By Anu Chitrapu
BOSTON–Hundreds of families in the US are experiencing the ‘empty nesters’ syndrome this week. Many of us have left our last child in a college dorm that is out of state, across the country or even across the globe. More tears have been shed this week at homes across the US than in the entire year!
So what are parents doing or planning to do to get over this very emotional milestone? If you, like me, are planning on completing all those half done projects from the last 18 years, or getting your house organized into the perfect place you always dreamed about, think again!
This first week of having no kids at home turned out to be very different for us than what we had imagined. For starters, I thought once the kids were out of the house, I would take my time getting dressed for work in the morning and get into work looking like many of those perfect moms I always admired and envied. But here I was on Monday morning, taking a quick shower and grabbing the first set of clothes I could get my hands on because the planned weekend closet organizing did not happen! I was hoping this would be the day I would change my earrings to match my clothing but I had no idea where the jewelry from the last decade was hiding. I was planning on wearing those heels I had bought years back but stopped wearing after I slipped while running after my daughter with her lunch box when she was in elementary school – but I had given those away! And my nails were once again short, boring and with no planned color (any food coloring, stains etc. does not count). I ended up brushing my hair on the way downstairs — not because I did not have time but simply because after all these years of doing so, my brain thought the place to brush your hair is the staircase and the time to do it is while going downstairs! And finally I could not apply the transformative makeup because I did not own any.
Funnily, I did not have to make lunch and pack it, I did not have to worry about any after school drop offs or pick ups, and I did not have to plan dinner. Yet, I got to work at the same time as always, looking like I always did and my day was just like any other day.
When I got home in the evening, instead of making the healthy quinoa dish that I always wanted to make but did not because the kids did not like it, I decided to pull leftovers out of the refrigerator and convert them into a meal for two!
The most amount of free time empty nesters have is in the evening after getting home from work. Of course that means it is the time that you can get really, really productive. The time to clear out the attic, clean up the basement, repair that netting on the porch window, winter proof the house, throw out the packets of mac and cheese that expired in 2000 … or take a break from all the years and turn on Netflix! And that is exactly what we did. We started binge watching a series that has been keeping us up till almost midnight every night. And adding darker circles to the dark circles under our eyes. Work days are getting more difficult due to lack of sleep. Instead of the reading I used to do on the T ride to work every morning, I catch myself catching some zzzzs. And while we are binge watching there is really no time to cook those healthy quinoa meals so we have been doing take out almost every night this week. We keep telling ourselves this is only because it is the first week of being empty nesters. Soon we will get used to having free time and we will use it wisely — my husband says he is going to buy a new toolkit (the old one has rusted due to lack of use) and complete all those handyman projects he never started. Soon our porch door will not be propped up with a rock anymore; all the kitchen cupboard knobs will shine once again; that curtain rod in the guest room will actually be able to support a curtain …
All those projects will get done. Heck, I might surprise everyone at work by wearing matching jewelry and showing up at work with straight, shiny hair! But all that has to wait till we finish Season 8 of Game of Thrones and Season 7 of The Good Wife and Season 4 of Billions.
Did I mention, we are really missing having the kids at home? Goodbye kids! Well hello Netflix!