Outside 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?