Empty Nest Syndrome: No more Sandwiches!

“I’m leavin on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again… “

These lyrics have been playing in my head all week. I changed the pronoun to “she,” thinking of my daughter who left yesterday to begin her post-college life in San Francisco, a city that captured her heart and where she hopes to seek fame and fortune.  0-13

Not necessarily panning for gold, she’s preparing to take the LSAT, plans to apply to law school “out there” (my words), and enter the world of professional basketball. Not on the court, but behind the scenes.

I tried hard all week not to cry too much. We shipped her car the previous week and it should arrive early next, in time for her and her roommate, a high school friend, to scrounge for furniture from Craigslist and garage sales. 0-12

We spent some time unpacking the duffle bags she’d brought home from college in May, and repacking them with what she needs (and can fit.)  We tossed a lot:  old t-shirts from high school tennis, clothes she’d bought at thrift stores, worn out sneakers and too torn jeans. She began emptying her high school desk, piles of pencils and pens, an alarm clock never used, dried up glue sticks, stacks of index cards, highlighters and staplers. She found folders of her writing from high school—articles she’d written for the school newspaper and essays for her favorite English class. I suggested she not throw everything away; she might want to read it again some day. She agreed, saying, “If I’m famous, they’ll be valuable.”

I admire her confidence and her focus. She’s planned a career path she’s passionate about and one different than all her peers.

As I made her sandwiches for the plane, I thought about all the lunches I’d packed over the years when the kids were at home. Suddenly, there’s no one here. My role changes: no longer needed to chauffeur, cook, and console on a daily basis; no longer needed to hear about each one’s day. To talk to my daughter now, I need to consider a three-hour time difference.  Yes, there’s email and video chat. But,  still.

I’ve joined the empty nest club; it’s an odd feeling.

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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40 Responses to Empty Nest Syndrome: No more Sandwiches!

  1. jmgoyder says:

    Oh I feel for you!

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  2. Oh Lisa — even in the wonder of how amazing they are, and the excitement of watching them live their dreams – it is so hard when they fly away — so lovely when they come to visit — and so hard when they fly away. Hugs!

    Like

  3. You brave mama you! What does the Prophet say, our children are not our children, they are arrows or something? You must be proud to have raised such a confident and independent young woman. Chin up and pass the tissues, I feel your pain 🙂

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  4. mercyn620 says:

    Welcome to the club! Look forward to new experiences with your adult kids and more time to do what you want to do. Oh, and the money – you can keep more of it!

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  5. OmaOrBubby says:

    Lots of luck to your daughter (sniff sniff) who has gone out west to live out there (sniff sniff). I totally get it. Know the feeling (sniff). Have a shana tova and try to enjoy the empty nest.

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  6. You could always have another baby? Just kidding! Hope it made you smile though. 😉

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  7. judy says:

    My heart goes out to you! So fresh for me as well. It is a new phase and even though raw feelings now….you will begin to embrace the new chapter in your life. Best wishes Lisa!

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  8. You know I get it, and share in your experience— it’s a big, big change. And the time difference: it will become as natural as looking at your watch… with time. 😉 Hugs, friend.

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  9. Colline says:

    Not something I look forward to – I know I would miss my girls. Now I guess it is time to think of what to do to fill that void.

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  10. Patti Winker says:

    I can count on one hand the number of times I sobbed so hard I felt my heart would actually break. I mean, I’ve cried plenty, but that heart-wrenching, chest hurting sob was almost unbearable. It happened when I waved goodbye to my daughter and her new husband as they drove off in their U-Haul truck, heading out to start their married life way across the country. That was 18 years ago and the feeling of that moment is still very real. So, Lisa, here’s my virtual HUG. It will get better, but I’m a firm believer in giving in to that sadness and wallowing in it for a little while. Then, before you know it, you’ll be enjoying pictures and updates from your daughter as she settles in. My best wishes to you all!

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    • Thanks, Patti. And with email, ichat, and airplane tickets.. we won’t be out of touch. Very different from when my grandfather left Russia at 16, got on a boat and never saw his family again.

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  11. Enjoy it while you can…I think you’ll be surprised by how quickly the empty nest starts to fill up again 🙂

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  12. I have not been in your shoes but I can say that you can use this time to care for yourself and slow down. My stepdaughter sends us a text every morning. I think you rediscover the person you married and you find new projects. You are still mother and grandmother. However, you are also your daughter’s best friend.

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  13. ShimonZ says:

    I remember that feeling, when suddenly the house was empty. But really, it’s the beginning of a new chapter for us, and reason to celebrate. Instead of getting nostalgic or thinking about what’s missing, the best thing is to start looking for new activities and interests. And there’s so much out there in the world. It’s just amazing. No matter how much we learn and do… there is more than we can ever get to. But it’s enough to start.

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  14. So now you can Help your alta Mom with her blogs! Your are right, she will always need
    “suggestions”

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  15. The empty nest will fill up again. Just about the time when you thought you had adjusted to having more time to yourself there they will be, knocking on your door: “Mum could you look after ….” And you can because how could you possibly refuse to look after that little person with the adorable smile, your grandchild 🙂 🙂 :-).

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  16. Pingback: Cycling Diary: Wine, Onions & Socks | cyclingrandma

  17. Alex Compton says:

    Lisa,
    I just discovered your blog. The irony…I was making sandwiches this morning for the first day of school and dreading the hundreds of lunches I will have to pack during the coming school year. Thanks for the reminder that these mundane daily chores are also a privilege. Lydia has also been on my mind this week as she begins her new life. It will be sad not to have her at Kenyon anymore…think of the bike trips you can take in San Francisco when you visit her! Best, Alex

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  18. tchistorygal says:

    A friend of mine just told a young woman, “From the moment you have unprotected sex, you worry and you pay.” That seems to hold true in most cases, I think. 🙂 I wish your daughter the best, and hope she finds that success! 🙂

    Like

  19. Coming East says:

    Hope you can feel my hugs. All three of our children left home the same summer, one because she got married and wanted to live with her husband in Michigan ( go figure), and two moved up to Austin, just over an hour away, but it felt empty at home. Then one after another of the Austin kids moved to Boston, and we were more alone than ever. I feel your pain.

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