How To Handle an Empty Nest


When my son decided to move out when he was 20 years old there was a lot of kicking and screaming -- from me. As you will soon learn from my posts, the bond I have with my son is very strong. His grandfather had given him and his cousins a little cash one holiday and he immediately said he was going to use it to move out. I understood how he felt. He was 20, working full-time, dating and partying. The thought of bringing a girl back to his parentʼs apartment...well, you know. So he moved out and I learned to let go. Since he worked pretty close, I made it a point to take him to lunch weekly and he came by after work to get free dinners -- a lot. He lived in Astoria, Queens which was 20 minutes away by train. So I also went out to see him and buy him groceries. What? Iʼm a jewish mother, the kidʼs gotta eat! After being gone for almost 18 months, he decided to move back home. Now my kid reads a lot so that meant bringing home everything he acquired during his time away. My husband and I had made his room our office, complete with moving our desktop. So he comes home and says “You gotta move the computer back to your room.” I replied with an expletive not for publication. So now my office is part office and part single 20ʼs guy bedroom with clothes and soda cans everywhere.

Itʼs like he never left.

This past summer my son took a vacation to visit Los Angeles. I was worried he was going to want to move to LA. Sure enough when he came back, he said thatʼs where he wanted to go. Now my son is a NYC kid and he never learned to drive so thereʼs that to deal with now. Plus the thought of packing up his shit again to move 3000 miles away, well letʼs just say, not gonna happen.

I said a lot of things, but the biggest was, “Take your time, you can always come back.” Recently, I was talking to a friend about his travels and she said “The next time he goes away he wonʼt be back.” And boy did that hit me straight in the heart. Plus LA, is not just a train ride away. So we wonʼt be able to rescue him if need be. But thatʼs the part of parenting no one talks about. You have a child only to see them grow up and leave. Itʼs kind of a shitty situation and you certainly wouldnʼt stand for it in your love life but we do when it comes to our kids. As parents we love them with all our hearts and then bye-bye mom, thanks for all the meals.

So if you’re like me having a tough time letting go, here are a few things that have helped me get through this:

  • A sense of humor. It helps.
  • Good friends. I have friends with different age children so we are able to help each other out in emotional jams.
  • Make sure you still like your husband. So much of your life together is raising your child so when you finally are just you two, you don't want to look over at breakfast thinking, "There he goes again with the breathing"
  • Plan ahead. I am anticipating going to LA a lot more under the guise of my career, but we all know being over 50 in Hollywood means no work, but he doesn't need to know that.
  • Have a good old fashioned cry.
  • Wine. Always wine.

(Insert heavy sigh) He hasnʼt even moved yet and I miss him already.