09/05/2013 10:33 am ET Updated Nov 05, 2013

The Almost-Empty Nest

Three down and one to go. No, this is not a football game. It's the countdown in our house regarding children who are out the door and "somewhat" on their own. As each flew away, I did shed my tears. They were off to college and starting their adult life. Could I imagine them cooking and cleaning and caring for themselves? The answer is no, and that is why the computer and cell phone were really invented. Every issue, from defrosting frozen soup to fighting with the vacuum and then deciding not to vacuum ever, have been needs of immediacy from our children. We are their daily long-distance managers. But I like that. It keeps us close. I now know the most intimate information about my two kids and trust me -- it is way too much 411.

But back to the lonely third child at home. Here is what she hates:

  • She misses her siblings
  • She is stuck with us at dinner and does not want to talk
  • All eyes are on her -- as in the homework gnomes are on the attack
  • We ask too many questions, whereas they used to be spread out
  • We were so overwhelmed with three children that we missed most of the outrageous and illegal stuff they did -- yes, they smoked dope in the backyard and I do not want to know what else went on when we were not home. We are home more now (you tend to run out of money with the potential of three in college), so we can actually see the backyard
  • Number three believes she is more micro-managed. She is.
  • We insist on knowing where she is going and whom she is going with and she reminds us that we never did that with the other two. Really?

I think -- no, I know -- we are trying to hold onto her just a little bit more as she is the last. The quiet will be complete and overwhelming. There will be no messy rooms to whine and threaten about. Dinners of only spaghetti and chicken will be gone. We'll have no idea where she is or with whom. And she is not the child who shares so any 411 to be extracted have to come now and with a great deal of pressure. I admit it; I don't want her to go. The potential of the total empty nest frightens me. I'm actually crying as I write this.

And because she is so tired of just us, her desire to get out has her running, not walking, through the college doors. She will be the independent one who will figure it all out without the daily phone call or text to Mom and Dad. So, how often can we call her? If she won't share, can we pry? How often can we visit? And can I cry when she walks out the door? Even with a whole school year to go I sympathize with Moms and Dads who bemoan their empty nest and try to figure out how to spend that extra emotional time.

Nikki, I will miss you so much my heart breaks at the thought. Wow! Did this all go fast. I just hope you three guys will all show up for Thanksgiving. Turkey for two just won't work.