Adapting to Empty Nest Again

Adapting to Empty Nest AgainI started writing my blog 9 years ago, after our son left to attend university in the USA, and we had to adjust to an empty nest. With both children living 4,000 miles away, I felt bereft, but soon adjusted keeping connected with family through Internet. Nearly a decade later, our son disillusioned with his job, and the lack of leadership in the US government, moved back to Europe to look for work in Switzerland.

The only problem he couldn’t find a job here. Now after landing employment in London, he flew off again to live with his British girlfriend.

Adapting to Empty Nest AgainInitially having him home was an adjustment, but we soon looked forward to seeing him at mealtime. Like having live in house help, he pitched in to help cook, clean, shop, and do yard work. Every few weeks Larissa would fly over from London, so we got to know her better too.

They had hoped to settle in Switzerland, but jobs were scarce, so when hired by Michael Page, a professional recruitment agency in England, we were happy for him.

Yet I was stunned by the sadness I felt when he moved out again even though I know kids are gifts on loan. We raise our children to be independent and self-sufficient. Successful parenting means working ourselves out of a job.

Still our home will always expand to accommodate grown children and grandchildren one day. They will always have a safe haven to recharge their battery for the challenges ahead.

Now our daughter lives in the Minneapolis area, our son resides outside of London, and we are located near Geneva. For someone growing up in small town USA, this situation is unimaginable. But for international families living cross culturally raising bilingual kids the reality is not so different than our own. Siblings are scattered across continents and the global generation thinks nothing of living between worlds.Adapting to Empty Nest Again

Even knowing wonderful adventures await my son, I still feel pangs of grief. I miss hearing his witty humor, sharing his ideas and having his empathetic ear. Most of all I miss coaching basketball with him where I witnessed firsthand his knowledge of the game and his gift for motivating teenagers.

Now I will gladly visit him in England. I look forward to discovering a new country, learning about another culture, and maybe even picking up a posh British accent.

Just as my parents opened their doors for us every summer so that our children could grow up learning English and understanding their American heritage, our home will remain at the ready to encompass family needs at every stage of the life cycle.

As every parent knows the nest is never truly empty. Our rooms’ resound with memories, our halls’ echo with laughter, and our ceilings’ reverberate with stories.

Our children move far away, but remain as close as ever, only a heartbeat apart.

Posted in family, inspiration, relationships.


  1. Amen Sister!! Parenthood and it’s many layers!! I Would Not trade the blessing of parenthood for anything!! ????????❤

  2. I feel your pain, Pat! I’ve got widely dispersed children, too. Although I am proud of their independence, I miss them terribly.

  3. Nick has found himself a British cracker! ???? Your article speaks volumes about your dedication and unconditional love as a mum. You’ll always be adored by your kids. I had the pleasure of watching them grow up and develop that bond with you. I’d love to hear that posh British accent when you acquire it haha ???? xxx

    • Okay Rach need an interpretation here…what is a British cracker? I will definitely need a primer on the intricacies of the British language. Then I’ll give it a go. I suppose that the Australians also have unique expressions too.

  4. It’s so funny that you would write this blog now, Pat. I was just dealing with these same emotions recently when I realized that my nest would be empty again after our upcoming move. But you so eloquently note that our nests are never truly empty and I know that will be true even if it isn’t the same four walls they were raised in. Thanks for your positive outlook. It helps at this time.

    • I was wondering if you felt any of the same pangs I do with your relocation coming up soon and a new chapter beginning. Like ours, your family will be sprawled out, but I imagine that you, ever the jet setter, will keep those ties close by becoming the flying granny. The bonds you build with your daughters will remain strong no matter how great your distance apart.

  5. I’ve just become an empty-nester myself, Pat. I miss my time with Torianna so much, but I am so proud of the nurse she is becoming, her aspirations, and the adventures she has in store! Having been a dynamic duo for 22 years, we have both experienced much change, but the love remains the same!

    • So nice to hear from you Sheila. The dynamic duo will remain strong. How proud you must feel as you watch Torianna pursue her noble calling to become a nurse. Hope you are enjoying retirement, although from what Sue tells me you haven’t slowed down much and continue to be actively engaged in the community.

  6. Oh Pat, this is so poignant and true. It reminds me of the quote about giving our children “ roots and wings”. We want our children to thrive on their own but we never lose that longing to have them come back home.

    • Kathy, my mom always used to tell me about giving our children roots and wings and even though I flew far from the nest, I knew that I was always welcome home again.

  7. Pat, you’re blessed to have your kids close in heart and spirit. Sadly, I know folks whose kids live in the same area they do, yet never even speak to them. What a heartbreak that must be! Domer knows I’ll always be his cheerleader and his safety net. Whenever he needs me. In the meantime, I relish his growing self-confidence and independence! Great post, my friend.

    • Thanks for reminding me of that. Sometimes being close in physical proximity makes no difference if the ties between parents and children have been broken. We are both so lucky in that way that our bonds to our kids remain strong and flexible allowing growth on both sides.

  8. I am still trying to chase your Daughter back to you, I have to admit it was pretty easy to scare Nic away!! I was expecting to read about Gigi face down in a British Pub. Can
    t wait to see you next week.

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