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A Recap of Our Family's Sudden Empty Nest

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One of My Favorite Pictures of My Oldest

This my oldest son, waking into the wind near the ocean in January in Southern California one year.  This is near the wedge in Balboa, Newport Beach.

This my oldest son, waking into the wind near the ocean in January in Southern California one year. This is near the wedge in Balboa, Newport Beach.

People that we love dearly, must sometimes leave our lives.

Within four short months, my husband and I have had our two sons, and my parents move away from us. Let me make clear that we live far away from all the rest of our family members. So this is a lot to deal with in a short span of time. Also, while we knew our high school senior would likely move away and go to school, the other three were not expected necessarily at this time.

I will go in order of the ones that left. Lets start with my oldest of two children. My oldest son and my husband has basically made a deal of sorts after he graduated. My oldest is a wonderful, thoughtful and hard working person. He isn't your typical college student however, and still figuring out his path in life. He is very creative and loves the arts, especiallly music. He has a wide range of talents and interests, none of which he has managed to make work with a college path. That said, he had a time frame with which he could stay in our home. He did start paying rent to us a couple of years ago, and contributed with helping out with chores around the house. We felt this would be good to equip him for the next stage of his life. Before anyone jumps to any conclusions about how mean that might sound, we did save every dollar of rent he paid us, for his future! He didn't know this for some time. We were saving it for him to help him pay for his first and last months rent, furniture, and all sorts of other things when he moved out.

My husband and I were so happy with this plan. As of four years after high school graduation however, that rent would then be fully coming to us and staying with us for our home, if he were to stay. He was indeed excited to move out had had some prospects for roomates and different situations. As of April of this last year, the time came and he and his roomate moved into a nice little home that isn't really that far away from us. We don't see him that much, but probably see him at least once a week, so that is nice. No matter how you look at it though, its hard having your child move away. I recall telling myself, "I hate U-Haul trucks!" That was on the day of the move. I was being silly, and pinned the feelings onto that vehicle that drove my son and all of his belongings away.

To be clear, this was such a healthy and happy thing as well. This is what we raise kids for after all, right? So there are many proud and conflicting feelings that go with such a move. Perhaps it is harder for a mother. I am very proud of him, and he seems to be doing very well. He is now learning all about life on your own, and how expensive it is to live and pay your own bills, budget, etc.

We Each Have Our Own Path

A picture from Greece, when I went with my oldest son back in 2009.

A picture from Greece, when I went with my oldest son back in 2009.

From this April, to July. My Parents Moved Across the Country

I am originally from the West Coast, California to be exact. I now live in the Midwest and have lived away from California for perhaps half of my life now, total. About ten years ago, my parents made a bold move to also move away from California, and have lived closer to us since this last July. Let me say also that there was a time when my sister and her whole family, as well as my step brother and his family were also living here. They have all since left for various reasons. My parents however, were the ones that stayed the longest.

It was no surprise to me that my parents were going to move back to California one day, their home basically. In fact, my other brother and sister live there, and between the two of them there are nine other grandchildren there! I have two that are getting so grown up and moving out, so you can see they would of course want to live closer to the others. I could never fault them for that, and totally understand.

My parents lived in a beautiful home in the country, with a beautiful wooded back yard with ponds, etc. They had plenty of space for when family came out for a visit. My Step Father has been through fighting cancerous brain tumors during those years, and is now free of cancer still. We were so thankful for a wonderful medical team here! Its been an amazing journey for all of us, full of so many memories. I wouldn't trade them for the world.

My parents decided to put their home up for sale, and it sat there for over a year. They began to get discouraged, and figured it would happen when the time was right. Well that time came quickly, and before I knew it, I got news they were moving within one months time! So this last July, we said goodbye to my parents, and I again had so many mixed emotions on this, and I still do. It is so sad to write about this even now, but I also feel so thankful. It doesn't help at the moment that they have had a very difficult time adjusting back to life in Southern California. This has made the move as difficult as anything, because I can't be there to help them.

I love my parents so much, and lost my biological father a few years ago as well. Lets just say that I don't take anyone for granted! I love all of my family so much, and every moment of time we have to spend together.

