snowOur first empty nest blizzard! Having just survived Snowzilla here in the Washington, D.C. area, I am once again reminded how different my life is since my children abandoned me left for college.

My Friday Five friends have chosen 5 New Experiences for this week’s topic, so I decided I would reflect on 5 ways my life has changed since the onset of our Empty Nest season.

My house is cleaner. This week while we were blizzarding, I was somewhat nostalgic for the days when my house would be full of teenagers, running in and out, eating all my food and wearing all our hats and gloves. Then, I looked at the pile of gloves drying by the back door…all 4 gloves…and remembered the piles from years past. And the floors with crunchy gunk. And the powdered hot chocolate mix all over the kitchen counters. And the remnants of snow ice cream. And the dirty towels to try to save my hardwood floors from wet boots. Although I still miss the kids, I do NOT miss the mess.

We eat better. Because hubby and I are in our 50s and doing battle with our aging (but mostly still healthy, thank you God) bodies, we are trying to eat healthier. Except for when it is blizzarding and you NEED to eat macaroni and cheese because it is very cold, comfort food kind of weather. Or when it is playoff football time and you MUST eat potato chips and french onion dip. Other than those types of extenuating circumstances, we are eating more veggies, less carbs, and better quality products. I am trying new recipes, experimenting with different vegetables and no one is looking at me like I have tried to poison them. I can’t remember the last time someone said “But I hate ____!!” (Fill in the blank with the thing I just slaved over for an hour and served ungrateful children for dinner.) I also feel I can justify Whole Foods prices for just 2 of us.

Sometimes I eat scrambled eggs for dinner and read books until 2 a.m. My hubby travels a good deal for work. Now when he travels, it is just me and the senior Bichon, Dobby here to hold down the fort. No responsibility to feed offspring a healthy dinner and no 6 a.m., OMG-they-start-high-school-too-dang-early wake up call. HALLELUJAH! I should offer one caveat however. This is not technically a new experience, but a return to a previous lifestyle when I routinely stayed up half the night when I had a good book going, regardless of what time I had to get up in the morning. I keep expecting my mom to open my bedroom door and say “Kelly, turn off that light and go to bed!”

My kids are (mostly) managing their own lives. Mamas of littles, I can NOT overemphasize how glorious this transition feels. Except for us paying their bills, these girls are TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS. They are doing their homework, managing their time commitments, following up on internship possibilities, preparing for auditions, making good grades and even traveling all over the world with NO HELP FROM ME. All those details about their lives which once occupied space in my head and on my calendar have now been transitioned into the “not my problem” category. Don’t get me wrong, I am still serving in an advisory capacity and have recently had conversations with them about dating stupid immature boys (HH, if you read this, I don’t mean you,) signing apartment leases, and the necessity of stocking up on groceries before a blizzard. However, the day to day management of their lives is THEIR DEAL and they are both killing it. They are brilliant, savvy, hilarious, opinionated, strong, passionate young woman and I could not be prouder or love them more.

Speaking of opinionated and strong, let me also take this opportunity to remind you it is also NOT MY DEAL to monitor what they wear in pictures on FB, choose to share on FB, or write in their articles on FB. They listened to me for 1000 years; they know my opinion on virtually every topic, including and especially my opinions on their wardrobe choices. One of my children told me a bra is “a harness of patriarchy,” so I give up. Purposefully raising strong young women with their own opinions comes with the possibility they will eventually disagree with me about undergarments. I felt it was worth the risk. If you have an opinion, please tell them directly as they are young adults perfectly capable of fielding your outrage themselves. If they are in danger, I will intervene. Otherwise, repeat after me, NOT. MY. DEAL. 

Leaving town is SO much easier. This is MY FAVORITE! I love to travel and because my hubby is essentially in the travel business, we get lovely perks like interesting destinations, airline status and frequent flyer miles. We also get a fair amount of free booze because he runs airport bars, but that is really not important to this particular conversation. Because I have decided to give this “writer” thing a serious try, my business is portable. Freedom! When Steve starts a conversation with “Would you like to go…,” I generally say YES PLEASE! With the girls off to college and living their own busy lives, we only have to get coverage for the dog. With a couple of faithful house/ dog sitters on my contact list in my phone, we are good to go. Besides loving to travel, I also am very much enjoying spending more quality time with my lifetime love and the opportunities to join him for work events. Getting to know the people with whom he spends his days and seeing him in action within the context of his work environment is truly one of the greatest gifts of this season. I totally have a crush on my husband. ❤

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There you go. Five New Experiences for Empty Nesters. Fellow empty nesters, what have I left out? Mamas still in the trenches, which one are you looking forward to most?

Our friend, Kelly Smith over at Mrs. Disciple took the prompt of 5 New Experiences and looked at another aspect of parenting in her post about 5 Things a New Mom Never Saw Coming. That is why I love our linkups: one topic, endless viewpoints!