Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fighting Empty Nest Syndrome, Part Deux

Mollie writes:

My niece is here visiting before she starts her junior year at college.  Lots of fun will be had today, including lunch out, a little shopping and dinner with friends this evening.  If I've mentioned it once, I've mentioned it a thousand times, but life for this diva gets a little boring with nothing but boys around.  So a niece is a good thing to have.

Amy is a lot of fun and allows me to indulge my feminine side.  Although she's in her twenties, she didn't become a presence in our lives until she was twelve.  She lives in the heartland with her family, and for a few years, other than brief family reunions, we seldom saw her.  She was a cutie, with red hair and big blue eyes.  And that kid could play piano!

Just about the time she hit adolescence, my two were entering their twenties.  It's really hard to back off - but the boys needed their space.  Late teens and early twenties is a good time to practice making small mistakes without your parents micro-managing every move you make, and Amy was there for us, absorbing our attention while Peter and Roger maneuvered their way into young adulthood.  The boys dyed their hair, lived to regret driving and texting, finished college and moved into their independent lives while we were happily sidetracked and amused by our niece, in her early teens.

As it is now, Amy is needing her own space, being a young adult herself.   But John and I were lucky enough to share in her teens, her trips to New York, her exploration of different career possibilities, the whole gamut.    When we were dealing with two young adult sons, we had a willing niece to go camping with us, learning to navigate with the GPS, fishing, and just generally enjoying her summers out of high school.  She would arrive by train and John and I would exchange phone calls and e-mail with her parents until her arrival to Everett Washington, the closest train station.  It was a good growth period for all of us.

Now that she is establishing herself as a young adult, the pains of empty nest are less acute.  In this intervening period, I've learned how to amuse myself without kids in the menagerie.  I've carved out a a life that doesn't include parenting.

Amy starts classes next week, complete with her own shared apartment, and we are enjoying watching from afar.  I've packed up old dishes, new towels, and properly mussed rags (so she can clean without using her new towels).  We'll be around for the next two years, but not hovering.

If you are dealing with empty nest, consider including another youngster in your life.  That person won't replace your other kids, but will fill that empty space that all of us experience when life moves on.

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