Charlene Rack plunges deep into the empty nest stage of life, and finds it wonderfully refreshing
My husband and I earned our Parenting-2401, “Empty Nest Level Degree” on July 11, the same day that our youngest daughter celebrated her wedding. I was more than ready. Wedding and Reception planning during an epidemic is wrought with complications. We did our very best, following mandatory restrictions, praying for guidance and protection, and ordering masks and hand sanitizer by the case-load. But I was tired!
(To read all about that wild adventure, check out my blog post from 07/22/20, Complications Coming and Going.)
I imagined quiet days, sleeping in until 9:30, leisurely reading while enjoying my morning tea, and doing jigsaw puzzles on my iPad (after my morning Scripture reading, of course, with Catholic Mom’s daily Gospel reflection!). My cats would be lounging lazily on my lap, their calming purrs soothing my soul.
After that, there’d be exploration drives in the country, with my husband and our faithful dog, Benny, pretending he’s a lap dog as we cram ourselves into the front seat of hubby’s truck. We’d boast of eagle sightings, and new discoveries. I’d write about them, while hubby supplied the illustrative photos. Ahhhh, the empty nester life ... (cue scratching album sound here).
After our final, “do-it-yourself-with-friends” reception, we pulled into our driveway that night with two vehicles to unload. There was leftover food and beverages, piles of wedding gifts, unused disposable dinnerware, decorations, flowers, unclaimed guest favors, and so on. We were up late unpacking and repackaging, loading the freezer, stacking items ceiling high, while being careful to leave walking paths in between.
The following morning (after a live-streamed Mass) we began packing for five days of camping at our own rustic country hideaway with the rest of our family (two daughters with husbands, and six grandchildren). I realized once we were there that I forgot to get all of the “camping meat” out of our freezer. Oldest daughter assured me that they had brought plenty for everyone -- I was grateful for her wise forethought! That week my fancy lounge chair got saggy from all the relaxing I accomplished, and I accidentally napped every day. There are excellent photos of everyone doing something fun, except me, because, well, I didn’t do much! (SERIOUSLY, though, it was a fun, blessed time with my out-of-towner crew, even if Mimi was moving a bit slower than usual. And I did do a few things, like drive the kids around in the golf cart, push sleepy little ones around in strollers, and rock cranky toddlers to sleep in the hammock.)
Once we got home from camping, we had two quiet weeks of ... cleaning up from the camping trip, tying up lose ends from the wedding, and washing piles of dirty clothes/towels/sheets, and so on. Unfortunately, the cats had shed more than usual during that period (from being overly stressed, since I had arranged for a cat sitter to stop by twice a day, and kitties are SCARED TO DEATH of strangers), so I had to utilize ardent dust-mopping and vacuuming efforts.
But finally, it came ... three entirely blissful days of extreme laziness ... followed by a request from our hour-north daughter to babysit for their three foster kids while they drove four hours further north to pick up an older, former foster son for an extended visit. Mimi and Papa had to pull out all the stops to manage that job. Then, that very evening, the worn out honeymooner couple dragged themselves back home with piles of laundry (still no washer & dryer in the rental home), and were greeted by Mother Hubbard’s cupboards.
I gladly offered the use of our laundry equipment along with a home-cooked meal. Then foster mom calls to say that their house is WAY too hot, and visiting former foster child wants to swim in a “big pool,” and can I ask our “big pool friends” if daughter and fam can come down for a swim. Next thing I know, I’m at the grocery buying more supper provisions, and trying to remember everything that needs to be “kid-proofed.” What followed was Family Campout Mayhem, the Sequel (with one VERY energetic 6-year-old added in). At least this version was played out with indoor plumbing and access to electricity.
Once I finally got the house back to normal again, I realized that husband’s birthday is coming up soon. Re-deploy the baby-proofing equipment, they’re coming back!!!!
That’s the hidden blessing I’m learning regarding the “empty-nest” – if your children have lovely memories of home, they are happy to return, again and again. Just when the emptiness begins to overwhelm me, I’m overtaken by grown children, sons-in-law, and grandchildren, and when I’m worn to a frazzle, they all go home. The nest is never really empty, just subject to intermittent (and much appreciated) recovery periods. Life is good!
Copyright 2020 Charlene Rack
Image copyright 2020 Charlene Rack. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Charlene Rack is an adventurous and fun-loving wife, mother of three grown daughters, and “Mimi,” who travels often to visit her grandkids. With her experience as a homeschool mom, she is an organizer of fun and enriching activities for children of all ages. She’s transitioning to the “empty nest” by writing humorous and inspirational articles for publication. Read her blog at Grandma’s Coffee Soup.