The Empty Nest Blues

September 1.  Another school year has begun.  My grandchildren start next week and I know their mama is going to shed a little tear or two.  I know because I’ve weathered that emptiness before.  I remember helping our oldest son settle into his new home as a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin.  My husband and I were driving back to San Antonio, and I couldn’t keep from crying as I thought about how much I was going to miss him.

“How about stopping at the outlet stores in San Marcos,” my husband asked.  “If I buy you a new outfit, will that help?”

“Well,” I said, my voice quavering, “maybe it might make me feel a teensy bit better.

As soon as we arrived home, I called my friend Linda who had just taken her son to the University of New Hampshire.  “How many boxes of tissue did you go through on the drive home?” I asked.

“Oh, only one,” she replied.  “The tears stopped as soon as we reached the outlet stores in Kittery, Maine.”

For all of you teary-eyed moms out there who have just sent your babies off to college, or for those of you who are dreading when that day comes, I wanted to leave you with a song I wrote years ago when my youngest child left home to join his brother in Austin.  Since we are a family of musicians (my husband plays the radio), I thought it was appropriate to write a song in “honor” of them and our parting.  I’d sing it for you, accompanying myself on my baritone ukelele, but I haven’t mastered the YouTube thing yet, so you’ll have to be satisfied with the words.

Don’t think I sit at home and cry without you,
There’s plenty more to life than being your mom.
I hardly think about you up in Austin,
Or did I hear you say you’re going to Guam?

Don’t think you left my heartstrings raw and bleeding.
These tears are for the joy of being free.
In fact don’t call or write, I’m much too busy
Figuring out my new identity.

Don’t think of coming home except to visit,
I’ve rented out your room for pocket change.
The man who’s living there reads Shakespeare naked.
Now don’t you think that’s just a little strange?

Now if you think I’m just a tad hard on you,
Remember I’m your mom who loves you so.
And should you choose to come by for a visit,
Be careful, ’cause I may not let you go.

I’m still missing you, my Treasures!

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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44 Responses to The Empty Nest Blues

  1. hi,
    Got connected with you through your seven link challenge via Leah’s Thoughts.
    Not sure I’m ready for the challenge as I haven’t been blogging that long. But seems we have a bit in common- I haven’t found many grandmother bloggers. This post reminded me when we took our eldest to college. Now our youngest is a junior (my post– No Help Needed: A Mother’s Chagrin)… but at least there are the grandkids! Hope you stop in!

  2. That is so funny! I don’t think you have ever shown this to us before. (And that is one of my favorite pictures of the three of us. Heading to Texas no doubt.). Perhaps I will get to hear you sing it this Thanksgiving???

    • comingeast says:

      Why does everyone want me to sing this song? How embarrassing! Of course, everyone thinks I wrote this when the boys went off to college. Little do they know they were in Austin, yes, but not in college. LOL! That’s another story, isn’t it!

  3. huffygirl says:

    Love the picture! I’m holding out for a video of you singing though!

  4. Leah says:

    This is such a nice post! I shed a tear on Sophie’s first day of preschool last year. I can’t imagine sending her off to college. Better start preparing myself soon (and finding an outlet center).

  5. Jenny says:

    I am not looking forward to these days. Our boys tell me that when they are ready to have their own house it will be next door to me, how sweet of them but that really isn’t going to happen.

    • comingeast says:

      I love what your boys said, Jenny. When we were a young family, we always dreamed of having a family compound some place so we could always live close. Obviously, with us in Virginia, daughter and her family in Michigan, and our sons in Boston, that didn’t happen.

  6. oldereyes says:

    So, OK, you don’t have to master YouTube, you only have to purchase the VideoPress upgrade on WordPress, then upload your videos. It’s easy. And I’d really like to hear you sing your song.

    We had an empty nest for about two years, when my son had some “difficulties” and came home to live with us. He’s been here none years, and although he needs us, it isn’t always easy. An empty nest sounds pretty nice.

    • comingeast says:

      I feel for you, Bud. Having children return when they are adults does not feel right, but sometimes it is necessary. As for me singing on YouTube, whether I master it or purchase the VideoPress upgrade, that ain’t going to happen!

  7. I’ve been out of town so I’m catching up on your posts out of order.
    This is the most adorable picture. Your “babies” are precious. I’m sure you miss them every day.

