Empty Nest Syndrome

My daughter is almost 28. When my husband and I brought Erin home from the hospital, my father immediately asked me when they could start keeping her overnight. I said, “Not until I stop breastfeeding.” I was never able to express milk, so Erin never had a bottle until she was about 3 months old. When I started back to school, the breast milk dried up and she was bottle-fed from that point on.

And, boy, was she one happy baby. The breast milk, although sufficient for her needs, never seemed to give her that sense of fullness. But when she drank from the bottle, she was satiated to the bottom of her little toes. She seemed so content and blissful and drunk. And, although I enjoyed breastfeeding her, the transition to the bottle was so uneventful that it was no big deal. I didn’t feel deprived. I didn’t feel a failure. It is what it is. And now, my husband and the new grandparents could share in the feeding experience, too.

What does this have to do with empty nest syndrome? Absolutely nothing. But the breastfeeding story and its ending is the beginning of Erin’s “sleepovers”. My parents started taking her one day and night a week. It was their treat to have her, and our treat to have a night to ourselves. More than anything, it was lovely to have a break in the usual routine. And, since my daughter was the only grandchild for 6 years, they spent a lot of time with her.

When she got older, they would take her with them to weekend getaways. And when we moved to North Carolina, we started letting our daughter fly as an unaccompanied minor to stay with her grandparents for a month during the summer. So, slowly, we got used to her being gone from time to time. Good practice for the future!

While she was gone, I would clean her room from top to bottom. When she’d come home, she would practically live in her room for days because it was so pretty and neat and organized again. Of course, cleaning the room stopped when she was old enough to deserve her privacy. But by that time, she was a disorganized slob (sorry, kiddo, but it’s true) and I wouldn’t have wanted to touch her room for anything.

Anyway, my daughter was that child who couldn’t wait to leave home and go to college. With all of her travels, she’s learned to be independent.I think she started packing for college the day she got her acceptance letter! So I was caught a little unawares when, the day we left her at the dorm, I had that empty feeling inside. But it only lasted for about 4 hours. And I’ve been fine ever since. I think those 4 hours of emptiness had more to do with change than with her actually moving out. And except for one semester when she was between roommates and there were no single apartments available mid-year, she hasn’t lived at home since August of 2000.  Ten years since she moved out of the house. Ten years we’ve been empty nesters. Well, not since we got our boxer, Sonny.

When our daughter got her boxer puppy, I had to get one, too — from the same litter, no less —  so now we’re not quite empty nesters anymore. And I did not get a dog to “replace” my daughter. The dog didn’t come until we had been empty nesters for 7 years. But the dog is another story. Check out my blog: raisingsonny.blogspot.com if you want to know more about the dog.

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~ by Heather on August 4, 2010.

One Response to “Empty Nest Syndrome”

  1. sweet memories
    I can’t find previous responses.

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