The Emptied Nest

Eli left a couple of hours ago, a sudden invitation. Sophie’s away at college. Unexpectedly the nest emptied tonight. Susan and I are on our own all weekend. No kids, a preview of the near future.

This should have happened before. Sophie’s been gone for a year. But during last school year, no overnight outings for Eli. Certainly not a weekend away. Sure, Susan and I left town a few times over the years. Susan’s parents watched our kids. But traveling alone isn’t an empty nest. It’s a vacation.

The empty nest seems weird. I feel like we should be doing something special. Date night, maybe. But the kids are teenagers. We can go out any time we want. Instead, we cooked a frozen pizza and watched an episode of Bob’s Burgers—a show about a family that we usually watch with our kids. Now, we’re apart for the evening. Right next to each other in our family room, but separate. Susan reading, me writing this. The empty nest is about being comfortable at home without the distraction of kids.

It terrifies me. I lose sleep thinking about our future. I worry about my conversation skills. Worry that Susan will be bored living with me. Talking isn’t my strong suit. I rarely know what to say. Often, driving with Susan or one of my kids, I’ll realize no one has said anything lately. I try to think of a topic to discuss, a news story or something about work, but I go blank. I think harder, I blank more. I panic and say something stupid, something that deserves no response. Or I sit quiet and stress.

Eli’s a junior. An adult in two years. Away at college or maybe a home of his own. This weekend is practice, a trial run. A chance to view my weaknesses, plan remediation. A chance to get used to silent companionship with short talking breaks. A chance to grow closer to my wife.

17 thoughts on “The Emptied Nest

  1. All that time that you’re stressing cuz no one had said anything… remember that the other person in the car hasn’t started a conversation either.
    Sometimes silence… comfortable silence… is wonderful!

    A goal of getting closer to your wife is awesome, but you might ask her if that’s what she wants😉 From what you’ve shared, you guys are good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • *Comfortable* silence is the key. The other day it occurred to me that possibly our problem is that we rarely listen to music as we drive to the next town to run an errand (25 – 45 minutes). The radio stations are all crap and the song mix on my phone is too punk (lots of sex pistols and the like) for general appreciation. Maybe next time, I’ll suggest Susan play her music. I did check in with her this morning. She says I don’t need to entertain her. Maybe I’ll stop worrying so much about this.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. That must be a new strange experience. I swear the topic that Bob and I talk most about is our kids. They definitely keep us on our toes. To not have them there or to discuss the newest problem on the table – that would be a new land to traverse.
    I agree with Angie too. I often worry about silences but I do not try to fill them. I figure if the other person wants to talk they will. If I want Bob to talk I will tell him. I bet Susan would do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now that the weekend is done and Eli’s back, I can say it was a really nice weekend, We watched a movie that wasn’t an action thriller and we got SO MUCH done around the house. Starting to remember what it was like before kids.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right. Change is the only thing that stays the same. I think brief weekends like this will be good practice. Although I’m not sure when it will happen again. Probably no time soon.


  3. I am the same way. we will drive for quite some miles with nothing being said. sometimes it bothers me that I can’t think of anything to talk about, sometimes I enjoy the peace and quiet…

    I think these little prctice runs are a nice way to ease into being empty nesters…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is right where we’re at and wondering what comes next and what exactly will we do when our schedules are our own and will we enjoy all that time together – that time alone we’ve been craving for so many years? Wishing you a smooth transition full of discovery

    Liked by 1 person

    • After my empty nest weekend, I can say the concept no longer frightens me. I can see how wonderful it’s going to be. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out where to do it. Moab was always the place we said, but will there be any water there?

      Liked by 1 person

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