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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Empty-Nest Chronicles: The 'Empty-Ness' Feeling

The one thing that I can't shake is the feeling of anticipated loneliness. When I come home from work and my son is not home I start to think, "Wow, the house is so quiet. Is this what I have to look forward to next year?"

(*TC's view of an Empty House –
Painting by Pierre-Monet)
At first I get excited at the thought because I'm not going to have to rush home from work to cook dinner, clean up breakfast dishes, or play the role of a chauffeur after a 1.5 hour commute on the NJTransit and MTA. As I start to figure out what to cook for the evening the feeling of sadness fills the air because next year neither one of the children will be home to ask, "What time will dinner be ready?"

My daughter, Toni, is already a sophomore in college and my son, Anthony Jr., is a senior in high school. Toni is only a 2 hour drive from home and she returns to the nest for holidays and three day weekends. AJ is preoccupied with his senior year, varsity football, college applications, and catching up on sleep. Even when AJ is home the house is pretty quiet.

SILENT DINNER

The loneliness feeling really hits home at dinner time. Dinner time is when I get to hear what is going on in the lives of Toni and AJ. It's the time that I get their thoughts about current events, reality shows, emerging musical artists and celebrities who needs to go sit down somewhere. Dinner time is when I get to run my ideas for this blog by them and ask them to take part in the podcast, Better Said Than Written – both have agreed but have yet to sit in front of the microphone. We have our best debates and discussions at the dinner table and those conversations really should be recorded and placed in the digital world.

The feeling of loneliness also sets in on the weekends especially when AJ is out and about. On  Friday and Saturday nights I sit home waiting for him to come home to see if he'd like to catch a movie or go out for dinner. He usually always has plans with his friends. "Why do I even bother staying home on the weekends," I would ask myself as he heads out to meet up with friends.

Yes, I know I should go out but I'm one of those parents who likes to stay close by just incase my kids need me. When I do go out I'm not focused because I'm worried about my kids. Then that damn feeling of loneliness strikes again when I realize that they are probably OK and if anything happened I would be first to know.

FIGHTING LONELINESS

One of the ways I fight this empty feeling is to sleep in Toni's half empty room. I really can't make sense of it for you to understand but being in her partially filled room doesn't make me feel so lonely. When AJ goes off to college I am sure I will revert to his room next.

Talking to myself has always been a pastime of mine but I've noticed that I have been having full fledge out loud conversations when no one is home. I assume this will get worse when the nest is totally empty...but hey, it's my coping mechanism to defeat this empty-nest feeling.

Getting over this emptiness feeling is going to take some work. The one thing I learned about loneliness is that nobody can fix it. I have to get through it all by myself. Thank you #SuperSoulSunday and Pema Chodron for sharing that advice with me.

Readers, I'll keep you posted on the process. Feel free to share your experience in the comment box or send your stories to astutestories@gmail.com.
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