Tag Archives: Empty Nest

Adulting Not Parenting

They say that getting old isn’t for the faint of heart. I tend to agree with that sentiment, but I’ve managed to add an entirely different dimension to the equation. I did’t become a parent until I was 55 years old. That’s when we adopted our oldest daughter from the People’s Republic of China. When I was 59 we did it again. Now I’m 75 and I still have a 19 year old living at home, as well as a 21 year old.

When my oldest graduated high school, I kind of panicked. I hadn’t been thinking much about what happens when the kids grow up and go out on their own. Everything I’d done for them was with that end result in mind, but I hadn’t given much though to how it would affect me. I took it hard. Even though she wasn’t leaving anytime soon, I went through a painful cycle of distress and remorse. I was certain I’d messed up somewhere along the way and it was too late to fix it. I spent an entire day drying on the shoulders of several friends, just to get it off my chest. I finally discovered that spending a little time talking to her, and being the recipient of her ‘tude was enough to set me straight and I was able to get over it.

Still, last night she went to house sit for some friends for the next 10 days and I already miss her. Even though she barely came out of her room and I could go a couple of days without seeing her, the knowledge she’s not here is somehow distressing. I think maybe it’s because I really want to spend some quality time with her, just talking about life and family, etc. Every since we adopted our second daughter, she needed so much attention I wasn’t able to give my oldest the kind of attention I had been giving her previously. Thankfully, it turns out she’s strong and independent – just like I had hoped.

I know I’ll get over this feeling. After all, I’ve been patiently waiting to get back to a little adulting after all this parenting. I am looking forward to both of them getting a bit older and more independent. That’s when I think the really good conversations will happen. I just hope I live long enough to see, and experience, it.


I Feel Much Better Now

I think I wrote the following a couple of weeks ago. Shortly after my oldest participated in her final dance recital at Santa Susana High School, I was hit by the realization my baby is now an emancipated adult. She just got notification of her registration to vote yesterday. I was a little beside myself but, as you can tell, it passed fairly quickly, in large part due to numerous friends who were willing to listen and allow me to vent, which helped me understand what I was feeling.
Aimee Grajeeatin’

As many of you know, the impending graduation and emancipation of my oldest has hit me kind of hard with a case of “empty nest” syndrome. I know my grief is unwarranted, especially since she’s not leaving the house for the foreseeable future, and I know I’ll get over it; already am. Please don’t worry about me. Two things (among many) I’ve learned so far:

1. My greatest sense of loss involves time and it’s having passed. “Did I do the right things?” “did I help her enough?”; “did I neglect her by paying too much attention to her younger sister, who desperately needed it (still does)?”

2. Merely talking to Aimee helps for two reasons. The first is she reassures me I have been a good father and she feels no lack of love or attention. That feels good. The second is related, because talking to just about any teen with tude is often enough to make you want to cut yourself. Doesn’t feel as good, but I’m real familiar with it.

I really appreciate everyone who has reacted to, or commented on, my cries of agony. Special thanks to those whose shoulders I cried on, both figuratively and literally. Y’all are wonderful therapists.


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