The year my daughter went off to college we received a card at Christmas asking how my husband and I were dealing with “empty nest.”
I remember wondering, What does that mean?
The four years Grace was away in college were some of the hardest I’ve ever gone through. We were extremely lucky she was accepted, beyond even what we could imagine, into an excellent school. And with all the scholarships and grants, there was a ridiculously small amount we had to pay. Yet I was stricken with terror: What if I failed!?
Prior to this we’d taken a couple overseas trips (see European Schedule) where we did crazy things to get the money to travel. I remember once my husband and I submitted to an MRI for medical research. I took on cleaning jobs and made cinnamon rolls and sold them for a dollar. There had been a small smoke fire in a senior’s room and I got hired to clean the walls. I practically had to peel the goldenrod colored nicotine off the walls along with corners of black smudge that turned out to be mold rather than smoke damage.
Anyway, to come up with $3,000 in three years was a miracle. So to come up with about ten grand a year made me double over in doubt. Yet we did it. Between Grace getting work study, working summers, and me selling fruit at a farmer’s market we were able to feed the college machine.
This is called stress.
The only thing that helped was a daily dose of YouTube cats playing the piano and the ever favorite: babies laughing. Seriously.
Since her graduation last spring I’ve had breathing space. Room to let go and begin to think about other things.
Such as the overwhelming loneliness of an empty nest.