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I’m a guy.   I like my space.   I like my stuff.   I love my wife.

For the first time in thirty three years I have them all back to myself.

EmilyDropOffYes, the Dropoff at school was successful and it appears our adorable daughter will merge into the flow of college like a good driver getting onto the freeway.  The road is clear (we like her college), and she’s a very responsible driver.  Worst case she has three brothers and two parents for GPS.

Our empty nest is, of course, relative.  In today’s connected frenzy there is no real solitude (nor would I want that), but JoAnn, my lovely wife, no longer has to feel the compulsion to cook, or be a waitress, or monitor every coming and going in our daughter’s life.

Our grown sons, bless their male souls, have found a wonderful rhythm with us.  They check in, say hello, give brief updates, and then move along their way.  This is fine for me, as it’s my style of communication.  If they want to “get deep”, like talk about their problems or something, I hand the phone to their mom.  They know what type of advice I give best, and they know that their mom will listen for much longer.  That’s the beauty of this thing.

REGJEGLagunaPundits, our friends who have been Empty Nesters for at least one semester, tell us that we have plenty to keep us occupied.  We’ve got a wedding in October and, someday… we’ll be grandparents.  Ironically, as much as JoAnn feels sadness about having this empty nest, she’s not particularly interested in having an infant or toddlers running around right now either.  Even more ironically, I kind of like the idea of grandchildren.  It’s really about finding the new balance.

For thirty-three years we have been parents.  What were once discussions about music, movies, adventure and dreams were partially hijacked by discussions about our kids, their teachers, their sports, their friends… and that was perfectly fine.  In fact, empty nest or not, our conversations are still dominated by issues related to our roles as parents and that’s OK, we love what our children bring to our lives.

JetskiSuddenly, however, we’re back to us.  My career has morphed, and JoAnn’s continues.  For the first time, though, I’ve heard her talking about the possibility of a change – of diversifying her interests and looking at some new things.  Maybe she’d be willing to collaborate with me on my next project… “THIS, I think, is what being Empty Nesters is about!”

It’s day three, and already the possibilities are limitless.  Anyone want to go Jet-skiing?

EmSleeps_5_00My adorable wife and I are sending our youngest, and last, child off to college next week.  She is our fourth, and her departure comes with some significance.  We started our family in 1980 and added new members in ’83, ‘89, and ‘95 respectively.  Our oldest child is thirty-three, which means that JoAnn and I have had kids in our house for more than half of our lives.

We’re empty nesters all right.  We’ve got a wonderful home that, over the last years has experienced a decrease in noise, hunger, and homework.

Here we are, on the brink of the abyss.

I’m feeling a renewed freedom.  If we want to go to the movies, we can.  If we want to lounge around, we will.  If we feel like traveling, we’ll pack our bags.  For JoAnn, however, there is a significant void.  Intellectually it’s quite easy for her to fill in the hole.  She has a career, but she’s always carried that load.  She texts with our daughter all day – but she won’t need to wait up anymore.  She worries about cooking dinner – now she won’t, but none of this is relief she can feel quite yet.  Frankly, we’re just living in Suckville.

BlogLite08I figure we’ll be living here for a month or so.  They say “One door closes and another opens.” To me, this just means there’s going to be a draft in our house for a while.  There’s no question that we’re going to miss Emily’s morning and afternoon rituals – breakfast on the run, homework on the couch.  We’ll miss the sudden dance performances, and conversation re-enactments.  We’ll miss the drama of the drama, and we’ll miss the sweet late night, no-holds-barred conversations.  I’ll miss the moments when our wonderful daughter stands next to my wife, brilliantly and happily reflecting the wonderful woman who has taught her, so perfectly, how to be an amazing and sweet grownup girl.  Yes, it’s going be Suckville.

EHGJGGBeachAfter a while though, with constant doses of Skype, and love from our other three children – all sons who were raised to protect and honor their mother – we will find the new normal.  We will begin to ignore the void, or fill it with a new type of busy that will include the addition of a new daughter (in the upcoming wedding of our second son), the ongoing growth of our oldest, and the remarkable exploits of our third.  We will be reminded of the luck we have in our friendships, and the strength we find in each other.  We will find comfort in the good fortune we have in being able to send our daughter to a fine school, even when it hurts.  But that’s our job.

Before we know it, she will be home for her brother’s October wedding and after that, it will suddenly be Thanksgiving, The Holidays, and the New Year.

As much as I’d like to think that I’m tough and my daughter is just moving into this new phase, I have to say that I’ll be joining JoAnn as we pass through Suckville.  I just hope the New Normal is right around the bend.