My friends from Orinda have been empty nesters for longer than we have been. They raised three kids. Their youngest, a daughter, went to NYU and has been swallowed by the Manhattan scene ever since.
In the recent years, we have noticed that every couple of months, they would have a visitor. Then, he became a border. Slowly, he has insinuated himself into their daily lives. Now, it looks like he’s a permanent fixture in their household.
I’m referring to Hershey, a mix Corgi and Chow. They don’t really know how old he is. He was adopted from the pound by my friend’s son and his then girlfriend from years back. The relationship went south but they amicably shared the care for Hershey. Well, that was possible until Colin moved to New York and the Ex went to Law School. And so, Hershey has been spending more and more time with my friends. In fact, he’s been everywhere they have been!
There are many perks to being empty nesters. The maddening period of juggling schedules and running around the entire Bay Area for meetings? Done. The late nights up helping with projects or waiting to hear the front door open and close so we can close our other eye and the other half of our brain can go to sleep too? Check. The weekends spent driving to Reno or Sacramento or Chico for tournaments with cases of water, fresh fruits and other snacks? Check. The images have faded into wistful memories.
We can’t underestimate our need to nurture and care, however. We celebrate the nest being empty but really, we still need the gentle intrusion somehow. We still want and need the connection to our kids in one way or another. Old habits die hard.