Empty Nest Weekends
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I was slow to notice I was an empty nester. It all started when my oldest joined the army after high school graduation. He was enrolled to start college in the fall, but then I had a business trip and was gone for the weekend, When I came back, he told me he and his friend had enlisted, while I was out of town. Thank goodness this was in the 90’s and not today.
My youngest was still in high school when this happened. My major recollection of life style change when the first child left the nest was that the grocery bill dropped for the first time ever. Suddenly I was able to afford a vacation by saving money rather than spending it at the grocery store.
When the second one graduated from high school, I found I had free time on the weekends. No school gym or ball field requiring my presence, no teammates to shuttle around. My youngest went on to college, he lived at home for the first year, before he got an apartment with several other guys.
After being a single parent for 19 years, between kids and work I never had a free weekend. What a change that was, I was so bored I started dating. Within a couple of years I ended up re-married. No more free weekends and two step-daughters!
My oldest son came back from the army safe and sound, Thank God!. He then headed off to college, also in college were my youngest son and my youngest step-daughter. My oldest step daughter was just out of college and working. The family had enlarged rather than shrunk.
Then there was the year of moves, oldest son moved from one college to another, oldest daughter moved from mid-west to California, youngest son moved to St. Louis and youngest daughter changed apartments at her university town. My husband and I participated in all the moves either physically and/or financially. Just visiting the kids at their dorms, new apartments…. seemed to fill many of those free weekends.
Fast forward a few years and now we have four kids all graduated from college and/or post college ( Happy parent dance here). They live in four different states (not just states of mind). This past Thanksgiving weekend we celebrated our second year of full child employment and a new grandson.
Kids are visiting us in shifts over the holidays some for Thanksgiving and some for Christmas. This offers many new challenges but more on that later….
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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