Our Impending Empty Nest

empty nest

During a wood cutting expedition a few years ago, my husband cut down a dead tree and found this little treasure which he saved and brought home.

Somehow, I’ve returned to the emotional rollercoaster I rode when I was pregnant with my son twenty years ago. On the way home from work this week, I had myself in tears over our forthcoming “empty nest” status.

Then, when I did get home, I had to blink back more tears because of the actual EMPTY NEST on our front porch. It’s cool, but a bit too literal of a reminder of what is going to happen in the next six months.

It doesn’t take much to set either myself or my husband off when we think of our kids leaving. What the hell are we going to do?

Our weekends will no longer be filled with soccer games, waiting up for kids to get home, and just the general noise and activity of having teenagers in and out of the house.

On the one hand, I tentatively welcome it because I’ll have more time to write, quilt, and even read – all those things I love to do but have to fit into the tiny crevices of my life between work, family, and kids.

But then, I wonder if those silent spaces, that I don’t even realize are filled with noise right now, might grow too big.

I can make myself cry thinking about it, at least until I get reminders of life with small children.

My daughter has chosen to go to a school in California, about twelve hours from our house. It’s a long way. Yesterday, I was emailing a college buddy about it. She started her family much later than I started mine, and her kids have just begun elementary school. She’s got years to go before she has to face her babies leaving home.

I was expressing my concerns about the distance we’ll have to drive to see my daughter, and she sent me this response:

“Yeah, but as you guys get to be really F-ing old you can drive to Truckee, stop at our place there…then drive to the bay area and stop there [at her house]…and then remind yourselves how happy you are that your kids aren’t still in elementary school….I’m at the zoo right now.”

I about spit my coffee at my computer screen I laughed so hard when I read that. And, if I really give it an honest look, she’s right. I thank God I’m more concerned with registering my daughter for dorm housing than registering her for kindergarten.

I think we’ll be just fine.


  1. Sharon Rosse on March 17, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Great post. I know you and Gary will be just fine. You both have full, creative, active lives. You’ll love this next parenting stage as much as you’ve loved all the past ones. You’ll continue to bloom and prosper without the kids at home full time or … without going to the zoo. xo

    • Amy Isaman on March 17, 2015 at 9:27 am

      You are right but the whole transition is scary!! It’ll be so QUIET!

  2. Dad on March 17, 2015 at 10:37 am

    I almost spit my coffee out too when I read your friend’s comment because I AM that F…ing old. With my youngest daughter becoming an empty nester I guess that makes me an empty nester squared…or just square…or maybe an empty nester once removed. You will adjust and even learn to treasure the QUIET as you watch your kids sprout their wings and begin to lead their lives as the adults that you and Gary prepared them for to be. Enjoy and don’t hurt your arms patting yourselves on the back.

    P.S. Does anybody else posting to this blog worry that their grammar, spelling, and punctuation will be checked and graded?

    • Amy Isaman on March 17, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      I think maybe just square! But you’re right, I can’t imagine the day when my kids’ kids leave the next – weird. I’m proud of them, but that’s part of the challenge – I enjoy them and like spending time with them.

      As for you grammar, no worries. I have enough grading at school!

  3. Lissa on March 17, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Love this piece Amy. So honest. And funny!! You will be just fine. Still hard though.

    • Amy Isaman on March 17, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks Lissa. I know we’ll be fine, just like we were fine when we had the biggest shock EVER and found out we were pregnant! Life changes….isn’t that one of the “rules” of life?

  4. Srinivas Shenoy on August 19, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Nicely written. Thanks.
    My children left home at 13 years age to study abroad. Thank God for Skype and WhatsApp, but I still can’t hug them or put an arm over their shoulders through either. It is painful at times, but life is like that throughout, is it not?
    At such times, I thank God for the good times, look at the things we have to be thankful for today. And prayerfully hope that it is for the children’s good that we are going through this experience.

    • Amy Isaman on August 20, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      Oh wow – that’s hard, Srinivas! Thanks for sharing. This summer is the first summer my kids haven’t come home. They’re officially on their own. It was really hard at first, but they’re both doing well, and I love watching where they’re going. I do trust that your experience is all for the good. And I’ll pray for that too.

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