Semi-Empty Nest Syndrome

empty nest syndrome

empty nest syndrome (Photo credit: butterfingers laura)

  “change does not affect reality on a deeper level”

The more things change, the more they stay the same was originally a French proverb. It means that change “does not affect reality on a deeper level”. This definition was provided compliments of Wikipedia, a source I once promised myself I would never use.  Once again, the wise adage, “never say never” comes to mind.

I am not sure I agree that change does not affect reality, at least superficially, if not on a deeper level.  Take my immediate home front for instance. This summer my youngest son is home from college, which changes the dynamics of home life for at least a few months.  I really love having him home, as things are much livelier around here, which is good thing. When he is gone during the fall and winter months, it is kind of quiet around here (I love quiet, but not too much quiet).  His older brother still hangs out here, but he is gone much of the time, so during the school year, we have a semi-empty nest. Why has no one written about this transition—the semi-empty nest syndrome—where the house is empty of children for a good part of the time, but this is still their major home base?

Adult children—most assuredly a conflict in terms, do come home again (spearing yet another hackneyed saying in the heart).  Just because “home” may change slightly over time, you can still go back there, even if it is in your imagination. To quote Sam the Weatherman on Good Morning America: “I am just sayin’.”

To copy that American comedian (Jeff Foxworthy) who has a whole stand-up routine based on “You Know You’re a Canadian When”, I am going to provide you with a few clues that will let you know when you are in a state of semi-empty-nestedness (which I define as that state wherein the kids who do not live at home all the time, come home):

1. You have to buy the 24 roll package of toilet paper once a week instead of once a month.

2. A package of eight hamburgers will no longer fulfill the needs of two meals.

3. You buy Creamsicles even though you like ice cream sandwiches.

4. You stock up on bacon and sausages and pizza, then realize you are feeding your (big) kid too many nitrites. Then you stock up on chicken.

5. You buy juice boxes for lunches.

6. You run the AC even when you would not run it normally. More bodies in the house equals more heat.

7. You have your own IT expert and lots of technical gadgets at your disposal that you have little or no idea how to use, but you look very tech savvy.

8. Laundry is not increased by onefold, but by tenfold—and you cannot figure out why.

9. Your upstairs (which is where the bedrooms are in my house) is in a state of flux, which every day you are meaning to get to, but by the end of July you shrug your shoulders in defeat and think, “Oh well, he is going back to school in little over a month” so you just leave it that way.

10. You enjoy conversations in the middle of the night—a time once reserved for sleep.

11. You find size 12 shoes and sandals at the back door, the front door and under the dining room table (at least at my house).

12. The bathroom has been taken over by a myriad of hair care products that have not found a home.

And last but not least, you have someone home who appreciates you, because they have had to fix their own meals, do their own laundry, and generally face the world by themselves for eight or nine months (except for phone calls home, emails or text messages and the occasional visit home).

Family life is an ongoing and ever changing entity – it is the ultimate shape shifter.  All we can do is hang on and enjoy the ride, bumps and all.

Published in: on May 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm  Comments (20)  
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