One moment home was a noisy flurry of activity. The next moment, a surreal silence filled the air. Even the dog sensed it. Change happened in an instant. Three weeks ago I left home for the AHMA Conference. Three days later I returned to an empty house. My three-bedroom home became an empty nest.
I know this change is a normal, healthy transition. It still feels strange because it’s new. There have just been so many changes in the past six months. I need time to reflect, to acknowledge the changes, and incorporate them into my new reality.
It’s all part of the midlife transition. Everyone’s experience is different. Some people adjust to the change easier than others. A few of the anticipated changes came earlier for me.
A boomerang kid
It’s a common occurrence in today’s world. Adult children leave home only to return during challenging times. My adult daughter returned home about 18 months ago. Raised to believe that you take care of family, I never hesitated to welcome her back. I did reach out to life-long friends for tips on life in a multi-generational home. Their advice helped me avoid a lot common problems. Their love and support helped me get through other unexpected challenges.
Becoming a grandparent
Having my daughter home during her pregnancy was a blessing for both of us. It was such an honor when she invited me to be a part of her labor team. Witnessing my granddaughter’s birth is an experience I will cherish forever. My house was her first home. I was there for the sleepless nights, the colic that seemed to last forever, those first bites of real food, the first tooth, rolling over, crawling, walking, and even those first words. I got to be baby’s caregiver for many months while Mommy was at work. She celebrated her first birthday here, too. Baby Girl and I have definitely bonded.
Youngest child graduates
Our youngest child graduated this spring. In addition to the part time job he’s had for months, he just started a full time job. He loves both jobs as they allow him to use different skill sets. He purchased his first car in cash rather than get himself stuck with high payments on a brand new one. Within weeks, he’d found an apartment to share with a good friend, too. It all happened so fast.
Earlier this year I became eligible for Medicare. This particular transition has been a welcomed relief, saving me money and offering benefits that were unavailable with my private insurance. I no longer have the stress of waiting in line at the pharmacy only to be told my prescription is not ready or out-of-stock. Once a quarter a package is delivered to my house containing all of my medications. There is a generous allowance for OTC medicines, too. My deductible is minimal and co-pays are affordable.
Age-related health concerns
It’s a good thing that Medicare benefits kicked in. Botox isn’t cheap and they cover most of the cost. Plus, I recently found out that the terrible pain in my knee is osteoarthritis. I’m only 45 so this is not good news. I’m not keen on going straight to knee replacement surgery so there are a lot of other options we can try. One of those is water exercise. Luckily, I discovered that my new insurance will pay for a membership to the local athletic center which has these classes. The pain is pretty severe at the moment, so I’m hoping for relief soon.
Having all the kids out of the house is an interesting transition. I appreciate the emptiness and quiet. At the same time, I do miss them and hope they come for visits. My husband and I have realized that we do need to set some ground rules though. We’re planning a new house purchase, so the discussions about what we want have changed
My parents are planning to retire this year. Daddy doesn’t work on cars for family and friends anymore. His hair has changed quickly from “salt-and-pepper” to a thick silver gray. Momma’s hair is visibly thinner. She had back surgery. Daddy needs cataract surgery. The house is paid off. Those are expected changes. What surprised me was their sudden acceptance of technology. They dropped the landline phone, not saying a word to my siblings and me until it was a done deal. We were shocked. They had that same phone number our whole lives. That was home. The idea that someone else might have that phone number after 47 years still drives us crazy. The biggest shocker was when my sister told me that Mom had a tablet and wireless internet. I’m still trying to process the idea of my technophobe mother surfing the internet.
It’s all good. I’m looking forward to discovering what this new life will bring. Getting older does not bother me. I know that it is a natural part of life. This is just the second half of life. The next 40 or 50 years will be an interesting adventure.