I have finally reached that stage in my life where my children have grown up and are off pursuing other interests. Its kind of strange experiencing the empty nest syndrome. You start to notice small changes right away, such as how the volume of trash goes down, as does your water, power, and food bills. The phone doesn't ring as much and its generally a lot quieter around the house at night. Maybe the hardest part is changing your eating habits. Instead of shopping and cooking for a group of people, you find yourself staring at the TV over a Marie Callender pot pie or a Stouffer's pizza. It takes quite an adjustment to learn how to cook for two.
As your offspring leaves, you determine its finally time to clean out their rooms. This is when you find that socket set you've been missing for the last five years and your old records and CD's you had forgotten about. And when they come back for a visit they look at you mortified as to why you found it necessary to clean out their rooms. "Wasn't it okay the way it was?" Some people like to go the extra mile and replace the furniture and create a new guest room or den. This really exasperates the kids as to why you didn't do this earlier when they were still home.
Although you were always looking for a little peace and quiet around the house after the kids were gone, now you find you cannot sleep as the house seems too quiet to you. I guess we get conditioned to a little helter-skelter being around us.
You also discover you're starting to get some free time on your hands. Instead of school functions and chasing the kids around the ball fields, you finally have time to reacquaint yourself with your spouse. The only problem is you are not in your twenties or thirties anymore and you both find more solace in reading a good book or watching a movie then chasing each other around the bedroom. You're not dead yet, but you come to the painful realization that life isn't quite the same anymore.
But perhaps the hardest part of the empty nest is realizing the kids are no longer chasing you around anymore and that you are now chasing them. You no longer take them for granted and cherish every moment you speak to them on the phone as well as every e-mail or letter they send you. The hardest part is simply missing them.
Tim Bryce is a writer and management consultant located in Palm Harbor, Florida.
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He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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