I decided to dust off this little blog because my searches for empty nester-focused blogs yielded pretty much zilch. I want to know how other people handle this cataclysmic shift in our way of life, especially if they're not in any hurry for grandchildren. What does life look like when your children and their needs aren't always at the forefront of your concerns?
Before we try to answer those questions and the many more that will come along, let me get you caught up on the Nagle5 News that is fit to be shared!
Superman was home as scheduled for his Christmas 2019 trip when we got the news his entire company had evacuated from Iraq the first week of 2020. (Remember the assassination of that Iranian general while he was in Iraq when people were afraid we'd go to war? That's what I'm talking about.) Well, a pandemic cooled the talk of war it became clear he wasn't going back any time soon. At that time, we still had Valiant and Buttercup living at home, as well as Buttercup's boyfriend, and Valiant's girlfriend was a steady presence in our home, so the first lockdown here in Washington State meant that, in the course of a month and a half, I went from really feeding no one because the kids were adults and doing their own thing to feeding six adults a couple times a day. Our grocery bill sky rocketed and the kitchen was never closed. It was a shock to the system for me, let me tell you.
Fortunately, only Valiant's job was affected by the lockdown policies (RIP events industry) and life in our household could go on as normal. Superman continued to work from home and, as the pandemic continued and it became clear his job overseas was going to be unstable at best, he changed firms, so his travel is now limited to domestic travel only for the foreseeable future. (That 14-hour Emirates flight from Seattle to Dubai is already a slog...I can't imagine doing it in a mask!!)
In April, Buttercup and her boyfriend moved into their own place in town and in September, Valiant and his girlfriend moved across country to start their new lives in Virginia. After having six adults in the house non-stop for a number of months, I confess I was thrilled to become an empty nester (sorry, kids!). The second the last of the kids moved out, I converted one bedroom to a bona fide office for Superman, who finds himself working from home more than he'd anticipated, and I turned the other bedroom in a nice guest room (anybody want to come visit?).
The empty nest fun took a pause when both Superman and I got the 'rona in early November, but two weeks of feeling like crap later, and we were back at it.
After that, I started purging a ton of stuff. You know the stuff: the stuff you hold on to because "the kids might want it". Yeah, no. If they didn't take it and it's not a keepsake, it's gone! Thank goodness Goodwill opened up again, or I'd have a mound of stuff in limbo. As the holiday stuff came out, I even sorted through that to get rid of a bunch of stuff. Superman and I like to decorate, but not in an over-the-top kind of way, so with no kids at home, I was free to sort through the seasonal decor items, too. (I put the bulk of the purging on pause to get ready for the holidays, but I'm itching to get back to it now.)
Fortunately for our transition to empty nesters, our kids were all able to come home for Christmas, so we didn't have the shock of no kids at the holidays, but I'm already anticipating the changes we will need to make for next year.
I'm not going to lie, this empty nest thing is new and weird and bittersweet. My children are some of my favorite people to have in my daily life and losing that has definitely felt like a "loss". That said, at some point it occurred to me that Superman and I threw ourselves wholeheartedly into trying to be the best parents we could be, beginning when we were pregnant with Charming, and that we'd lived that way for the past 30 years. There is an exciting freedom, in fact that we no longer have to make decisions based upon "what would be best for the kids" or "what do the kids need right now" and we're both bouncing around a bit with all of this freedom as we explore what WE want.
Cliff Notes on 2020 recap: Evacuation, Pandemic, Lockdown, Child 3 moves out, Child 2 moves out, everyone come home for Christmas and goes back to their own homes and we're on our own again!
As I've written before, this blog began its life as a way for me to share our lives with family and friends across the country. As the children reached a certain age, I concluded that to continue to share in such a way was compromising their privacy and my blog faded away. But life continues, and our journey continues, and my blog will be reinvented again, this time as a way to share life not only with family and friends, but as a way to share this next stage of life for other people looking for answers to "what now?" So, feel free to come along if you'd like, but if the tales of fledgling empty nesters are not your thing, that's okay, too.