Premature empty nest

While our daughter has at least a couple of years before she sets out on her own, last weekend, we had a little taste of how a Zoe-free home would be.

Last weekend, Zoe attended, with a bunch of other girls, a sleep over to celebrate a pal’s tenth birthday.

You would think that – this being Zoe’s third sleep over – I would be better equipped to handle her not being home for an extended period of time.

Well, I wasn’t!

Of course she was safe and sound under the supervision of a couple of responsible moms and aunts (thanks to my contacts at ‘the Bureau’, full background checks were completed). I wasn’t too worried from that front – even though I had my truck backed into the driveway with the keys on my nightstand – just in case I got a call for pickup and had to lunge into action, like Hondo and the boys from the old SWAT TV show.

The most angst came simply from her not being home. Rocky took it hard too. The third member of our evening walking group was off frolicking at a party, eating cake and getting her nails done. In fact, Rocky spent the better part of his Saturday night camped outside the kid’s room.

There were no pre bedtime last minute glasses of water to retrieve. There were no bathroom doors opening and closing during the overnight hours. The faint light of a laptop – that should have been powered down hours earlier – did not sneak out under Zoe’s bedroom door.

It just wasn’t the same.

Mrs. McCullough, who generally is much tougher than me, handles these sorts of things better. Me, I have to work on coming to terms with the fact that our daughter will hit double-digits next year! Today, it’s a sleep over. Tomorrow, it’ll be her first night away at college.

My first over nighter was during a Boy Scout camping trip (braving the elements with my frugal father’s Army issued rucksack and bedroll). I didn’t give it much thought then, but I know now why my folks were so happy to see me when I returned home.

I’m happy Zoe is home. Excuse me while I go and check on her.



  1. Karen

    I’m not sure it gets any easier! I still go through those moments when my kids are gone for a night and my husband and I have the house to ourselves. If I weren’t afraid of my car being stolen, I’d just leave the keys in the ignition! 🙂


  2. Rich Coda

    My wife and I officially became empty nesters on August 18 when we dropped our (only child) daughter off at Carnegie Mellon University. The two girls drove across country from Arizona and did some sightseeing along the way, while I flew out to meet them in Pittsburgh. In reality I only had those last three days with her before we dropped her off. Drove back to AZ with my wife after a quick visit to Myrtle Beach. We DID have the luxury of our daughter going on two overseas school trips and a 5-week summer pre-college program in the past two years. My observations so far… the house is cleaner (no more projects all over the place) and quieter. We can watch whatever we want on TV. Our schedule is a lot more flexible (we don’t have to chauffeur her to school or to extra curricular activities). Our gasoline bill has virtually disappeared (we live 40 miles from her old high school school). We miss her terribly and wish we could talk/email/chat with her more, but she is in a very demanding program (Theater Design) and at a very good school (in addition to classes and homework they also have to work on every play that the school puts on PLUS any student run theater). We understand and look forward to every little bit of communication we have with her. We get to see her again in a few weeks for homecoming… even get to go to my first college football game!

    My advice to any parents who think they might have problems dealing with the empty nest… send your child somewhere while they are in high school… if your school has any overseas trips… OR have them do a summer program the summer between junior and senior year. It is beneficial to both you and your child. They get a taste of being on their own and you get a chance to get used to them not being there all the time.


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