It sometimes may seem like life is full of fun and games in the Empty Nest and for a good majority of time, it can be. However, in between the handcrafted cocktails, delightful weekend trips and the overall freedom, there is silence. Not the "Are the kids finally asleep?" silence, but the "This house is too quiet." type of silence. When the college students go off to school the dynamics in the household will obviously change, but the sounds of the family change as well. On most days, I can absolutely hear a pin drop, the house is now eerily quiet. As Simon and Garfunkel sang, the "sound of silence" in my Empty Nest is what distresses me most, now that the kids are gone.
When the house is full of teenagers and activities, it is constantly abuzz and it is rarely quiet. We hear the cell phones ringing, the music blasting, video games bombing and we hear the best sound of all... laughter. =My husband and I laugh of course, but the sound of our laughter is not the same as our child's. You know exactly what I mean. I love to hear anyone laugh, especially a young child. It is infectious. Did you ever see the video that went viral with the baby laughing at the dog and the bubbles? I loved that video.
My daughter and her friends would either be hanging out in her room upstairs or in the kitchen with me and always laughing and chatting. Now that both kids have left, I don't listen for the sound of the garage door opening that announces their arrival. I also don't listen for a pack of noisy teenage boys showing up late on a Friday night rummaging in the kitchen looking for food... "Hi Mrs. Stavert!" Oh, I miss the sound of that.
What exactly does silence sound like? As much as my husband loves to hear the sounds of the city, I like the quiet of sitting in the yard with a book and warm sunshine on my face. However, as much as I welcome the stillness and peace of suburban life, it's the absence of family noise, the unwanted silence, I don't enjoy. Some types of noise can be comforting and familiar, like when the kids have come home from their night out on the weekend, we listen to them in the kitchen sharing stories of their evening and watching Saturday Night Live. Now that is actually music to my ears. I have to wait for Christmastime now to hear both of my children downstairs, because my oldest lives too far away to come very often.
Hearing the banter between my two kids used to make me nuts, it likely meant a spat was about to happen, but now I look forward to it because it means they are both home, at least for a short time, together.
I cannot deny that this post tugged at my heartstrings. I put on a brave face on most of the time, but it truly is an enormous adjustment when your children leave the nest. The good news is that I have done my job well (Craig helped too) and our children are independent, capable and adventurous. They have become everything and more than I could have dreamed of, but they are not here with me, in our home, creating those reassuring sounds. The comforting sounds of my family.
The simple fact is that you can read book after book about child rearing, but no one can truly prepare you for what happens when your children turn 18 and leave the nest. I know they are not "leaving me" exactly, but they are not living here any longer. We need to accept, adjust and ultimately persevere in this newly quiet Empty Nest. This is a new chapter in our lives and it comes with a warning label: Beware of the sound of silence.