Empty Nest – Take Two

I should be in bed.  In fact, I was in bed but I couldn’t sleep.

Today (or yesterday when you read this), I returned from Utah where I deposited my girls back at college.  Thirty six hours after the Wedding Carnival we hopped in the car and drove 13 hours to Utah. We spent the next two days in a whirlwind getting them moved back into their apartments, unpacked, books purchased and groceries bought.

I also left behind my two boys.  One of them now settled in his first apartment with his new bride.

I was exhausted and full of emotion and I should be able to sleep.

Wednesday morning I got on a plane (leaving my car in Utah until I return in two weeks for another wedding celebration) and flew home in a sweet and quick one and a half hours.  I returned to my empty house.

I have to admit, after the craziness and whirlwind of the last couple of weeks it felt good.  The quiet.

After unpacking, I sat on my couch and proceeded to watch four episodes of White Collar and ate half a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream.  Something I never do but I think I earned it and my body and mind needed it.  It needed to do nothing for at least a couple of hours.

But then tonight I thought, “I wonder what Tessa is doing upstairs?”  Then I realized Tessa wasn’t upstairs.  Tessa wasn’t home for the summer anymore.  The noise and the fun that Cali brings with her every time she is home was gone too (she had been home for two weeks.) The busyness and activity of preparing for the Wedding Carnival was over.

My nest was once again empty and quiet.

Once again we are empty nesters.  I know I can do this, I have done it before but it will take a period of adjustment.  When I was in Utah my niece was sending her baby to kindergarten.  She had cried herself to sleep the night before.  I knew how she felt.  I had done the same thing and I would cry later that night when I said goodbye to my baby before returning home to Oregon.  I assured her it gets easier and you get use to it.  You do.   You get use to it.  And there are things about it you will learn to enjoy.  Those couple of free hours each day can be nice. It just takes a period of adjustment.  There will be a lot of adjustments in store for  her in the coming years.

I know I will once again adjust to being a empty nester.  I will get use to cooking for two although I will probably be throwing away a lot of salad.  I just can’t get that one down – making salad for two.  I will enjoy the luxury of not having to cook every night and just grabbing some quick take out.  I will enjoy the last minute weeknight dates to the movies or the symphony at the park like we will do tomorrow.

I will also enjoy throwing a back to school breakfast for my neighbor kids this weekend and hosting some friends for a Labor Day BBQ because I can’t let my nest stand empty for too long.  I can’t let my house be too quiet or too clean for too long.  The noise and the mess make me happy.

I have learned to adjust.  I will always be Logan, Clark, Cali and Tessa’s mother and they will always be my children. I have now added another child to that list – Jessica, my new daughter in law.  They may no longer live at home full time but they live in my heart on a daily and hourly basis.  They are in my thoughts and prayers continually.  I am blessed to be their mother and grateful for the 27 years I had one or all of them in our home.

Empty Nest – I can do this!



Leigh Anne
Hi – I’m Leigh Anne! I have been a homebased mom for 30 years since my first baby boy was born! I love working with women and helping to inspire them to achieve their goals and dreams while still maintaining motherhood and family as their number one priority. I blog about everything I enjoy – creating treats and meals in my kitchen, spending time in my garden, entertaining and party planning, reading, self improvement and tips and ideas on style and fashion.
Leigh Anne
Leigh Anne

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  1. says

    That was awesome and your kids are beautiful. You are very blessed and so “mature” – I have my oldest in college and my youngest in high school and I’m already stressing :) What lucky neighbors you have! God bless you!

  2. Tammy says

    I felt like crying when I read this. Yes – this will be an adjustment for you – and you will be fine. I have two teenage boys at home and dread the day I have to let them go. (Of course, my husband would beg to differ. ;o) ) Hang in there Leigh Anne. ~

  3. Heidi says

    Leigh Anne, I teared up reading that…….but it was comforting to hear. I have my oldest going off to high school next week and the though of four short years left before he leaves for college frightens me. It makes me emotional and my heart aches for my kids to be little again. The role of a mom is always changing and evolving and it just takes time getting used to. Just like me accepting that my son is a high schooler. Hang in there. You have four beautiful kids and have done a fantastic job as a mom. Pat yourself on the shoulder and keep looking up.

    • says

      Heidi, Thank you so much for your sweet comment. My children have grown up to be amazing people and that is what every mother wants but it is hard on the heart sometimes to have that role you spent so many years living change. I am learning though that different isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just different.

  4. Robyn Jean says

    Your post today made me tear up. I am only at the beginning, having two little boys 2 and 1 and I know that someday these days will come for me. I can imagine the mixed emotions that you feel. Life is always changing. Sometimes the change is both hard and wonderful and the same time. Thanks for sharing all your experience.

