Our Nest Empties of More than Our Kids
Although my kids moved out years ago (has it really been that long?) I’m starting to notice things I no longer keep in the house. I don’t mean the obvious like piles of laundry, messy rooms, and a sink full of dishes I didn’t use. No, I mean the more subtle things. The products I no longer use and the foods I no longer eat, the occupation of my space.
Here are a few things which moved out when my kids left the nest:
- Goldfish (the kind you eat)
- Feminine hygiene products
- Boxed macaroni and cheese
- Random animals (guinea pigs, hamsters, lizards other than the suicidal ones I see once in awhile…)
- Bagel bites
- Constant noise of some kind
What Fills the Empty Space
I could go on, and it will vary from person to person. But what about what moved in when the kids flew the coop? Here are a few things, years later I’m still discovering and loving:
- An entire house all for me
- Clear space everywhere
- A clean kitchen every night
- Healthy food in my refrigerator and freezer
- Keeping my own crazy hours without worrying about disturbing anyone
- All the cats sleep with me
Adjusting to What’s Missing
Still, it isn’t all wine and roses. There are and always will be downsides to living alone. The biggest for me is being alone when I’d rather not be. I’m basically an introvert, so I’m not likely to just go out by myself to a place where I don’t know people to avoid being alone on a Friday night.
Most of my friends still work outside their homes and often need a quiet Friday night to relax and detox. As I’ve been working from home and only seeing people when I wanted to, I’m usually in a pretty mellow state by Friday and wouldn’t mind some company of my own choosing. Nevertheless, most Friday nights I spend alone.
Other areas where living alone can be hard are:
- No one there if you fall in the shower and can’t get up or even reach the phone
- No one to hold you when you’re sad or lonely
- No one to take you to the doctor or go get you soup if you’re sick
- No one there if you need an extra set of hands
- No one to help with the chores
- No one to talk to when you don’t feel like being alone
- Dinner in front of the TV or at your desk gets old after awhile
- Cooking for one (need I say more?)
Empty Nest: A Blessing and a Curse
Needless to say, adjusting to the pros and cons once the kids move out for all us single parents out there definitely has its highs and lows. We learn to adjust to the lows and fill our lives with enough activity to keep us from wallowing. We learn how much alone is enough, and where it becomes too much to bear. Of course, pets are a huge benefit. Without them, I know I’d have crashed and burned a few times when life threw too many tough things at me, or gave me too much time alone.
You could say people who are extroverted have an easier time of it, but do they really? I have extroverted friends who struggle over the same things I do. Maybe they manage them differently, but you can only go out alone so often, even to crowded places without finding yourself in “lonely town” in spite of the crowds.
Sure, we chit chat on social media or talk to our pets. We may private message or text back and forth. But it’s not the same as human contact. It’s definitely not the same as having someone around at least part of the time who cares how you’re feeling, how your day went, and what’s making you feel anxious at times. Nor will it ever replace a good, old-fashioned, heartfelt hug that’s made especially for you.
The Beauty of Human Contact
My social circle; my friends are real huggers. We hug hello. We hug good-bye. We hug because we know someone needs it, or because we know they’re having a tough time. We hug for joy when someone has wonderful news. We hug for no reason at all. Still, there is the hug from someone who believes you are their moon, sun, and stars. It’s the most special kind of hug, and one I haven’t felt in a very long time.
How can you miss something that’s so far in the past as to have been forgotten or so distant as to be more a dream than a memory? Some things embed themselves into the very fiber of our being. We don’t need to remember. It’s just there. And it’s the single most unpleasant part of always being alone; of putting the key in the lock, knowing only the cats will be waiting behind those doors. Of getting ready for bed every night knowing you’ll fall asleep alone, get up alone, and maybe not even talk to a single soul all day long.
Wondering if Anyone Would Notice
Too many times when I’m feeling especially low, I’ll ask myself “if I fell and hit my head, how many days would go by before someone even thought to check and see why I was so quiet? How many days would I be off social media before someone thought to ask why I hadn’t made a single peep?” If the times I’ve been sick for a few days, or simply boycotting social media are any indication, it could be a while.
My daughter is used to me not answering her at times. She knows I get busy with my writing and thinks nothing of radio silence for a few days. At least I’m pretty sure she does. I have yet to get panic calls or texts asking why I haven’t been responding when I’ve been out of touch for a few days.
Lest you think I spend all my days having a pity party, it’s really not so. I have created an active social life with some pretty amazing friends. But that doesn’t mean there are times I wish I wasn’t so alone whenever the door closed and the lights went out. It’s human nature to be connected. Much as I proclaim my love of solitude as an Introvert, there is such a thing as too much alone time. There are times I miss the clutter, the tension, and having to wipe the ketchup off the counter because someone was too lazy to clean it up.
I miss having someone there if I were to fall and hit my head.
Finding Gratitude at Every Turn
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for my amazing, loving friends.
- I am grateful for my cats who keep me company no matter what, and love me unconditionally.
- I am grateful I’ve learned to be more social.
- I am grateful I have an amazing gift in my writing which allows me to express things instead of burying them deep inside to fester and grow.
- I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, hugs, inspiration, joy, dancing, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward