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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20 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I look forward to the years when I am appreciated. How much longer? We are just entering the hormonal “my parents know nothing” years with our oldest. Though sometimes a slammed bedroom door and the resulting quiet is quite nice..

    • lol – my boys are in their twenties–and appreciation is in the eyes of the beholder–sometimes though I just have a good imagination – and imagine I am appreciated–and sometimes I really am appreciated–

  2. Interesting article; I never thought about the transition of when a someone leaves and comes back yet I’ve already experienced it.

    Also, why is it you said you would not use wikipedia? Is it because it’s a contribution to the revolution of internet and the epidemic of laziness? 😛


    • For a while I just did not trust the concept-still not sure I do –but there are attributes to laziness I guess

  3. Accurate and funny! I also swore I wouldn’t use Wikepdia too, it’s a slippery slope….

  4. well, I put my boots on

  5. I like your definition of a family as being the ultimate shape shifter. Family is always in flux. It has taken me a while to get used to this and accept it as I am not one to embrace change. Just let it be and roll with it…

    • change is the only thing we can depend on according to some philosophers – what a shame for people like you and I who have to embrace it whether we want to or not–I like your conclusion – we just have to let it be and roll with it

  6. #10 is what I miss most. But that changes when my younger daughter/boomerang child comes home for the summer! I can hardly wait – for longer grocery lists, bigger breakfasts, and having someone else walk the dog…or someone else to walk the dog with.

  7. You know that laundry thing #8….for some reason even when they move away for good, the laundry keeps coming back, boomerang laundry!

    • that is funny – just how does that happen – boomerang laundry sounds like a great chapter in a book

  8. Sounding too familiar! Only now my boys are off to California, and don’t plan on moving home anytime soon. But we have a warm place to visit, and that’s good. Funny how things work out…

    • now they can buy extra toilet paper for you when you visit and buy your favourite foods!

  9. Wow – great advice: “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.” Love this post.

  10. I really LOVE this…oh, so true! Thanks for sharing. You have a wonderful way of describing a multitude of people’s daily lives.
    You Matter! Smiles, Nancy

  11. […] Semi-Empty Nest Syndrome ( […]

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