This article in the NYT regarding empty nests was sort of interesting. The premise is that marriages actually improve once the children are out of the house. It also states that there is an adjustment period for mothers, especially. From my own perspective, I find both of these things to be true. When my youngest left for college, I was exhausted. I had recently quite working (Wellness Specialist - at a local hospital in their Wellness Department running first the Travel Immunization Program, later other wellness programs such as Women's Health, blood work, etc.) We had also moved to Portland, Oregon where we had insisted our oldest transfer from the university she had been attending to one where we could keep an eye on her. She was one of those really bright kids that graduated a year early from high school, but had lost her balance in the intervening few years. She was simply too young to handle college. We made a gross error in thinking she was. At any rate, our move had coincided with the last year of our younger daughter's last year of high school. She had attended the same set of schools K-12. To say she was not happy about a transfer to a school in Portland, in the latter part of her junior year, is an absolute understatement. She hated Portland and her new high school. She was lonely and didn't feel like she fit in. She had played varsity soccer all three years at her old school in Reno, and knew she probably didn't have a chance in hell to play her senior year in Portland. Those spots are almost always saved for the students that have played the other two or three years.
So we made a decision to allow her to return to Reno and finish her senior year at her old school. She had to stay with friends that were in the school district in order to play varsity ball. This worked out pretty well. I spent the soccer season at our home in Tahoe, (in order to attend all her games,) and she stayed with said friends. (We had sold our home in Reno, keeping our condo at Lake Tahoe, which is about 25 minutes from Reno.) The problem? At seventeen, and physically away from her parents, she thought she was emancipated. You can imagine the issues that ensued.
So here we were, one daughter drinking too much, partying too much, out of control, living in Portland. One daughter living away from home, too young and immature, to realize she was not capable of making some of the decisions necessary to be truly on one's own, living in Reno. Me going back and forth between Oregon and Nevada. My husband working at a new job, new field, and wondering what the heck happened to our happy little family. By that time soccer was over and we moved her into two of our best friend's home (who have known her since before she was born), and tried to get through the rest of the school year.
My point in all this? An empty nest is not all bad. Our girls have grown up and turned into responsible adults, dealt with their issues, and are just wonderful to be around. But as the article states, it is a good feeling to not be the one responsible any more. We raised them, we did the best we could do, but the rest is up to them. And that is okay, believe me!