Today, I and my son, and of course my wife, begin a new chapter in our lives. He is now a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada and a student at a local University. My wife and I, for the first time in our lives as well as our 32 year old marriage are “empty nesters”.
If I’m being honest, and I have done this with a lot of milestones in my life, I never really gave this concept of being an empty nester much thought. Even as this day approached, knowing that my son would one day leave to go to college, I never really gave it, the silence and the Solitude that I now experience, a lot of thought. I never really thought, at least consciously and specifically, about what I might be thinking and feeling the first morning that I assumed my son’s chores with our dogs and find myself alone, in my home office, with no one around except for my furry friends.
My wife has returned to the classroom and my son is well, I’ll be at 2,000 miles away.
It is strange these thoughts and emotions of which I am having.
An emptiness, I guess that would make sense, since I am now an empty nester. A void, if you will, consumes the room in a silent and sneaky manner. An awkward and strange silence blankets the space in which I work and reside. A back of the mind awareness and knowledge that, I am alone!
For so long, as I have worked at home since the beginning of the pandemic and exclusively since April of this year, I have been mindful of the fact that others are around. These subtle, and at times not so subtle, reminders to all who move and live about our space that I will be on a therapy call or producing media and needing quiet, but now, there is no need to make these pre-emptive announcements.
Oh that’s strange and profoundly loud silence and wet and thick sensation of solitude.
An uneasiness comes around me. The solitude and the silence so present. It is time to engage in my routine of producing media, preparing for class, all be it an end of an era for my teaching as this week I post my final grades and begin to focus more on media production, and of course, Telehealth counseling sessions. My typical Monday through Friday day starts at 8 a.m. and conclude somewhere around 10 p.m. with intermittent “hours off” sprinkled unwittingly throughout my day. Those blocks of time open for whatever strikes my fancy and, if I predict and anticipate correctly, will become the loudest moments of the profound silence my new work day will presents and the most intense of the solitude of which I now benefit from yet also fear.
This notion that my family is now segregated, separated due to success in parenting is the rather paradoxical cognitive experience that drives profound emotional realities. Our goal when we first welcomed our children into our family was to create happy, confident and independent individuals who would go into the world to make it better while seeking their own accomplishments and goals. And now, with the child living in the Seattle area and a child living in the Vegas area, I have successfully concluded this aspect of my parenting with many new aspects and Adventures to follow I’m left with a profound silence and Solitude that I will have to figure out what to do with.