Empty Nests and Husbands

Back in the day before children…

Pretend we are sitting down with cups of tea for a little chat.  I’d like to share a little of what is on my heart.  In five more days, I will officially have an empty nest.  I don’t really like that term.  “Empty” sounds so sad, forlorn and for lack of a better term, empty.  My nest will not be empty.  Empty of children, yes.  Empty of people, no.  My husband and I will still reside there.

I knew this day was coming sooner rather than later, so I have been trying to prepare myself.  When you literally live half a world away from your children, I think it can hit you pretty hard.  Missionary families do everything together.  Each activity will be a reminder of the child that is no longer there to do this or that with you.  There will be no visits for the holidays, birthdays or “just because.”  We do have modern technology, so there will still be the long phone calls.

As I began preparing for this day, I asked some friends who have gone before me what helped them through this stage.  One conclusion that we all came to is that this time of life can be trying.  We are “losing” our kids, our bodies are changing in a manner that can make us think we are losing our minds and we have aging parents.  Some of us have already lost or are facing losing the parents we hold so dear.  This reality can surely shake what we thought was a sure foundation.  I am finding that the foundation is sure.  It is strong, but we will not know this if we do not keep our focus on our God Who.never.changes!

As you approach the empty nest, you will find that men and women approach this very differently.  It does not mean that they do not think about it and even go through a time of grief of their own.  In case you haven’t noticed, men don’t show their feelings like women do.  I also think there is a side to them that is actually looking forward to these days.  There are several episodes on the Cosby show where the father is rejoicing and throwing a party every time a child leaves home.  It’s just one child closer to having his wife to himself.  =)  His “wife” didn’t seem to feel the same way.

Whenever I would talk about how lonely it will be and how empty the house will be without the kids, my dear hubby looked a little forlorn.  When I shared this with a friend, she told me that when her last child started college, she wanted to get a full-time job.  She told her husband all the good that could come from it of which one point would be more income.  Her husband’s response was “Why can’t you just take care of me?”  As I thought on this, I wondered if this might be what my husband is thinking.

As I prepare to drop off that last child at college on Friday and for my return trip to Japan and my husband, there is much to look forward to.  It will be difficult to adjust to the lack of commotion at home.  It feels strange not to be preparing for another homeschool year, but there is much to do.  I will be available to be more of a help meet for my husband.  I have more classes to teach.  I will be studying Japanese is an effort to communicate better with the women around me.  I will be making a comfortable “nest” for the wonderful man that I married.  And who knows…maybe there will be a whole lot more dating going on than we ever had the time for before!  😉

5 thoughts on “Empty Nests and Husbands

  1. Joy Parrott

    Thanks for sharing those good thoughts, Kim. I like the emphasis. While not without a couple of grown kids living at home with us, Don and I often find ourselves alone together–and are enjoying the abundance of “date” time; even while missing the kids. I admit I’m anticipating the actual “empty nest” with a measure of sadness.

  2. . . . and eating out is cheaper, or you can stay home instead and eat on the couch while you watch Andy Griffith reruns . . . and you can enjoy doing those things you always said you’d do sometime when you had more time, and you can REJOICE that you have raised young adults who can handle life and do God’s will on their own–and that was the goal all along! We think an empty nest is highly underrated. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

  3. Karen Winch - Douala, Cameroon

    I appreciate everything that has been said here and agree with all of it. Don and I have had an empty nest since 1998 and I don’t find it getting easier as the years go by, being on the mission field so far from our children and grandchildren. It is not hard when we are in the U.S. on furloughs because then we have that wonderful time of being with our children and grandchildren between meetings, but days still get lonely on the field without the children. Particularly, we are in a city where there are no other American missionaries. The nearest American missionary family is 5 hours away. Our children were such a huge part of our lives and ministry for so many years. As Kim said, we did everything together on the mission field. When Don would be gone for reasons of ministry, the children and I would still always be together. Now when Don has to be gone I am completely alone unless I go with him, which is not always feasible. So I find that when I am having one of “those” days, I need to get busy doing anything and that helps a lot. I can read extra chapters in my Bible and/or get out to make visits or go shopping or tackle a project I’ve put off. These distractions are helpful for me. There is one thing that I had to learn, though. God made me a mother and grandmother. That is who I am. Therefore, if a day comes when I miss my children badly and sadness grips my heart (and there are still those days) and even if I feel a tear close to the surface, that is o.k. There is no reason for guilt because I AM what God made me. The doldrums or sadness rarely lasts more than one day at a time and with God’s grace, tomorrow is always so much better.

  4. Though I still have one at home who will start college locally soon, we’ve had pockets of empty nest time when he has been away. Since my oldest son moved away two years ago, I do still miss him intensely, but it has lessened some since then.

    We’ve discovered there are some perks. We can “pick up and go” like we used to before kids. We’ve had 28 years of dividing and conquering errands — one would stay with the kids while the other did certain tasks, or we’d divide up the kids and each go accomplish certain things (they’d cut grass while I’d go to the store, they’d go to the hardware store while I made dinner, etc.). And I’m realizing we can actually go do things together. What i struggle with now is saying yes when he asks me if I want to go to Home Depot with him. I think, “We’ll be spending the whole evening together when he gets back, and I’d rather have some alone time at home while he is gone.” And I need to learn to set that aside and go, at least sometimes.

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