Can the Nest Be Empty if We’re Still in It?

Like thousands of parents across the country, I recently dropped my youngest child at college. On one hand, I was dreading the day—the end of a nearly 25-year phase of raising children under our roof. On the other, I was eager to watch our boy spread his wings and fly. And if all goes according to plan, his new four-year home will be a place where he will flourish intellectually, emotionally, and socially, reveling in his newfound independence. But what’s with all the ‘empty nest’ talk? Last time I checked, my husband and I still inhabit our nest. While I’m sad that my son has left, I’m looking at this next phase as an opportunity to rearrange our nest—emotionally and physically—rather than view it as empty. It was time for the 20-pound weights to give up their residence on the family room floor and the car keys to land on a hook rather than the kitchen counter.