    • says

      Robyn, You are right change is wonderful and hard. My children have become everything I had hoped they would be and that brings a lot of joy but I also miss those little boys and girls that use to run around my house making messes. Now it is just me making the messes!!

      • Robyn Jean says

        You do have great children and I hope my children do wonderful things just like yours are doing now out on their own!

  5. Kathy Clune says

    Great post!
    1. I hate the term “empty nest” – not sure exactly why but I just hate it!
    2. I’m not sure you ever get used to the quite and the emptiness.
    3. It took me several years to finally get comfortable with the “empty nest.” I think now I’ve finally gotten there though. But it’s a new reality, one that I’m accepting. I do appreciate the freedom and it hits me so often that we don’t have to report in to anyone and we can just “up and go” or “up and do” anytime we want to!
    4. When the “nest” is filled occasionally I absolutely love it. I sometimes feel like a starving woman and just feast and feast on the food of having my loved ones with me! We laugh and play and talk and somehow it’s different and good. Better, much better, than when they were here all of the time.
    5. I love that I have and excuse to go visit although with our 6 kids in 6 different states there is a lot of visiting to be done. But there sure are some pretty fun and exciting places to go: San Diego, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Rexburg, Idaho, Minneapolis, and Chicago.
    6. Family reunions are so great and meaningful! Love love love to get everyone together!
    7. I truly miss cooking for a crowd. We eat differently now and it’s just not as much fun. I rarely make cookies or dessert and we haven’t had a casserole or even a big dish like lasagne for ages, just too much food for us!
    8. And finally, I would not trade the blessing and privilege of being a mom for all the gold in the world!

    Thanks for the post and for the thoughts it brought to me. Best wishes to you on the readjustment!!

  6. Merri says

    Hugs to you! I still have young kids at home (8,5,3)…and can’t wait to be where you are. :) Thanks for giving me a glimpse…

    • says

      Thank you Laura. Enjoy those precious moments!! Now that my time with my children is less and farther apart I have so learn to savor every moment of it. Nothing makes me happier than sitting around a dinner table now with all of my children there

  7. Kathy McIntyre says

    My nest is also empty this fall after 33 years and 9 children filling my days, nights and my heart. I understand, there are perks, but oh my was the sorrow of this chapter closing a deep one. I will be fine I have so many blessings, more than I can count. And just when I thought I couldn’t stand the heaviness of my heart, I was called to serve as the YW pres, my 5 time of serving in that area. It has been a perfect fit for my heart. Thank you for your honesty and tenderness, I can understand your feelings.

    • says

      Kathy, We will be fine and so many wonderful things will fill our lives like serving others! I am between callings at church right now and anxious to see where I am needed.

  8. Valerie A. H. says

    Whenever I feel a loss, it seems a window always opens and joy is found once again. I think it’s Heavenly Father’s way of letting us stretch and grow in more areas in our lives. You were a wonderful mother and still are. Besides your children, you will have daughter and son in-laws and sweet grand babies to spoil. The future is exciting! We must press on with a grateful heart. More fun and good things are coming!

  9. Karen says

    I love the post above where she says she is a starving women who feasts and feasts occasionally. I feel like that too, just feasting on and enjoying every second I have with my daughter when she is home. You are finding other ways to fill yourself, and you are always an inspiration to me. Thanks.

  10. Karen Emerson says

    I love that you’ve been able to share in all of your kids’ recent adventures! I’m glad you got to help with the moving and unpacking and shopping and celebrating! I’m also glad you got to catch up on White Collar with some yummy ice cream – what a great combo. Change and transitions are hard, but I know that you’ll fill your time doing things you love. Maybe you’ll have us Big Kids over for a class or 2. :-)

  11. says

    Such a wonderful post! You are very blessed to have such a wonderful family. The post definately brought tears to my eyes. I am teary eyed for my 6 year old starting 1st grade. THanks for the wonderful blog.

  12. Gayle DuBois says

    Wow can I ever relate to your story…I have three kids two girls and a boy in the middle. I just moved my oldest daughter to Ohio from Oklahoma and she has always lived at least
    5 minutes away. My son is in the Marines and is stationed in California and just got back from a 8 month deployment and is now getting married the end of Nov.. I just moved my
    baby girl into her first apartment while she goes to college so yes I am home alone too. It is really hard having them all spread out and we are leaving for Labor Day weekend to
    see our oldest but when you have to fly to see them it is even harder. I want to thank-you
    for being so honest and to know I am not alone in my feelings helps. I love your blog and
    recipes so glad I found it! Thank-you

    • says

      Sounds like lots of exciting changes in your life. We definitely never stop being a parent, worrying about them, loving them and helping them! I am so glad.

  13. Mary Anne says

    Feel joy in knowing you have raised four incredible children who are prepared to go out in the world to meet the challenges that await them. Thanks to you and Jim, and all you have taught them to enable them to become who they are.

