GOODBYE TO THE FLEDGLINGS
My last post was all about preparing our kids and ourselves for the time when they flew the coop and disappeared off into the sunset. For us there was a degree of relief and satisfaction to see them successfully launch themselves and to watch them thriving in the city and at university. They so easily settled into a completely new lifestyle and found their way around their new world with remarkable ease.
The next step for us was finding our feet again as a couple. We'd have loved to have been one of those couples who threw in their jobs and traveled the world, but we didn't have oodles of spare cash to spend ticking off all those fantastic vacations that were on our bucket list. We did have enough to take a few small trips to different spots in Australia we'd been meaning to visit. It was nice to go away with only the two of us to worry about and no children to have to entertain or to take into consideration as far as planning "interesting" activities goes.
MOVING & LOSING TOUCH
Life continued on at home fairly uneventfully until we decided that living on a couple of acres in the middle of a semi-rural bush area wasn't really what we wanted any more with no kids around and all the chores still left to do. So before we knew it, after 20+ years of life surrounded by trees, we sold up and moved into a more suburban situation. Not completely surrounded by houses, but still much more "civilized". It was a great distraction and it allowed us to clean up and clear out - no sacred shrines to our children where their rooms were still exactly as they left them.
Starting afresh from scratch meant we had a house that was really still a bit too big for us, but was the perfect size for when the kids came home to visit. What it also meant was we each had lots of space to do our own thing. That was great until things went pear shaped with our marriage and relationship and we were questioning what we had in common and why we were still married. This apparently happens to a lot of empty nesters - you start creating a life without kids, but forget to forge deeper connections with the one person who has been with you throughout it all.
FINDING EACH OTHER AGAIN
Fortunately for us we found our way through and realized that we needed to actually be in the same space as each other more often. No point him being in his office at one end of the house while I was down in another room somewhere else. Now we spend our evenings together in the same room - we might both be on our laptops or phones or reading a book, but we are together. We chat intermittently, we show each other funny things we've seen online, we share a coffee and a snack, we have all the little interactions that are part of being a couple. We'd almost forgotten how to do that in the process of moving kids out and moving ourselves on to new things.
Assuming that you'll automatically re-connect with your spouse when the kids go is great, but it can take a bit of effort. So often we take our relationship for granted. We'd been married for 30 years, and that's a long time in today's transient world. I thought we were fine, I thought we had it all worked out, I took what I had for an assumed entitlement - and almost lost the whole thing. Having your husband tell you he wasn't sure he wanted to be married any more is a very sobering experience.
I love that we've found ourselves again, I love that the empty nest gives us freedom to do what we like when we like. I love that we aren't responsible for anyone but ourselves, we don't even have a dog to worry about any more - just two fairly indolent cats who are happy for us to come and go (as long as they get fed!) Life together in the empty nest is really great - it's a lot less stressful, there are so many less worries and concerns. It's pretty much smooth sailing now that we've worked out the kinks and made each other a priority. It's a very pleasant place to be at this stage of life.