The house is quiet again. With DD2 gone off to college for her second year, and all our other offspring living on their own, the nest is empty; it's just DH and I. We did have a brief time, about two months this spring, between when DS1 and family moved out, and DD2 came home for the summer, that it was also just DH and I, but I don't think that really counted. Because during those weeks, we focused on DS1's recent move, the school year drawing to an end, and guiding DD2 in finding summer employment, and then moving her back home.
This time, it feels more like the real thing. DS1 has gainful employment and his own home; they most likely won't need to move back in with us. DS2 has even better employment than his brother, he definitely will not be asking to move home. DD1 has about another year of college left, and there has been a definite increase in the talk of a wedding between her and Honorary Son; she'll be moving into a starter home with him more than likely, once her degree is complete. DD2, while only barely started her second year of college, is all ready working on getting an internship in her field next summer, which would mean she won't be moving back home next May.
This might actually be it. The beginning of DH and my empty nest.
I can unabashedly say I'm ecstatic. The only people I need to keep track of are me, myself and I; and, to a lesser extent, DH. No worrying over who is where, doing what, with whom, and when they will be home (or why they aren't home by now). No hearing "I don't like that" at least a few meals a week. Only two people using (and dirtying) the house. The shower, and the washing machine, are vacant and ready any time my heart desires to use them. I've been working on compiling, and ticking off, a list of things that I want or feel the need to do.
DH, on the other hand, seems to be the one with empty nest syndrome. It's only been four days since we left DD2 at her dorm, but every day when he arrives home from work, DH asks "Did you hear from DD2 today?" (Yes, she did call yesterday, ecstatic about a particular class she didn't think she would like that has turned out to have a professor who does exactly the research she would like to do--wolves--once she is finished with school.) And after we discuss that DH asks
"Did you hear from DD1 today?" followed by
"Did you hear from DS2 today?" and after that
"Have you heard from DS1 or K2? How are K3 and Toad doing?"
He also talks about Thanksgiving, when DD2 will be home on break next. And Christmas, and how perhaps we should plan a family camping outing with everyone next summer. Plan it now, so they all have plenty of time to put in for vacation days at work.
I suspect that having all the kids grown up is harder on him than it is on me. I feel like I have completed a long (and sometimes not so fun) career and am now looking into what I would like to do as a second (less demanding? less time consuming?) career. No regrets, I gave it my all, and I know I've left nothing back in that first career. I was there, most every time, for most everything. I think I've earned this 'retirement'.
DH, however, seems to be feeling the loss of every child's birthday, sports game, and special event he missed due to his being at work (either away traveling, or just long hours at the office) during the raising of our kids. He seems to be wanting regular and frequent contact with them now, while I'm drawing a satisfied breath, putting my feet up, and enjoying the elbow room and the quiet. I heard their voices daily for decades, I don't yearn to hear them daily now.
Maybe this is where my challenge of adjusting to an empty nest will be. Not in the 'loss' of my children, but in the anxiety and doubts of my husband.