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Colleen Mallette reflects on how different becoming an empty nester looks after going through more than a year of the pandemic.

Two years ago, I reluctantly prepared my home for our youngest child to head off to college and my heart to accept becoming an empty-nest parent. Being a stay-at-home mom for 24 years made it a difficult transition to go through. After months of trying to guess ahead of time what that would look and feel like for my husband and me, it didn’t turn out to be exactly what I expected. But I have to say that thinking about it (and even crying a little over it) before she even left did help when the moment came and as I got through that first month.

Preparing ahead of time by making a fall to-do list of extra projects around the house and people/places to visit really helped. Researching potential Bible study classes, organizations to volunteer with, and new recipes to try gave me a sense of feeling needed and ways to keep busy. Vowing to sort through and clean out closets and childhood items was definitely a needed project if we are to downsize homes anytime in the near future. Considering a new hobby or craft to learn and even learning a second language would give me a new purpose and way to grow.


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This “New-School-Year Resolution” examination is something I tend to do every August, rather than in January. As our lives change with the start of a new school year, it is natural to need to review our family routines. This year is no exception, especially as we are again becoming empty nesters after having only done it for only seven months (we had two of our children home again for 18 months due to the pandemic).

Like many other families, just when we were adjusting to no children at home, back they came to finish up their spring semesters online, which led to another whole year of strange schedules. We happily welcomed them home where we could keep them healthy and safe and enjoy their presence. Yet now we are all accepting the opportunity for them to get back to independent living and more normal young-adult lives.

It is easier, this time around, to know what to expect and accept an empty nesting situation, and the plans for filling my days seems less scary and urgent. The slower pace of being locked down taught us all to appreciate less-hectic lives, so I don’t even have the need to find more activities. Oh, I still have a little list of people to visit whom I haven’t seen for awhile, some house-cleaning projects that need to be tackled, and the local Pregnancy Crisis Center to return to after all these months. But the urgency and need to fill every day of the week has gone, and I look forward to more downtime for reading and prayer, Adoration, daily Masses, and even Reconciliation more frequently.


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The urgency and need to fill every day of the week has gone, and I look forward to more downtime. #catholicmom

So the pandemic interrupted our empty-nesting phase of life for awhile and slowed things down, which turned out to have a permanent good effect. If we have to wear masks in public and limit our outings again this fall, it won’t seem as devastating or life-altering this time around. And letting our children go so they can become independent people embarking on their own adult path of life is what we raised them to do.

They really aren’t our children to begin with: they are God’s sons and daughters who we have had the privilege to raise for Him and now must let them go. Time to move on to our next phase of life and find our own path of serving and loving God by finding other people to serve and love!

Copyright 2021 Colleen Mallette
Images: Pixabay (2018); Canva Pro