Three generations of women — my grandmother, my mother and me. Connected by the thread of motherhood but with three very different experiences.
I write about life in the empty nest because it is what I know. Not exactly what I planned for, but how things turned out.
I had an interesting text message from my mother a few weeks ago. This is what she said:
Reading your blog made me wonder why I never felt like I had an empty nest. The reason is when you left for college, Andy (my younger brother) started high school. When Andy left for college, you came home. Shortly after you married, daddy died and mother became a responsibility. And then came grandchildren.
My mom never had to wonder what to do next. She just did what was necessary in her circumstances.
My grandmother was from a different era. I don’t know that women of her generation thought much about an empty nest. They were more likely to live close to extended family.
For many years, my grandparents and their four children, in-laws and grandchildren all lived in the same town. We actually lived in the same neighborhood for nearly a decade. We did a lot together — lunch every Sunday after church, every major holiday at my grandparents’ house and even vacations together, including our annual family reunion in Cairo, Georgia. It was an idyllic childhood.
Maybe that is why I have trepidation about this empty nest experience of mine. It is so different from what I knew growing up. I wonder what my daughter’s experience will be if she has children.
A couple of years ago I was talking with some friends at a college reunion. We compared experiences after college. From Schnectedy, New York to Lakeland, Florida, most of us returned to our hometowns after graduating from college. Our adult children? That’s a different story. Most of them chose to live and work somewhere other than where they were raised.
Maybe it’s a generational thing. Who knows?
The empty nest is not my favorite but I’m coming to terms with it. Technology helps — texting and FaceTime keep me connected to my two. And I do enjoy the benefits like the ability to travel with my husband. I think it’s all about perception.
Can you relate? Is your experience different than that of your parents, your children? How do you deal with it?