Empty Nest Syndrome on Repeat
Adult Children Living at Home
My experience was probably similar to many other moms/parent’s across the country. I had two college kids in out of state schools when COVID brought our state/country to a screeching halt in March. My daughter was home on Spring Break when the country started to shut down and we grew concerned about what her education would look like for the remainder of the semester.
We both cried when she received news that she could not return to Kansas State University for her education, job and regular life.
I cried because God answered my prayer for being so lonely. You see, I homeschooled my kiddos for 10 years. Education at home was normal to us. Our family was built for pandemic life because being together all the time was normal to us.
When my kids both left for college at the same time for out of state schools, thousands of miles away, that was not normal to us. Add into the mix a recent move taking us 2 hours from where we raised our kids to a tiny house in the country where we knew no one. Again, not normal. My kids had never lived in this tiny house and somehow we were going to have to squeeze her into it, and my son who would eventually return home as well.
She and I eventually developed a routine back under our roof and we moved through Spring and Summer rather smoothly, it really did seem normal.
My son on the other hand had a much different experience. Due to the distance from home, school schedule and honestly not much room for him to live under our roof, instead of him returning home right away, he stayed at GCU in Phoenix, AZ. Again, I feel like God had prepared us for these moments of crisis and uncertainty. We had previously experienced a couple of crisis moments with our son that had already help us loosen the strings so to speak.
I could either ‘trust God with my son or, not’ was my mantra through those experiences. I had to hold onto the assurance that God, being a good, good Father, would bring him home safely in his time. And, God did just that.
It was a magical moment for this mom to have her family tightly packed into our tiny nest.
Then came Fall, everyone returned to their out of state schools and my heart grew lonely again. I remember almost being paralyzed with fear thinking of sending my kids across the country during a pandemic . The “what if” thoughts were starting to consume me. I’ve walked with the Lord long enough to know I quickly needed to get my thoughts under control.
I set my Bible study ladies to praying for me to take my thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5). I had to make a mental decision to not let those thoughts consume me. (It was tough at the beginning but we’re almost to the end of the school year and now it’s much easier to check those ‘what if’ thoughts at the door of my mind.) We were able to finally find a church to attend and that helped get me through to the holidays when everyone was home again.
Fast forward to today, when I read your email I exclaimed, “That’s it! Boomerang Nesters!” Only I’ve felt it now for what seems like the third time! This, on top of the Lord reminding me this morning of a crazy 2019 when I relied so heavily on Jesus being my friend, has helped me identify these emotional, sad and lonely feelings. Now I need to get back to asking Jesus to help me as a friend everyday, in little and big ways.
He was faithful in the past to see me through the seasons of empty nest, so I’m sure He will be faithful again. I read a few books during my first season of the empty nest. When both my kids left for out of state colleges, at the same time, I read ‘Release My Grip’ by Kami Gilmour, which I wish I had read earlier because it was so helpful.
During the second year of them being far away, I was a pre-reader for Jill Savage’s ‘Empty Nest; Full Life’. Again, I wished I had this resource earlier. I appreciate and related to her perspective and thoughts. I should probably pick them back up again because they were so helpful!
In conclusion, the disappointments and excitement of this season, continue. My daughter graduated in December of 2020, with little to no fanfare and landed a job in St. Louis, MO making this momma proud. (And happy that she’s only an hour and a half from home instead of the seven hours that she was in Kansas.) My son will graduate in 3 weeks and has chosen to skip the limited graduation ceremony. We’re hopeful to celebrate his accomplishments by camping in a National Park. We’re thankful to have this season of college nearly behind us, hopeful we can survive this next season of ‘adulthood’:)
God is good. I’ll survive this season. It’s comforting to know there are others out there that feel the same way I do even if I can’t see them. This central Illinois momma, that’s surrounded by corn and beans, thanks you.
Deanna said this about her experience with her boomerang daughter:
Like most college kids our daughter came home almost a year from today. She was trying to stay in Fayetteville as long as she could but there was so much uncertainty we finally said. “Time to come home”. We were already planning to have her home last summer to work in Houston so we were very excited to have her back home.
We looked at the pandemic as an added bonus time with her. She is the planner in the family. We had fun meals daily, she did the grocery shopping and planned our days out. Workouts, walks, pool time ( it was hot in Houston), baking, games and oh yeah she and my 16 year old son did virtual school.
We also made care packages for the grandmother. We had so much fun making them that we sent several family members birthday boxes. There was never a dull moment in our house. She is a hospitality major with a minor in event planning so she used her creativity during her time home.
She planned a Mexican themed birthday for me, our 25th wedding anniversary, then our friends paid her to throw their daughters a 16th birthday party at their lake house where we did social distancing as best we could.
We definitely made some fantastic memories in 2020. I know their was so much sadness around the pandemic but we did not let it creep into our house. We truly looked at it as a gift to have her home for the extend amount of time. We know we will never get that back.
Valentine Care Package Party
You can never go wrong inviting some friends over and hosting a care package party!
Getting together with friends, visiting, and making boxes for your kids will lift everyone’s spirits.
Tammy feels good about the comings and goings of her nest. She shared this:
Hi -I did not experience this. I actually had my son move from Florida to Texas. My kids are 23 and 26 and I found you through your wonderful care packages;) I have experienced my son going away to college for 4 years, coming home a year and then moving to Texas (26 yr old). My daughter stayed here after graduating high school, started working and soon after I took her to California to spend her 21st birthday at the vineyards, she moved out. She lives 20 mins away .. I would say I am a good “old nester.”
Moms, however you feel about your adult children living at home and coming and going, you are not alone. Our empty nests are sometime boomerang nests, but that is ok. Each time they come requires adjustment and each time they leave requires adjustment. Don’t try to do it alone. It does not have to be a care package party, but do reach out to a friend or two for companionship and fun! We are all in this together!!
The journey is the same whether you are experiencing it for the first time or are experiencing it on repeat. Here are some Almost Empty Nest resources which will help when your adult children living at home leave again: