The youngest went to prom, graduated high school, worked a summer job, and is college-bound: all finalized. Thank God. My babies are spreading their wings. I am amazed at how fast time flies, and looking back, I’m surprised how we persevered through all the drama, trauma, fears, tears, sleepless nights, and chaos. I can hardly believe the fruit we produced from the dysfunction; two wonderful children-not perfect, accomplishing some goals, choosing to better themselves, doing the right thing, practicing positivity and gratitude, and having fun and excitement. I’m proud of them. So far, so good. Two down, one to go—with the one being me, I hope. But in the meantime, now what and what now. What will my spouse and I do in this empty nest.

The kid’s futures look hopeful. They’re grown and have flown the coop. What about my future. Three weeks into the empty nest, my spouse approached me about rekindling the relationship. I’m lonely and out-of-sorts. I feel like I’ve been demoted. My mommy duties have been reduced, and if I want to see my kids, I use Face Time. I’m vulnerable, and my spouse is taking advantage of it, and maybe I’ll let him. Do I want to be on my own. We sit down and set rules to keep an open mind and be honest and respectful. My spouse speaks first. I listen and listen and listen to the monologue sprinkled with half-truths. I don’t interrupt to correct the fibs.  It’s my turn; I clarify the half-truths, comment on the good, the bad, and the ugly; I speak about forgiveness and my issues, then set my boundaries—what I will and will not tolerate. And what my wants and needs are. My limitations, conditions, and wants are primarily rooted in the golden rule and doing things together. I stated my need for intimacy, not necessarily the sexual acts, which felt like wham bam, thank you, ma’am.  My spouse interrupted me with the ‘that’s just the way I am’ routine, which suggests he’s unwilling to grow or at least try to satisfy me. I calmly continued and got interrupted again, and we overtalk each other. I de-escalate a potential argument, and we agree to table the conversation for another day, take it one day at a time, be respectful, and see what unfolds. I have a feeling the empty nest will turn into an empty-messy nest.

I focus on the positive aspects of the empty nest and enjoy extra time on my hands…and energy. I continue to build my finances. After work, I don’t have to do anything except relax, light a candle, and watch an old black-and-white movie without interruption. I don’t even have to cook every day, but when I do cook, it’s a quick meal for one or two, depending on the mood. I walk more. My house stays clean longer, and there is less laundry. It gets loneliest at night because it’s quiet, too quiet. The stillness of the empty bedrooms, windows closed, muted Tv’s, and tech toys silenced sends me into a fit of tears. The good news is that the kids are not far away. Empty nesting is scary and bittersweet.  It’s a difficult transition and another reality to accept.

Months into the empty nest, we’re going with the flow. There have been a few improvements, but I’m still held hostage by my spouse’s moods.  I try to keep the atmosphere light and easy and reluctantly give in to his selfish demands.  We’re trying, but I feel empty with the kids gone and wonder if my future includes my spouse.