An older image of my two boys.


My Youngest and Second Son Moved Out Two Months Ago

Now to my youngest, my "baby," so to speak. My youngest son graduated with honors this last May, and we were so proud of him. He decided on a school, and he moved out in August. We couldn't be more proud and feel thankful he is only a couple of hours drive away. He has been home a couple of times and will be home again for Thanksgiving.

I was somewhat nervous to have him leave because he loves being home, and the simple things in life. He was so unsure at first about leaving at all, that it made it very difficult for me to just encourage him to go. Was he really ready, and would he be ok? My husband was a great help to me during all of this. He assured me many times over that he would be ok, and that this would be the best thing for him. I can only say that there are so many things a mother thinks about and is worried about when her child leaves home! This goes for both of my boys.

I feel so fortunate to have gone on a special missions trip this last summer with my youngest son. We drove to New Mexico and spent time in Colorado as well, and even went white water rafting together! We got to make some wonderful memories I will always remember. I can highly recommend making any memories you can with your loved ones. Even supposedly small memories are priceless.

My youngest son and our much younger beagle.

My youngest son and our much younger beagle.

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What Now? More Thoughts on Our Sudden Empty Nest

As you can see, I have nothing whatsoever to complain about. I am so thankful for the times spent with the wonderful people that are no longer living with us, or near to us. It is not as if we lost them all in a tragic accident or some such thing. That thought came to me as I went to share our story here. I can't begin to imagine what a loss such as that would be like.

All four of these amazing people are exactly where they should be! I miss them all terribly, but I also know that I will get to see them occasionally as I can. For now, it is me, my husband and my beagle who is getting closer and closer to also leaving us. She is up in years, and already survived many things in her life. Like the rest, I treasure the time I have with who I have.

I wouldn't change a thing. I can encourage others that it is survivable, even though it feels very difficult at times. It is one of those moments that I also suddenly realize and sympathize with my own parents that raised me and my siblings. I never quite realized what our parents went through. I think too of my parents in law, as my husband was one of two children and left home at age 17 to drive off to college several states away.

If I am honest, I can tell this is harder on me than I had thought it might be. On the surface, all seems to be going alright so far. Underneath, I think it must be a little tougher. Compared to the year before, I wasn't so tempted by my "go to" stress relievers, for example. For me, tend to want to eat more than I need, and I want to go shopping more than I need. As least I am recognizing it! It is always better to process even the tougher feelings, than to bury them and look for "comfort" somewhere else. Again, its not so bad, I am just saying that it clearly is a little tougher than I thought.

I am so thankful to God who has given so much to my family and I, and answered so many prayers. Life is precious and is flying by. I think of this often. It makes me really want to treasure the gift of life and family. While I never anticpated having four of the closest people in my life move away in four months time, this is just what happened. It is alright, and I think we will all be fine.

An "Empty Nest" Poll

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on November 06, 2016:

Hello Denise, you bring up some very interesting points. I have thought a lot about some of these things, and I agree with you this is a great time for things like finishing degrees or pursuing other dreams. I can see how it can be a very exciting time! I know that you are right, that they come back.

Life is such an interesting journey, and one thing in paricular that keeps jumping out is how quickly the time is flying by. I have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward too. This is the way I am looking at these things, and it can really help if I start to get down at all.

I really appreciate your comment and what you said.

Blessings to you also,


Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 02, 2016:

I feel your pain and totally understand. I know that I felt good remembering that I devoted my life and all my time to my kids while they were here and now it was time to look forward to something for me. I decided it was my turn to go to college and finish that degree I had put off to raise kids. Online schools are the best and there are so many to choose from these days. You may not want to go back to school, but now is the time to think what you always wanted for yourself and put off because the kids were more important. This can be an awesome time for you. Embrace it. By the way, they always come back you know. They bring friends and lovers and wives, etc., but they come back. I remember how shocked my son was one day when called and had to talk to my answering machine because I had things to do, places to go, people to see. He assumed I would be sitting by the phone with my knitting breathlessly waiting for his call. But I found that I had a life and it's a good life!



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