  8. Robin says:

    What a great song! 🙂

    I cried all the way home after we dropped our oldest off at university, and then again when our youngest went. But after a while, it was okay. Better than okay in some respects. Once the floundering part (“who are we?” and “what do we do now that the major part of parenting is over?”) was over, I really started to enjoy this new phase of life. Especially the grandparenting part now that both sons are married. 🙂

    • comingeast says:

      If you still live close to the kids, then it is a nice phase. For us, though, we don’t live anywhere near our children, so it’s hard for us. We only get to see the kids three or four times a year, if we’re lucky.

      • Robin says:

        Good point. Our youngest and his wife were out in Colorado for a couple of years so we only saw them a few times a year. They are back this way temporarily, and it’s wonderful to have them here.Our oldest lives about 3 hours driving distance from here which can be longer than you’d think when we’re busy and they’re busy, especially now that school has started (not just for the kids). So have dance lessons, swim lessons, etc. We’ll be lucky if we get a glimpse of our granddaughters before Christmas, but the option is there if we can find the time to go to them so I see what you mean.

      • comingeast says:

        It is true, Robin, that there are many benefits to the empty nest, so sitting around and pining for a time that was is not productive and a waste of precious time.

  9. Margie says:

    Great song! I cried when my three kids left for University, partly because I was going to miss them, and partly because I was happy that they had made it to adult hood. I think I cried harder when my baby grandson and my daughter left to go home after visiting us for one whole month when we lived overseas!

  10. You sound like a very fun mom. I know that I went to my last home school coop orientation meeting last night. My last one…ever. It’s bad enough to experience an identity crisis when you’ve sent your children to school, but when you’ve home educated them? Yikes. I found myself looking around the room which was somehow underwater, or was that just the tears in my eyes?

  11. Very sweet. When I (the oldest) went to college, both my parents dropped me off and cried. Three months later, my room was no longer mine. My sister had moved into it. No one had told me. Funny how things change!

  12. Your writing always makes me laugh, then cry. The mark of a truly excellent writer! I can’t even bear to think about how I will feel once my kids are in college. I can barely handle them going off to elementary school!

    • comingeast says:

      I hear you, Mama. That ache never goes away. I guess that’s a sign of really good relationships. Sad that not all families feel that. Thanks for you gracious comment about my writing. That made my day!

  13. What a great post! And the photo – precious… Now I’m hoping you get this youtube thing figured out 🙂

  14. Excited to hear/watch you singing that song…cute kiddos.. 😉

  15. You crack me up with “My husband plays the radio”. Very funny! Your children were/are adorable.

    Well, I’ll be one of those teary-eyed moms in eight years or so, right now just enjoying life with them one day at a time.

  16. So clever! And such a sweet picture of your treasures. Even though sending my three off to college was hard, for me, those empty nest blues were even more difficult when my kids — okay, young adults — actually moved out on their own AFTER they graduated college.

    • comingeast says:

      My boys never did move back into the house after they left for Austin, even for the summers, so that leaving was a permanent one. Long story that I may blog about someday, but my youngest left home a week after his 17th birthday. That was really hard for me.

  17. Dor says:

    I’m sure the mixed emotional reactions to releasing our children into the big cruel world are universal. Still, when it happens to us we feel totally alone. Your song is so funny, so true, and so sad and you’ve captured the empty-free feelings perfectly as always.

  18. We so much want them to fly and not fall out of the nest. Don’t we? There’s so much apprehension in hoping they succeed. When they do fly, and are successful, it’s a very sweet reward. Love the Alamo t-shirts.

    • comingeast says:

      Thanks, Georgette. That picture was taken in 1980 when we moved to San Antonio from Philadelphia where our youngest was born. My husband had gotten a job at Trinity University and he brought back those t-shirts for the kids. Sweet memories.

  19. julie says:

    How precious they are. My kids live close to home. My son the closest. Right down the hall from me. Cute song. If you sang it what would the tune be? Is it a familiar tune?

    • comingeast says:

      We always dreamed of having a family compound like the Kennedys, but we never won the lottery. (Yet!) I made up the tune and used only three chords, F, G7, and C. Pretty lousy song, but I had fun singing it. I like ribbing my kids.

  20. Sigh, I’m missing my two treasures, too…. I can’t wait until later in the month when we all meet up in Boston. Never enough time together. Thanks for a sweet song, Susan!

    • comingeast says:

      No, never enough time together, Julia. I’ll be up in Boston the end of the month, too. Linda and I will probably spend a couple of nights in Newburyport or NYC (we don’t know where yet) and then she’ll take my to Boston to spend the weekend with my kids.

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