Tag Archives: empty nest

The Nest is Empty Again

The Full Team

Two years ago, our youngest son came home to live with us while he attended graduate school at nearby Vanderbilt University. Around the same time, our daughter returned to town to take a job and while she didn’t live with us, she lived near us, and we were able to see her regularly. It was my dream: to have one of my kids live in the same city, but not in the same house.

Flash forward one pandemic later, and both have now moved on, leaving our nest empty once more. My daughter has moved back to our hometown of Los Angeles to pursue her dream job and our son is heading off to New York City to find his next adventure. Our middle son has lived in San Francisco for several years now and shows no sign of returning for more than a visit. But you never really know…

It’s hard to explain the rollercoaster of emotions as our young adult children swing back and forth between our home base and the world beyond. Each move brings adjustments to our relationships and just when I think I’m used to the status quo, things change again. I admit freely that I have a hard time turning off the “Mom Button.” In fact, it’s probably never really off, just on idle, always ready to rev back up as needed for a phone call, text, email or a visit.

The goodbyes are the hardest. The ride to the airport feels like a last-minute rush to say all the things I’m afraid I didn’t say and yet, we make small talk to make it seem like just another normal drive. When we hug, I want to hold on to the baby that still lives in my heart and my memory, but I know I must let go of the adult who stands in front of me. During the ride home I feel empty and full at the same time. My arms are empty, but my heart is full of love and pride for the people they are.

I’ve heard it said that if we do our job as parents, they will leave. They will have the tools they need to live independent, productive, meaningful lives. I know it’s true, but it’s still hard. I have always loved having a front row seat to the best show in the world, watching my children grow up. Well, that show is over and now I get to watch from the wings as they take center stage in their own lives. And let me tell you, it’s a really great show.

So, here I am again, putting parts of the house back together after our son created his own little upstairs bachelor pad. It’s a good time to re-evaluate how we will continue to live in our home, to reclaim it for ourselves and decide what will be relegated to storage or trash and what will remain. I admit I’m looking forward to a little more calm; young men expend a surprising amount of energy just entering a room! I look forward to less laundry, smaller food bills, a neater kitchen. I will miss having our own in-house DJ on Sunday mornings, and personal tech support when I need it. I have loved chatting with my son over lunch, watching reruns of our favorite TV shows and movies. Like many people, we have a mountain of completed puzzles from our months stuck in the house and each one will remind me of this difficult, yet special time.

I guess the thing I think about the most is how lucky we are to have children who still like to come home and reconnect with us. Although we don’t live in their childhood house anymore, they have taught me that wherever we are together as a family is home and I look forward to gathering someday in one of their houses. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see what comes next for all of us.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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He’s Baaaaack! The Return of the Son


File this under the “Be careful what you wish for,” file.

My youngest child has been accepted into grad school at a local university (I’m not allowed to say which one, just yet, but it’s very local to our home).  We are, of course, very excited to have him back home for a while.  But as reality sinks in and planning gets underway, I am also a bit apprehensive.  As empty nesters, we are about to have an adult roommate.  In my mind I picture a sophisticated arrangement where we enjoy dinner together, maybe a glass of wine at the end of the day.  I’m looking forward to someone else to do some of the cooking.  On the other hand, after several years alone, my husband and I have a nice routine of our own.  Our house is orderly for the first time in, well, forever.  Our utility bills are manageable, the refrigerator is stocked for two, laundry is done every couple of weeks and the thermostat is set for my comfort.  It’s all about to change.

Funny thing about having children; they grow up, they leave and then, one by one they each come back for a time.  The challenge for me is how to maintain my independence and balance it against my automatic return to “mommy mode.”  And actually, the bigger challenge is to recognize when I snap into mommy mode and then to manage myself so that I don’t get completely lost in it again.  This time around, I’m expecting that said adult child will be so busy with school, studying, internships and making new friends that he won’t be around all the time.  The goal, after all, is for him to launch the next chapter of his life.  And as he’s been living independently in another city for the last several years, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t need us for much anymore.  Additionally, I have a pretty full life myself with new friends, a business to run and volunteer work.

The first test came the other day when my son asked if he could share my office for his studies.  I was a little taken aback, then calmly told him that I think it would be best to set him up in one of the other bedrooms since I use my office regularly. Privately I was a little peeved because I’ve waited years to have a nice home office that is just mine and frankly, I don’t like to share it with anyone.  So, obviously we’ll have to establish boundaries.

I realize I’m getting ahead of myself right now.  And I also realize I’m having a roller coaster of emotions around this child’s return.  Excited, anxious, relieved, then anxious again, then back to being thrilled.  At least we have a few months before our new living arrangement begins.  In the meantime, I plan to do some personal work to figure out what are my boundaries and how do I want to communicate about them.  I want to be aware of my own triggers so that I can be prepared and not get sucked back in.  I also want to think about my expectations for this time in our lives.  It will be fun to have my little buddy back, to have someone to chat with over coffee, to discuss politics with and to have my social media guru around to help with that aspect of my business.  And I expect he will want to set his own boundaries and manage his expectations.

As the next few months of planning unfolds, communication will be key to making this a smooth transition.  And it will be important to remember that we all love each other and want each of us to be happy and content at home.  More to come.

And in other news, this past weekend I prepared my raised beds for planting.  Keep watching my posts for updates on my Summer Garden 2019!



About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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Filed under Fun Savvy, Self Savvy, Uncategorized

And the Seasons, They Go ‘Round and ‘Round

Mature woman beach

Summer officially starts in just a couple of days.  For me, summer is what I wait for all year.  As a bona fide California girl, I thrive in the warm (read, “hot”) weather.  Moving to a place with four seasons has been a big adjustment for me and I confess, it’s not one of my favorite things about my new hometown.  My husband relishes the changing scenery outside our windows and with it, the different lifestyles each season brings.

What occurs to me is that our varying response to the weather reflects our different approaches to life’s changes.  Many people, like my husband, embrace the external changing of the seasons.  They love to watch the leaves turn in the fall, they enjoy the stark landscape and cold days of winter, they relish the anticipation of new growth in the spring and in summer, they can’t get enough of the outdoors. These folks also thrive in the day-to-day routine of life, heading out to work each day and appreciating the predictability.

After living in a place of perpetual summer all my life, moving to Nashville has been a challenge.  I am a person who loves change, but to me, change is an internal thing.  I like the consistency in my external world so that I can face life’s transitions.  When my routine is unaffected by extreme weather, I can ride the ups and downs unencumbered.

These days my home nest is empty.  Without the demands of fulltime childcare, the season of my life is changing again.  With that, I have lots of questions.  Now that I have extra time and energy for my own interests, where will I spend it?  Do I expand my professional life or find some new hobbies?  Do I just enjoy the free time and read or do some additional volunteer work?  And finally, do I embrace growing older or fight the passing years?

As women, I believe our lives are in constant motion.  It’s both exhilarating and exhausting.  So it is at the start of summer that I take stock of where I’ve been and ponder where I’m going.  It’s true I prefer this external season, but I’m learning to also appreciate the changing view outside my window and balance it with the real storms inside me.  The seasons do go ‘round and ‘round and whatever change means for you, take this opportunity to rest, reflect and recharge.





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