  14. says

    I just love reading your blog. You have raised some very lovely children. I too remember that empty nest feeling. You know there just might be more birdies out there that could use a new nest and a kind and thoughtful momma bird.. just sayin’
    Almost 5 years ago we turned our empty nest into a place of refuge for foster children. It has been hard, sad and we have learned so much from the children who have been through our home. We have also been wonderfully blessed each and every day.
    I am also sure before you know it you will be welcoming grandchildren. You will be amazed at how much love you have for those little creatures. Sometimes I feel my heart will burst from the love I feel for my grandsons.
    Whatever future blessings your nest holds, be sure and take the time for YOU. I for one sure appreciate everything you bring to your readers and are willing to share with us. THANK YOU!

  15. says

    Hi Leigh Anne. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog. My husband and I have been empty nesters for one week now. Our one and only daughter began her freshman year of college last week and it is so hard! Everyone tells us it will get easier and I’m sure it will, but boy do I miss her!!

    • says

      Lynda, There are definitely things about it that get easier but just about the time you start getting use to it they come home for the summer and then you have to start all over again when they leave again!!

  16. Dawn says

    Hi Leigh Anne, I enjoyed reading your post. Such a whirlwind and then everyone is gone and not just out for awhile. I am trying not to think of the fact that this is my last year of “school” with my children, since this is my sons senior year. It is sure to be a difficult but exciting year. I am not looking forward to high school graduation. I may have to totally shake up my life and retire.

  17. Kim says

    I really enjoyed your post. I feel the same way. My daughter graduated from college this summer and is now across the country in graduate school. My son is a sophmore in college and just moved out to an apartment with some other guys. Luckily he lives very close and we can visit often. I am really going through the empty nest feelings right now. I cried so much. Just a few days ago I was thinking about emailing you to ask if you could write a blog post about how to handle the emply nest. Any other suggestions you would have would ge greatly appreciated. I am so happy for my childresn that they are so happy but I still miss them so much. Thanks.

    • says

      So glad you enjoyed the post. I am sure I will have a few more empty nest posts coming up! I am determined to be a great empty nester even though I don’t really want to be one!

  18. says

    I think I really needed to read this. I’ve had one of those crazy mornings…up with the baby all night, then stagger out of bed to pack lunches for my 2nd grader and husband, get clothes ironed, last minute details taken care of, console crying baby, put baby back to bed, get 4 year old ready for preschool, then clean the extremely messy kitchen that I was too tired to clean last night, and next…attempt the ever growing mountain of laundry. Sigh. I’m in tears just writing this! I admit I dream of the day when my house is clean longer than 10 minutes. I keep that quote by Pres. Monson about the piles of laundry disappearing too fast close by so I can read it and remind myself to enjoy the chaos!
    Reading this was a good reminder that I really need to just love my little ones before they get too big and leave :)

  19. Emily says

    I feel like you are doing a better job at “doing this” than I am. It still takes me over an hour to fall asleep at night and then I wake up way before the sun does with a tear stained face. But she comes home with a smile and lots of happy things to share. So I will make myself move on. This is harder than I expected it to be but I am grateful for the encouragement and example that you are!!! Thank you for everything!

  20. Kelly says

    Last wed I dropped my youngest off at the MTC, he has been out of the house for a while with school and working but it was still a hard day! We have been empty nesters for a while but now we don’t have either of our kids in the same state and it’s hard but it just becomes the new normal and my husband and I enjoy our time together hang in there and find things you love to do on your own and together!

  21. says

    I know exactly how you feel. I am going through Part Two – myself. My son was home from the Navy for the three day Labor Day weekend. He left yesterday morning. And now the house is empty – my husband went back to work. I keep telling myself. I did this before and I can do this again. I really enjoyed your post! It is nice to know that we emptynesters are not alone!

  22. jamie says

    I really needed this post today. I am sitting at home feeling a little sorry for myself because there is so much to get done around the house but because I have a sick baby, a very messy 2 year old and an 8 eight year old home from school sick I can do nothing. Thanks for reminding me that my house will be clean and quiet and little lonely all too soon. So, I will sit on the couch, cuddle my sick baby and try to ignore the mound of laundry that needs folding and the pile of toys my daughter loves to move from room to room leaving a trail behind her…the mess will still be here tomorrow, perhaps my house will be clean in about 18 years…

    • says

      You are so right – enjoy these wild, crazy and frustrating moments because they will be over all too quick. But the bad news is – I still have messes. This time I am the guilty one!!

  23. Amy says

    Now you have me crying. All my children are itty bitty (8,6,2,2,1, and one on the way). With five soon to be 6 the noise and the mess can be overwhelming but I am embracing every moment because it does go too quickly.

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