Revolving Nest Syndrome

American Robin, Turdus migratoriusOutside my bedroom window is a Robin’s nest. Since the first year it appeared, the nest filled with light blue eggs and babies soon hatched. They grew fast then one day – in what seemed like no time – they were gone. The following spring, the soft trill of robins waking me at dawn signaled they had returned.

 These days, my own home is starting to feel like the grass and twig structure. My daughters have grown and have flown from our abode, but they aren’t gone for good.

I’m at that stage in my life where I am always hearing the word “empty nest” tossed about when someone’s children go off to college, including my own. Yet just when I get used to the pattern of a household consisting of my husband and our two dogs, along comes the college winter break. It’s followed by spring break then the long summer months. My nest again pulses with the same beat it did when my girls lived here year-round.

I don’t feel like I’ve been handed an empty nest, rather a sort of revolving door. The kids go. The kids return. To me a true empty nest is when your kids won’t return, like when they get their first apartment and support themselves fully with a regular paycheck and their own health insurance. Let’s face it, these days after finishing college, graduation often means transitional return home, the only option while they hunt for a job or take work and save money for loftier goals.

“Empty Nest Syndrome” is defined as a depressed state felt by some parents after their children have left home. While we may feel down during these temporary departures,  for many of us our kids will be back. Instead I’d say I suffer from “Revolving Nest Syndrome;the constant upheaval in my house and mind when my children come and go as they enter into their lives as new adults.

It’s not a bad thing. I love my daughters and realize this back and forth is part of my job as a parent. Yet I do find the transitions jarring. I get used to life one way and then it shifts again. Constant change. Not easy for a middle-aged gal like me, who does best with a routine.

So as I sit here today, working quietly after having a full house for a short while, this particular silence has left me somewhat wistful, missing the old days when my kids were in one place all the time, right under my nose.

I know I’ll get used to the pulse of my temporarily emptied nest. And just when I begin to enjoy this pace, it will fill up again with the next school break or other transitioning moment of my children’s lives.

Do you have a revolving door in your house or have you reached certified empty nester status?


19 responses to “Revolving Nest Syndrome

  1. Great post. Empty and revolving nest syndrome shocked me.

  2. Your post made me feel SO much better, Sharon, I can’t tell you. My son is 19 and a sophomore at the local junior college. My daughter is only 14 and a sophomore in high school. I’ve been waiting (dreading is more appropo) for my son to suddenly split the scene to do his own thing but when I sit down and “get real”, I know that’s not going to happen any time soon. He is directionless right now with a part-time job that doesn’t pay much and he doesn’t like school and doesn’t know what he wants to do, so as my husband says, “He isn’t going anywhere, Patti.” I’ve always looked as his leaving as permanent and after reading your post I can breathe a sigh of relief and look at it as the “Revolving Door Syndrome” instead. Thank you so much for that. I know it will be very stressful to have him in and out and in and out, but I have gained a new perspective from you. Thank God!

    • Hi Patti, I’m glad the post helped. My oldest left for college five and a half years ago. That day felt monumental. Then after a year away, she returned home and commuted to a local university. My youngest went off to college then the oldest graduated and took a year long job across the country. When done, she may live here a a few months til she leaves for grad school. It’s just a cycle of in and out. Someday it’ll be real empty-nester stuff. Until then, at least my husband and I know we can still have a conversation. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Fun post!

    The start of school was such an adjustment after this summer. I have a middle schooler and a high schooler and with all of the kids spending the night at my house and then my kids spending the night out, we had a revolving nest syndrome of a different sort.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Kristi Rhodes

    • You aren’t kidding Kristi! The door does start around middle-school. Then in high school it’s insane. I did like how they started to have their own lives at that age though. Back then, Bill and I sometimes founds ourselves alone at night or on a Saturday and would kick up our heels and go to dinner alone or to a movie. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Terri-Lynne DeFino

    Oh, darlin’–do I hear you! It’s a neverending cycle, that revolving door. Yes, so aptly tagged. The transition from quiet to chaotic gets harder and harder. I might be the sparklequeen, but I do enjoy my solitude quite a lot.

  5. I know it’s not quite the same, but I remember how different the house always felt when my older brother and sisters went off to college and then were back for the breaks. And sometimes, during the holidays, they would bring home with them what we came to call the “holiday orphans” – fellow students who lived too far away to travel home. It was always such fun when the house was full and I missed everybody when they went back. These days, my “revolving door” is centered around the dog’s bodily needs. 😉

    • Ah, yes Spikes’ needs are like that of a childs. Gotta love our doggies :-).
      Those visits from kids and siblings do add a new “life” to the house and it does seem quiet when it ends.
      Thanks for sharing, Maura!

  6. Revolving door for sure! Great Post, Sharon. We moved two out this past weekend – one heading into his final year and one into his first year. And we still have one at home for a few more years. It is sad knowing that once they head down that path of their lives, we only have them for sporadic visits, school breaks and summer vacations. It certainly does seem like the door is simply spinning while they come and go and we just clean up after them once they leave and enjoy the peace and quiet until the next visit. And we look forward to each and every one. I try not to think about the fact that the “revolving door” period is limited too. The day is coming when even that will end, and then I think we will feel the need to remind them that “mom’s door is always open”

    • So true Anne…Mom’s door is always open.” Even if your child was 50 with a family of their own and they needed a place to stay, you’d always make room for them.
      Thanks so much for sharing and good luck with all your transitions. Sounds like you’ve got quite a few more years of them ahead!

  7. Yep, you’re so right, Sharon. That’s exactly what it is. A revolving nest. You get used to walking past a clean room and then the kid homes home and it looks like a bomb went off. My daughter is back home after graduating and looking for that elusive job. Those four years went fast! One good thing though, she makes her bed every morning without being asked 🙂

    • Haha, yeah…I get the bedroom-bomb part of this scenario! They sure do go fast. Good luck with your daughter’s job search. Perhaps she can add to her resume “Make my bed everyday.” It’s surely a sign of maturity 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  8. For sure, bed making is important, lol. Just noticed my typo. I meant COMES home. Coffee must not have kicked in when I wrote that!

  9. Date: Tue, 3 Sep 2013 14:27:59 +0000 To:

  10. What a beautiful post, Sharon. Brings back memories of when mine flew the coop. But the funny thing is, they are never really gone. Over the years, both of mine have moved back in temporarily, usually with their partner of the time, sometimes after a breakup. It’s us who they turn to when they need a safe nest. My kids are now well and truly grown, and one has a family of her own. She tells me she really ‘gets it’ now about the love a parent has for a child. I like that. Thanks. You made me tear up.

    • It must have made you feel great when you’re daughter said that to you, Noelle! We know we’ve done our job as parents during those types of moments. Thanks for stopping by!

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