, now 19, is moving out. He has leased an apartment in the Twin Cities! This is exciting for all of us!

2021 brought a year of sweeping change for everyone. But, achieving an empty nest is a milestone experienced by millions of parents each year. Each time it is experienced, however, it is unique to the individuals involved. We are the “older” parents of three boys, waiting until we were fiscally sound to start our family. Our oldest son spent five years as an “only” child before we had his brother. Then, we had our youngest son 25 months later. So, we have a spread of seven years between our oldest and youngest son. It was not our choice to have our children with this type of gap, but it is what we were blessed with as parents. Never, have I forgotten this blessing or taken it for granted. Being the parents to three wonderful young men has been our greatest gift.

Our youngest graduated high school this past spring. Yes, during the height of the pandemic. He experienced a virtual graduation ceremony and received his diploma in a drive-up commencement outside of our high school in July. He elected not to have a party. This experience was much different than our other two boys’ commencements. Our oldest, graduated valedictorian from a virtual academy that was affiliated with a public school district three hours away, near Milwaukee. We drove there, on graduation day, for an in person ceremony from the virtual high school. (I find that kind of ironic!) Our middle son experienced a traditional graduation ceremony from our resident high school on the last weekend of May in 2018. Memorial Day weekend is when our commencements are usually held. We had three graduates in seven years experience different completions of their K-12 education. At first glance, this might seem odd. But, after some reflection, it only makes sense. Three different commencements for three individual young men.

Did you know the word commencement means beginning? Unlike the events the word is associated with, such as the end of high school or the end of college, commencement means beginning.

So, much like our boys have had commencements, my husband and I will commence on our empty nest stage of parenting this coming weekend. Already, we are making a bathroom renovation and planning to paint the “newly available” spaces in our home. This week has been busy making lists of things to do, things to move, and things to toss. The lists are followed by the actual packing of those items deemed essential by either our son or us. Appointments are made with the bank, and other places necessary to complete a move and start an independent, adult life.

Unlike some, I’ve never been sad as my boys (now men) have started a new phase of their lives. I didn’t shed a tear as the bus picked them up for kindergarten. I didn’t shed a tear after middle school. I didn’t shed a tear as they learned to drive. And, I didn’t shed a tear as they graduated high school. I think this is because I believe, as parents, we need to prepare our children for their life beyond being our child. We need to grow their wings so they can leave the nest and fly. This is what we prepare them for as they grow into being young adults. So, when they are ready to fly; we must let them.

Commencement means a beginning…

Moving out means a beginning…

An Empty Nest means a beginning…

I wish us all well.

Image by Larry White from Pixabay

Today is Slice of Life: Tuesday. This weekly forum of educators and writers is brought to us by the TwoWritingTeachers blog. I started writing in March of 2017 during the Slice of Life Challenge, where bloggers are encouraged to write each day during that month. For more about this writing opportunity, check out the blog information page where you’ll find more details.

3 thoughts

  1. I feel this so very strongly. My older son is now a sophomore at college, and my younger son is about to *commence* his new chapter by going to college next year. And you are COMPLETELY right. I’ve never really cried over any of the transitions for my boys (although I’ll admit to getting a bit choked up in the car after dropping thing 1 off at college for the first time). It’s more like, I’ve known that transitions are always harder on ME as a parent than them. They are ALWAYS ready, or as ready as they can be. And commencing that new phase of our lives together? And watching them commence their next journey? Pretty darn amazing. Here is wishing you the best of it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lainie, My apologies for this late reply. Moving our youngest to St. Paul, MN took place this weekend and we are “recovering” today. Much the same as you, I did choke up when I was in the car after we dropped our oldest off at college. He is still at college, now finishing a PhD. Our middle son was fiercely independent and almost pushed us out the door of his dorm room barely ten minutes after unloading him. He didn’t want help and wasn’t going to accept any. I felt more resentment than hurt and sad but since he wanted his independence so badly, it made it easier to leave. And, our youngest accepted our help for the last two days as we helped move him into an apartment in a house. He’ll have the most adjusting to do as he was probably catered to the most AND is the most messy but is embracing this new experience. He elected not to go to college this past fall (even tho’ he was accepted at UW-Madison – our state’s flagship school. It’s been the right decision for him. So, I think they are aware of their journies and when to start them. Preparing them and supporting their decisions is the best we can do as parents. Part of the support is listening carefully to what they need -whether spoken or not.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You, mama, are amazing. The fact that your kids know that they have the room and space to be themselves…THAT is everything we could ask for, even if from time to time it weighs on us emotionally. It’s so important that you recognize that these journeys belong to THEM, and that you’re open and willing to provide whatever support, space, or combination of the two they need. They’re lucky to have you.


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