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The Unnamed Phase of Empty Nest Syndrome

Most people know what “empty nest syndrome” is, but stay-at-home-parents feel similar emotions when all the kids head to school. What’s that syndrome called?

This past week resulted in an unexpected turn of events that has forever changed my perspective of parenting and school.

Things started off as normal, both kids rubbing their sleepy eyes as they headed off to school on Monday. It was our third week into the new school year, and I was finally feeling like we were back in the groove.

My youngest had been denied the option of full-day kindergarten earlier this year, and I had come to accept and relish in the fact that I was going to treasure this last year with him.

He was assigned to morning kindergarten, which meant he and I had the entire afternoon together to do as we pleased…each and every day.

I had big plans for us - special lunches, arts and crafts, baking, autumn leaf hunts…yes, I was given this time with him and was going to take full advantage of it. This would be our best year yet!

Then, out of the blue on Tuesday, I got a call from the principal. The little guy and I were enjoying one of our first "special lunches" at Perkin’s with his Pappy when I saw the school number appear on my cell.

No, my oldest wasn’t in trouble. No, he didn’t have an accident, nor was he ill.

The principal was calling about my little guy. A spot had opened in full-day kindergarten. She was inviting him to join the class.

Crickets.

My mind was reeling. I stared at my pancakes. This was NOT the call I expected to get three weeks into the school year.

Was I happy? Was I upset? What did this mean for us, my little buddy and me? All those crafts! All of those early afternoon walks to the park!

Suddenly my food didn’t taste quite as good. I looked over at my happy little boy as he licked the whipped cream off his Rainbow Pancakes and thought, “This could be my last weekday 'special lunch' with him for a long time.”

I thanked the principal for letting me know and told her I needed a day to talk to my husband and think about it. We had hoped for this option early on, but when he was placed in the half-day class, I was secretly happy. I wanted one more year of afternoon fun with him.

He’s my baby after all. I’ve been a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom for 10 years. This situation is like facing a sort of empty nest syndrome. Is there a name for it? No one prepared me for this moment.

I sat there and imagined both kids being gone ALL day – a quiet, clean house, a chance to experiment with cooking, perhaps read a few chapters of a book without interruption, time to work from home without locking the office door and turning on the white noise machine.

It was hard to fathom, this daily freedom. Yet, I knew I would miss him so terribly.

Yes, this most certainly is the first-phase of empty nest syndrome. Please tell me, where are the parenting books about this topic? Or did I somehow miss that chapter?

Long story short, we said 'yes.' This is what will be best for him, even if it means I’m going to miss him to pieces. He will love it and grow tremendously this year.

I, on the other hand? Time will tell. Maybe it's time to take those banjo lessons I've been thinking about.

Duke September 19, 2012 at 01:33 PM
this picture makes me sad, the "First Student" bus company is a foreign owned entity under "First Group" and it is heartbreaking that we as Americans can not even transport our children without foreigners
Renee October 17, 2012 at 01:31 PM
I think you missed the point of this article.

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